How much Time?
The secret to looking after your plot is a little and often. Putting in a whole weekend every 3 weeks during peak season is not enough. Beans need picking every couple of days, in dry weather the plot needs a good watering twice a week, and courgettes can turn to marrows in a week! Most plot holders will spend a few evenings a week on the plot and at least half a day at the weekend. It has been suggested that a full plot can take a minimum of 10-15 hours per week to look after during peaks season, whilst in the winter you could get away with less frequent visits, however there is still work to do to get the plot ready for next season (digging, liming, manuring, keeping the weeds down and so on)
If you get into the spirit of things however you may find yourself spending much more time than this on the plot. it's amazing how much time chatting to fellow allotmenteers can take, but certainly in my case this is one of the joys of visiting the plot.
The Cost of an Allotment
The cost of the allotment itself usually ranges between £30-£50 per year, but how much does it cost to maintain and run the plot?
In truth you can spend as little or as much as you want on your allotment. At the basic end you can get started with some basic tools (you may already have these or look in car boot sales, or use websites such as freecycle), and a few packets of seed. Everthing can be done on the cheap on the allotment if you have the time. Sheds and compost bins can be built from old shipping pallets (free!), greenhouses can be picked up free from freecycle, and plant supports can be grown on the plot.
On the opposite end of the scale however some people choose to treat their allotment as they would their main garden and buy fancy new sheds, install ponds, new greenhouses, fruit cages and so on.
How much you spend is really up to you. It depends on the funds available to you, how much time you have and your reasons for taking on the plot.