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My Allotment in Yorkshire

Mar 27, 2010

I have an allotment in Yorkshire in the North of England. I try to grow as many different fruits and vegetables that i can. I suppose this is based on the philosophy 'A little of what you fancy does you good'. Allotments are small plots of land [300 square yards], which you rent from the local council. [Local Government] The cost of this years rent is approximately £60. This my fifteenth year on this site.

Upon the allotment is a shed, a greenhouse and a covered composting area. The reason the composting area is covered is primarily for water collection. I try to collect as much rainwater as i can. The allotments do have a water supply but you have to walk 50 yards to the tap. I also have a small frog pond made out of a recycled magnolia coloured corner bath, that someone had kindly dumped at the side of the road.

The soil on the allotment is really good, i now have about 18" of topsoil. You could describe it as a moist silty loam. The only drawback with the soil is that the subsoil is riddled with horsetail weed, which is nearly impossible to eradicate. It is something you just have to live with, or you go elsewhere.

I use the deep bed system, some people call it the raised bed system. The beds are never ever walked upon. All access accross the beds is via timber planks. [Old scaffolding boards] The full growing area is divided into 4 feet wide beds with 18 inch paths between. Some of the beds are edged with timber but most are not. I have come to the conclusion over time, that where aesthetics are not a factor, then timber edging or any edging to the beds is an unnecessary cost.  

I dig the beds each winter, primarily to remove as much horsetail root as i can, but also to add as much compost as i can, and as deep as i can. Apart from the addition of compost, lime and homemade comfrey liquid i use no other fertiliser. I do add stable manure to the compost when it is available. To aid digging i cover the beds with plastic sheeting to keep off the rain and snow. I have been out digging on a sunny day when there is 3 inches of snow on the ground. Some people think i'm nuts.

I am an avid recycler. An allotment has the advantage that it does not need to be too neat and tidy, unlike your own garden, so it lends itself to the re-use of things that could be described as tatty rubbish. Bottle cloches are one of my favourites.

I have trained apple and pear trees along the fences around the allotment. My latest tree is an apricot, which has its first flowers on it this year. I also grow rhubarb, raspberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries. 

Last year i grew sweet potatoes in the greenhouse as well as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. I must point out that the sweet potatoes were only as big as your thumb, but thet leaves were great. 

Like many on this site i am addicted to improving the soil. Deep compost rich soil holds moisture which minimises the need for watering. I try to only water when new transplants are put out, and at the end when things are trying to fill out. I have found that compost rich soils also reduce insect infestation.


Hi, Your allotment looks great. It also looks like you use every bit of space possible, great work. Tracy Sunny Corner Farm
Hi tracy Thankyou. I like your Indian runner ducks, or Indian rubber ducks as we used to call them. Glenn
Hi Glenn, You have a nice looking plot, only another gardener would appreciate the amount of work you have put into it. I am still totally captivated by the concept of allotments. Could you please run through you comfrey tea recipe, I planted some Bocking 14 last year. All I could think of was to lay the leaves on my garlic beds. FYI horsetail is one of the biodynamic preparations used to treat fungal infection (5th paragraph down): Mike DeLate Tetonia, ID USA
Hi everyone, I love your space Glen! It is obviously you give it lots of hard work and love. I would like to comment on the horsetail. It does not sound like the same "horsetail" that is used medicinally, as that herb, I believe, lives in shady areas and has a resemblance to the pine family. This plant seems more like an invasive grass. If anyone can figure out the Latin name for the plant growing in Glenn's garden, then we would know if it is indeed the valuable herb horsetail, which is one the "to watch list"of endangered species here in the US. Susan
Hi Susan Thanks for you comments. The latin name for the horsetail on my allotment is Equisetum arvense as shown on Mike,s link. I know it is a very old plant and has been around since the time of dinosaurs. It propagates by spores i think, rather than seeds. There are different strains that grow to different sizes. Mine grows to about 10" tall and looks like a small pine tree. I can,t ever imagine that this stuff would be on the endangered species list. It is very brittle as it contains a lot of silica and was used for cleaning cooking pots. The roots have little nodules on them, that break off and produce a new plant, and the tiniest bit of root will also grow on to make a new plant. Glenn
Hi Mike My comfrey is the sterile Bocking 14 type. It is really easy to propogate from root cuttings. I know others grow comfrey from seed, but i have tried digging the stuff out when its been in the wrong place. The last thing i would want is for it to be seeding itself all over. I,ll do a blog on comfrey tea as it deserves more time and space. I never knew that you could use horsetail as a fungicide. I get a bit of American gooseberry mildew on occasions, depending on the weather, so i may try it on that. I also read that elder had similar properties. I like the idea of your double greenhouse. I will be interested to see some photo,s when you get up and running. Glenn
Hi Glenn, I ran across an interesting article on biochar: It's a fairly balanced presentation of current research, implications and considerations. Mike DeLate Tetonia, ID USA

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