Allotments are hot property these days. If you’re thinking of taking one on and are lucky enough to live in an area where there isn’t a waiting list, then you should get going now. You’ll need the winter to prepare the plot in time for spring sowing.
The best websites make no bones about the work involved. Dr George Cook- a GP with fifty years’ gardening experience – has an allotment in Liverpool which he transformed in only seven months (though, having it almost on his doorstep must have helped).
Last month the Liverpool Federation for Allotment and Leisure Gardeners* awarded him Third Place for the Best Plot in Liverpool 2009. His allotment website includes loads of information, including a thought-provoking monthly breakdown of the hours spent working it (a hefty 78 hours in June, only 5 in December). When I first visited over a year ago, he’d included the sobering calculation that a standard plot takes ten thousand turns of the spade to dig over and added, “the basic requirement…is exercise and commitment. If you are afraid of these, then try knitting.”
The site is now being renovated so it’s worth “digging around” (sorry) to find pages that aren’t immediately obvious. For everyone who’s tried something that’s not supposed to work and “got away” with it, the Myths page pooh-poohs such old saws as not being able to transplant beetroot (and I thought I’d made a new discovery…).
And his plot is a model of neatness with an inspiring regiment of home-made modular raised beds (instructions onsite), allowing easy protection from pests and creation of temporary cloches. Pages on different vegetables include growing tips culled from his long experience. Several videos on YouTube show progress through the years (this year's below) and give a guided tour of the plot. His long-term ambition is to create a video on each type of vegetable, so this is a site worth watching.
*This is now amalgamated into The Assocation of Liverpool Allotments.