Taking on an allotment is something of a commitment. When you have very little gardening or vegetable experience and the plot youâ€™ve been given is an overgrown nightmare that seems to stretch as far as the eye can see, it’s not so much a commitment as a gut-wrenching challenge and possible reason for detention under the Mental Health Act.
In such a case it makes sense to be methodical, to think carefully about what you will tackle now, what you can reasonably aim to be doing in, say a year’s time, and what should wait until you have managed to rope in Monty Don as a full-time allotment assistant. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have bold allotment dreams, but if you wish to hold on to your sanity it’s helpful to be realistic.
This is what every gardening book, allotment-related weblog and allotment old-timer will tell you. It is not, alas, the approach we take here at Pumpkin Soup. We are much more slapdash and erratic. While it is true that we cannot claim to have had results that are as productive as those who work in a more structured and sensible way, I do think it is fair to say that we are able to take even more delight in our successes given that we so seldom expect anything much to work out.
Nonetheless, it is not a method that I can recommend, and if I were starting all over again I would probably be more cautious and organised. But then, if I had had my wits about me to that extent in the first place I perhaps would not have taken the allotment on at all. In a belated attempt to become more allotment efficient, we have started to create some sort of plan of action for the coming years.
This drawing shows the current plot covered in black plastic (or red shading as it appears here) with our raised beds marked and numbered. It corresponds to various scribbled notes that I have gradually accumulated and which I will slowly incorporate onto this page as information is updated.