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What Not to Do in Your Allotment

By: Elizabeth Hinds - Updated: 23 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Allotment Gardening Tenancy Community

An allotment is your own little piece of land to do as you will on – as long as it’s legal! But to get the best from your allotment it may be helpful if you are aware of some allotment/gardening conventions.

To take on an allotment is to become part of a community and, as in any community, it will work better if certain – possibly unspoken - rules are followed and etiquette is maintained.

Your Neighbours

Your allotment neighbours could become your best friends. They’re a source of advice, leftover seeds and even manual assistance if you’re trying to erect a shed with no help. A good allotment site will have an excellent community spirit: you’re all there for the same purpose and it’s to mutual advantage to work together.

So don’t:

  • let your plot get overgrown and neglected so that weed spores are carried onto their carefully-tended plots;
  • let your dog run – or do worse – on their plots;
  • play heavy metal music very loudly on an otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon. You might think your plants respond well to it but your neighbours might not;
  • plant tall bushes or trees where they’re going to cast a shadow over your neighbour’s flower plot;
  • light a bonfire on a windy afternoon;
  • be over-enthusiastic with the chemical weed killers if you know your neighbours are trying to maintain a strictly organic plot. Be careful how you apply it so as to avoid it being blown or spreading onto their land.

Do:

  • treat them as you would like your neighbours at home to treat you;
  • ask their advice. They’ll be the local experts and will know all about the soil and conditions and what works well and what doesn’t. There’s no point trying to re-invent the wheel;
  • offer to help them if you see if they have a particularly tricky job to do;
  • share your surplus;
  • be willing to learn from them.

Your Tenancy Agreement

When you took on the plot you and the site owner should have signed a tenancy agreement. This will give you certain rights but also some responsibilities. You are legally bound to maintain the plot in a reasonable condition and to keep your hedges, if you have them, trimmed.

Each tenancy agreement will be different depending on the site. Some ban the erecting of sheds or greenhouses while others stipulate that permission must first be sought. Others may forbid bonfires. To avoid being given notice to quit just as your first crop of runner beans is appearing, check yours carefully to find out what you can and can’t do.

Your Plot

Don’t:

  • use chemical weed-killers or fertilisers if you want organic vegetables. When you start investigating you’ll find there are plenty of alternatives – even though some may mean much more hard work!
  • grow the same crops in the same place year after year. Crop rotation is one of the basic principles of food growing. Different vegetables will take different nutrients from the soil and if you continue to plant cabbage, for example, in the same bed repeatedly, the soil will become depleted and unable to support a healthy and flourishing crop.
  • expect to have a perfectly-maintained and productive plot in your first years. Allotment gardening takes a lot of work and commitment. A spell of bad weather or an attack of the killer caterpillar can cause havoc on your allotment but don’t let it deter you. Put it down to experience and carry on. Similarly if you break your leg or the children take it in turns to have chickenpox, and you’re all housebound for weeks, don’t panic: it’s all part of the fun of allotmenteering.

And finally, do:

  • think about the chemicals you’re using. Even if you’re not planning on going completely organic, one of the major benefits of growing your own is the ability to control what’s on your food.

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Giancarlo- Your Question:
Hello,My name is Giancarlo Cristea, I live in Tooting, London, where I came 3 years ago. Unfortunately I cannot work anymore because of my health conditions that makes keeping a regular job almost impossible. I suffer from Crohn's disease and fibromyalgia, two very painful conditions that affects every aspect of my daily routine. Because of that I lost my job, several times in the last years, making me depressed and anxious, and I was in a very poor mood. Now I am living on benefits, I'm in the Support Group of ESA but my family is struggling to cope with all the bills, debts, expenses, and of course I am feeling responsible for this situation. In the last couple of months I decided to try to do more for my family and to find a solution to provide a bit more money because I didn't forget my goal that I had when I came in United Kingdom 3 years ago, to do all my best to assure a brighter future for my wife and my daughter. Until now my health condition doesnt let me to succed. I knew that I must find a solution suitable for my capabilities and in the end I decided to grow gourmet mushrooms, Oysters, Lion's Mane and Shiitake in a small shed in the garden :). I know very well how to grow them (I grown before but at a smaller scale, in boxes) I am in love with mushrooms, enjoying them for their amazing taste and savory and also for the medicinal properties. I've grown before and I'm sure that I can produce stunning mushrooms that will be very appreciated in the local community. My idea was to sell only to the local restaurants around me, interested to buy fresh, local, home grown mushrooms. Like I said, the growing process is my favourite part, and my friends will help me with the more physical tasks in the garden when will be necessary and also with a car for delivery (I cannot drive). At least I have some good friends ready to help me to "come back on my feet". Unfortunately I don't know the laws and regularions very well, I did a lot of research on the internet (I dont have money for specialist consulting) and I am still confused. I didn't understand if my idea is totally legal, if I am allowed to sell in the markets, what are the regulations for such a small grower like me, where of if I need to register somewhere.Probably I won't be even capable to sell every weekend, maybe a couple of times per month. Do I need to register like a sole trader or Ltd for that? I really need some help to understand this because I don't need to break any law.Please, can you help me to understand how can I properly sell in your market, online and even with a stall?Best wishes,Mushrooms enthusiastGiancarlo Cristea

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here which should help you further and get you started doing further research. Best of luck.
GoSelfSufficient - 24-May-18 @ 10:47 AM
Hello, My name is Giancarlo Cristea, I live in Tooting, London, where I came 3 years ago. Unfortunately I cannot work anymore because of my health conditions that makes keeping a regular job almost impossible. I suffer from Crohn's disease and fibromyalgia, two very painful conditions that affects every aspect of my daily routine. Because of that I lost my job, several times in the last years, making me depressed and anxious, and I was in a very poor mood. Now I am living on benefits, I'm in the Support Group of ESA but my family is struggling to cope with all the bills, debts, expenses, and of course I am feeling responsible for this situation. In the last couple of months I decided to try to do more for my family and to find a solution to provide a bit more money because I didn't forget my goal that I had when I came in United Kingdom 3 years ago, to do all my best to assure a brighter future for my wife and my daughter. Until now my health condition doesnt let me to succed. I knew that I must find a solution suitable for my capabilities and in the end I decided to grow gourmet mushrooms, Oysters, Lion's Mane and Shiitake in a small shed in the garden :) . I know very well how to grow them (I grown before but at a smaller scale, in boxes) I am in love with mushrooms, enjoying them for their amazing taste and savory and also for the medicinal properties. I've grown before and I'm sure that I can produce stunning mushrooms that will be very appreciated in the local community. My idea was to sell only to the local restaurants around me, interested to buy fresh, local, home grown mushrooms. Like I said, the growing process is my favourite part, and my friends will help me with the more physical tasks in the garden when will be necessary and also with a car for delivery (I cannot drive). At least I have some good friends ready to help me to "come back on my feet". Unfortunately I don't know the laws and regularions very well, I did a lot of research on the internet (I dont have money for specialist consulting) and I am still confused. I didn't understand if my idea is totally legal, if I am allowed to sell in the markets, what are the regulations for such a small grower like me, where of if I need to register somewhere...Probably I won't be even capable to sell every weekend, maybe a couple of times per month. Do I need to register like a sole trader or Ltd for that? I really need some help to understand this because I don't need to break any law. Please, can you help me to understand how can I properly sell in your market, online and even with a stall? Best wishes, Mushrooms enthusiast Giancarlo Cristea
Giancarlo - 23-May-18 @ 3:04 PM
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