It’s National Allotment Week! From 13th to 19th August, the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners will encourage allotments to open their gates, allowing more people to get involved in the wonderful world of growing-your-own.
To celebrate, Kirsty of My Little Allotment is sharing her top seven foolproof allotment plants with us. Kirsty started her allotment in April 2017, and has been hooked ever since. A mum of two, Kirsty began growing her own vegetables in her garden at home. However, she soon ran out of space! She often brings her daughters to her allotment to check on her veggies – including a massive pumpkin called Max!
See if you can start growing your own for National Allotment Week, with Kirsty’s recommendations…
If you are starting out like I did, as a complete grow your own/ allotment novice, it can be quite daunting knowing where to start. Here are my top seven foolproof plants to get your allotments growing.
As staple ingredients for most culinary dishes, onions and garlic are two of my top vegetables to grow.
As well as being super easy to grow, onions and garlic store well and can be used for months to come after harvest.
The easiest way to grow them is by buying autumn planting onion sets and garlic cloves. Pop them in the ground in September/October and off you go. Garlic and onions will survive the harsh winter months and will be ready to harvest in early summer.
These are really easy seeds to get started on your windowsills early in the year and can be planted out in the ground in April time.
A top tip is to pinch out the broad bean stalk when it has grown more than two sets of leaves as this will help to help keep blackfly away from the plants. My favourite broad beans to grow are Karmazyn as they have a wonderful pink colour.
If you ready to grow a super-fast rainbow then radish is the way to go. Being one of the fastest crops to grow on the allotment and simply being one of the fun little delights of growing your own.
Radishes are super easy, super quick and come in a beautiful variety of colours. Sow the seeds directly in the soil and within 4-6 weeks you can harvest make your first harvest. Sow in successional rows every week to keep a good harvest over summer.
Peas are a first time grower must-have. Easily grown by sowing directly into the soil and using canes for support, the pea is a great delight for any gardener to grow.
Picking pods in our garden never ever make it into the house as they are a fabulous snack for me and my children, plus they are super tasty. You can grow some really nice varieties and this year I grew Blauwschokker, which has a wonderful purple shell.
Courgettes are definitely a simple plant to grow. They give an abundance of crops that can be used in lots of dishes, including courgette cake!
A top tip for growing courgettes is to pick them regularly at about 4-5 inches long. This ensures that the plant will give you a long cropping season. I would also only grow a couple of plants on my own allotment as they give such an abundant crop you will soon be facing the dreaded courgette glut. Why not try something more unusual and grow the courgette Tromboncino?
As long as you can keep the rabbits away, Swiss chard is a simple vegetable to grow.
Sowing the seeds directly into the ground over summer, you can have a long harvest that sometimes even runs into the winter months. It will create an abundant crop that can be used in lots of dishes.
My favourite way to eat it is by chopping up the stalks and leaves and adding them to simmer away in a curry.
Strawberries/ pine berries
Last but by no means least is the wonderful strawberry plant. Strawberries are a MUST-have on the allotment; there is nothing as sweet.
Good netting is required after the plants have flowered, to help keep the birds away from the forming fruits.
The best part about strawberry plants is that they give you more free plants for next year. When the strawberry plants start producing runners, just pop new strawberry plants into a pot with compost until it roots. Once rooted, you can cut where the plant attaches to the original plant, et voila! More strawberry plants for FREE!
I absolutely love my allotment and for the past 18 months it has offered me a wonderful haven in which I can relax, de-stress and help improve my mental health and wellbeing. It has been so much more than a piece of land in which I can grow vegetables, but something I use to keep myself well. I love growing fruit, vegetables and flowers and have a wonderful little tea shed where I can sit and read.
The allotment is not something just for me but for my family and two young daughters too. I hope to teach them all about growing your own and how it’s important to know where your food comes from. It is a perfect little space to spend time with my family and is most definitely my happy place.
If you are interested in learning more about My Little Allotment and the adventures down on Kirsty’s plot, follow her on Instagram, Twitter and on her blog. What will you be growing for National Allotment Week? Let me know in the comments section!