The BBC’s Big Allotment Challenge might not have quite reached the same dizzying height of popularity as The British Bake Off but it did manage to land a second series, showing we Brits have an appetite for gardening as well as cakes and biscuits. Those who are not blessed with large lawns need to seek space for seeds and saplings where they can. According to the Guardian, an increasing number of city dwellers are using alternative methods such as vertical growing to ensure they can still get their gardening fix. They coined the phrase rurbanite for the hip young things who are going green-fingered on their apartment balconies but there is of course a well-established and more practical option open to those who want to grow their own food or flowers; the allotment!
For many years most allotment associations had waiting lists longer than the Great Walls of China but in some areas these lists are now starting to shrink, which means you could be tending to your own strawberries, tomatoes and sweetcorn sooner than you think! And, once your plot is secured, there are plenty of modern ways to increase your gardening efficiency, safety and comfort. Here are just a few ways technology can boost your traditional allotment experience…
From planning through to ploughing and planting, there are lots of tools you can use to make maintaining your allotment easier. First things first, you can plan the layout of your allotment using this handy online planner. If your plot needs a little TLC you might need to clear things up a little to get a full idea of the potential of the space and if that’s the case, a garden air compressor will make the process a whole lot easier, airsupplies.co.uk sells some smaller compressors that are perfect for the job. To remind you when seeds are due to be sewn, sprouted and harvested try the free project management tool Trello, it lets you add deadlines to specific tasks and you can plan your allotment activity by sections or by fruit or vegetable depending on what suits you best. Take some time to read through the Trello help section and you’ll start to see how it can help you organise your allotment plans.
Unfortunately, allotments can be a target for vandals and thieves, which puts a lot of people off investing time and money in their upkeep. It’s worth asking your allotment committee what problems they’ve experienced in the past and if they have any recommendations to help you prevent issues but there are also technology items out there that can help keep your shed and equipment safe. This metal fronted shed with three-point locking system is designed to keep thieves out and has in-built shelving for organisation. You can also buy battery-operated alarms for sheds though one of the best forms of prevention is making it difficult for trespassers to enter your allotment at all. Ensure your gate is bolted and that fences are difficult to traverse and mask the view of your allotment using high growing plants such as peas if you can.
When you’re putting in long hours at your allotment, you may be happy enough taking a flask of coffee and some cling-filmed sandwiches to sustain you, but there’s no need to slum it if you don’t want to. Kelly Kettle products are designed to burn items such as twigs and pinecones and it boils water ultra quick (within three minutes) so you can set up your own allotment cooking station for extra special coffee breaks. If your allotment plot is very secure you may even want to consider fitting some solar power to supply energy for things like lighting. Don’t forget a chair or bench – while a deck chair will ‘do’ having somewhere soft to rest your behind will make you more inclined to stay in your allotment longer and it should help to minimise ‘gardening pains’ the next day too!
Are you considering upgrading from balcony pots and plants to an allotment or did you have an allotment long before they became trendy? Maybe you’re allotment is worthy of being entered into Britains’ Best Allotment competition? If so, be sure to share your tips and photos below!