This is not a comprehensive guide. For the full rules and regulation guidelines please consult your allotment handbook as provided by the site secretary. Please visit our ‘guide to’ section, which is under continual development, for more further information on many relevant topics.
Q: What is a good book/guide to growing fruit and vegetables?
A: There are many good books available, but a recommendation for a comprehensive good value guide is ‘The Vegetable and Herb Expert’ by Dr D. G. Hessayon.
Q: Whose responsibility is it to maintain the paths around my allotment?
A: You are responsible for one of the paths either side of your plot. This will be identified when you receive your tenancy. If you are unsure about your path responsibility piece consult any member of the committee. You must ensure you do not obstruct paths surrounding your plot and that the edges around our plot are neat.
Q: Can I have a fire on my plot?
A: You may have fires on your plot from September 30th to April 30th on any day of the week, except Sundays. Fires on allotment sites are covered under the ‘Clean Air Act 1993’. Whilst you are within your rights to have fires on your plot, you must ensure you are not causing a nuisance to other plot holders or the people that live in the surrounding area. You would be liable personally for any fines under the ‘Clean Air Act’.
Q: What is expected of me in terms of maintenance of my plot?
A: Your tenancy agreement states that you must keep your plot under cultivation to the satisfaction of the committee. You must ensure that any annual weeds are not seeding onto other peoples plots and keep perennial weeds under control. Whilst, in the short term we would advise that you cover up any areas of your plot that you are not currently working on, this is not a long-term solution.
Q: Can I put up a greenhouse or shed on my plot?
A: You may have greenhouse, shed and polytunnel on your plot, but you must apply via the committee in advance of construction of these. There are limits on the size and position of these, which are covered in detail on the ‘greenhouse and shed application form’. A completed application form must be submitted to the committee and your application will be presented at the next monthly committee meeting.
Q: Can I use weedkiller?
A: Although some plot holders will choose to be totally organic, you may use weedkiller if you wish. Please respect your neighbours and use weedkillers responsibly.
Q: How do I know what type of weeds I have on my plot and how to deal with them?
A: There are two types of weeds – annual and perennial. The type of weeds you have on your plot will depend on the your growing conditions and the weeds in the area surrounding your plot.
Q: Should I rotavate my plot?
A: A rotavator is a machine that is used to turn over the topsoil, breaking up large chunks in preparation for sowing seeds. There are pros and cons to this method.
Q: How should I ‘dig’ my plot?
A: ‘Common methods for digging are ‘single’ and ‘double’ digging. The top soil on Granville Park is quite shallow so we recommend considering single digging. Some people may choose the ‘no dig’ method once the plot is cleared.
Q: What type of soil do I have and what does this affect?
A: The soil on the allotment is usually a sandy loam and is, in general, very good quality. The soil pH and soil type will affect how well each type of plant is likely to grow on your plot. It is a good idea to ‘test’ your soil so you use appropriate soil treatments to maximise the growing conditions for the crops you wish to grow. ‘Test kits’ are available, at reasonable prices, at any garden centre.
Q: What tools are essential?
A: The basic tools needed for maintenance of an allotment are a spade, fork, rake, hoe and watering can. It is important when choosing a spades and forks that you have the appropriate length of handle for your height. You should not be bending over when digging as this could lead to back problems. Longer handle spades/forks will be found in some garden centres or can be found online. People of shorter stature may be better with a ‘border fork/spade’ rather than a full-sized tool. You may choose to invest in further tools such as a mattock, azada, trowels, hand forks etc.
Q: What common pests will be on my plot and how do I deal with them?
A: The pests you will encounter on your plot depend primarily on the crops you choose to grow. Following correct crop rotation and the appropriate soil treatments will reduce your chances of crop pests. With any pest problem it is important that the problem is treated early on, whether you choose an organic or chemical method. If you have a problem with any of your crops it is advised you consult a book or ask an experienced allotmenteer.
Q: What is crop rotation?
A: Crop rotation is a method of organising your planting over several years to minimise the issues associated with pests and nutrient requirements of different crops. Some people practice crop rotation religiously, others do not. Crop rotation will help to prevent the ‘build up’ of pests in your soil, although do not expect this to eliminate all pest problems.
Q: Should I build raised beds?
A: There is no right or wrong method. You may choose to build raised beds, which are raised mounds of soil which can, but not necessarily are, surrounded by a wooden or brick edging. Other systems included ‘deep beds’ and planting in blocks or lines. You may choose to plant in blocks or lines
Q: How do I set up a composting system?
A:Your average household produces over a tonne of compostable waste per year and, as an allotmenteer this will be much higher. Composting waste will provide you with nutritious compost that can be used on your plot and it is easy! You can either build you own compost bin or buy a pre-made one. Trafford Council has joined with Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority to offer our residents the opportunity to purchase compost bins at discounted prices.
For more details, visit the get composting website, or to order by telephone, please ring 0844 571 4444.
Q: What is the ‘allotment shop’ and when is it open?
A: The allotment shop is ran by volunteers and offers compost, fertilisers (organic/non organic), bamboo canes and general supplies. The shop is open after each committee meeting on the first Sunday of the month (except January).
Q: When do I have to pay my annual rent?
A: Annual rents are due in October. You will receive a letter in advance of the site and payment is to be returned to the site Secretary (Sue Blain). On the letter you will have a clear date that details when the payment is due. Failure to pay for will result in termination of your tenancy agreement.
Q: How do I make a complaint?
A: If you have a complaint regarding maintainance of another plot (or another plot holder) it is always best to speak to the plot holder yourself in a friendly manner. We are all here to enjoy growing fruit and veg and nobody wants to upset others. With a friendly approach most issues can be resolved without the issue being raised formally. If this is not possible or, if the issue is not resolved, then speak to any committee member. Any other issues should always be directed to the committee.
Q: Do I really need to add Manure?
A: There is not really a definitive answer to this question. Adding fertilisers to the soil alone will give good results in the short term, but for healthy soil a source of humus (organic matter) is needed. well-rotted manure is a good supply of humus. You may also wish to dig in well-rotted leaves, grass clippings or compost. The site organises manure delivery each year. This is normally in October or November.
Q: Where do I get seeds from?
A: There are many good seed suppliers. available online and by post. Garden centres also sell seeds. Wilkos seed range is good value, albeit a limited choice. The site organises a ‘bulk order’ from Thompson and Morgan before the state of each growing season. You will receive 50% off flower and vegetable seeds, along with a 10% discount on other items. Notices will be issued regarding the dates for this order in October. 5% of the total sales is refunded to the site funds. Garden Organic runs a ‘heritage seed library’ which is an interesting source of old plant varieties.
Q: What fertilisers should I use?
A: Again, not an easy question. For beginners it is best to use a general purpose fertiliser, although you can purchase many sources of N (nitrogen), P (Phophorus) and K (Potassium) separately. Blood, fish and Bone is a good general purpose organic fertiliser or you could choose it’s inorganic brother ‘growmore’.