Assessing a site
Assessing an allotment site is as important as assessing the plot itself. Here are some of the things to watch out for:
- Distance from home. How long is it going to take you to get to your plot? is it close enough that you can pop over and pick veg for your dinner? Is it close enough for the regular visits it will need to maintain the plot?
- Parking and Access. If you plan to drive, are you able to park nearby? If you plan on using public transport then is there a bus, or train that you can use?
- Security. Does the site look secure? Ask existing plotholders if they have had problems.
- Is there a trading hut on site? This can be a great way to buy compost, seeds and even tools at discounted prices.
- Is there an active society? If your interested in joining in then ask plotholders what goes on at the moment... If they don't do anything yet perhaps this could be a future project for you.
- Rules on putting up sheds and greenhouses. Some sites don't allow sheds over a certain size, in some rare cases no sheds are allowed at all. Consider where you will keep your tools overnight.
- Communal tools. Some sites have communal lawnmower and so on, as it is usually the responsibility of plotholders to mow the paths between plots. Find out what they have.
Assessing a plot
- How overgrown is the plot? You may be lucky enough to take over a plot that has been recently cultivated, and this will save a lot of work. If on the other hand you are offered overgrown plots, then look to see what is there. If your serious about being an allotment gardener then don't be put off by a mass of brambles - with a bit of work these can be chopped down and burnt. If on the other hand the plot is an overgrown mass of trees, then this can be difficult to cultivate... not impossible mind, but the roots require you to use a different approach - raised beds for example, and this could be expensive.
- How far is the plot from the gate. If your planning to carry heavy bags of compost from the car to the plot, then this is a consideration.
- How far is the plot from the water point. Having to carry bucket after bucket of water for 100yards when a hosepipe ban is in place can be hard work.
- Is the plot south/north facing? Does it have any overhanging trees that cast a shadow over the plot? Not enough sunlight can make things difficult. Try to assess how much sunlight a plot gets. If only a corner of the plot is in shadow then put your shed and compost bins here.