How to choose the right allotment plot?

Overgrown allotment at Lennard Road Allotments, London. 2017

When you arrive on the allotment to meet, usually, the site secretary you will be shown which allotments are available to rent for the coming year.

In reality you probably won’t be shown more than one plot. But you maybe lucky and shown two or three, then you have to consider a few options.

Things to Consider

Is there a nearby water source?
– Most site supply water via a tank system which is run for 6 months of the year. Being close to a source will come in very handy, especially on hot days. Watering a plot can take a good hour in the height of summer and you’ll be thankful if the water tank is a very short walk from your plot.

Neighbouring plots
– Check out the plots surrounding your possible new plot. Are they clean and tidy looking plots? Being next door to overgrown plots maybe a sign of a bad neighbour who isn’t looking after their plot.

– Are there any items on the plot which will be left by the previous owner? Sometimes you can get lucky and the last tenant isn’t bothered about taking their shed, greenhouse, raised beds or compost bin with them. Some sites would ask for a donation to the society funds if large items such as a shed/greenhouse is to remain on your possible new plot. This can range from anything from £40 to £100 but if the site secretary doesn’t suggest it then you’ll be fine.

Shade / Sunshine
– Observe what time of day you are seeing the plot and how much of it is in sunshine/shade. Some crops such as lettuce will grow in shade but it’s better to have a plot in full sunshine and for you to have the choice later on whether you want to shade part of it yourself. Look around to see if there are any nearby trees that could create shade later in the day.

Take Your Time
– Any good site secretary will give you a few moments to look around the available plots. Sometimes you just have to walk around the potential plot and see if it “feels right”. So don’t rush into making a decision.

Trewsbury Road Allotments, London

Plot Agreed

So you’ve agreed on which plot to take on. The site secretary will present you with a set of rules and regulations. The length of these will vary from site-to-site. Keeping to the rules will make for a better allotment experience. They will range from how big a shed should be to who is responsible for moving the grass on the communal path surrounding the allotment.

Once the paperwork is signed and you have paid your rent for the first year, take lots of photographs of your new allotment from as many angles as possible. You’ll be thankful on your first year anniversary to look back on how much you have achieved in the first year. I’ve known so many people who have regretted not having pictures before they started developing their allotment.