How to prepare for the year on your allotment

Aerial view of allotments

Spring, whether it’s meteorological (the 1st) or astronomical (the 20th), begins in March. It’s the time of year to begin thinking about getting back down to the allotment again. Before diving straight in, there are a few tasks that need to be taken into consideration.

Ensure you have suitable outdoor clothing & protective footwear

Safety shoe on the allotment

Before you begin any work on your allotment, make sure you’ve got the right kind of gear to wear. Don’t ruin your best pairs of trousers or training shoes – buy some hard wearing clothing that’s built for the jobs in hand and that you don’t mind getting dirty… and of course heavy duty, protective footwear. We’ve all heard those horror stories of people standing on rusty nails or impaling themselves through the foot with a garden fork!

Have a spring clean

Upturned terra cotta plant pots

You probably did a lot of the chores at the end of autumn as the gardening year wound down. However, if you haven’t, this is your last call for completing all these jobs. Tidy the shed and greenhouse if you have one. Sweep paths, remove slippery moss, clean pots, make sure water butts are full, bring the garden table & chairs out of the shed and paint or oil as required… and scrub that barbecue clean in readiness for some al fresco dining!

Prepare the soil

Garden soil

Flower beds and fruit & vegetable plots have probably lain dormant for almost 6 months. Now that the final frosts are almost over, it’s the perfect time to dig over beds, tackle weeds, mulch, rotate compost bins and sow green compost.

Clean & repair your tools

Collection of garden shovels

Why make gardening jobs any tougher than they need to be? Make sure your secateurs and shears are sharpened, shovel and rake handles are secure and free from splinters. Consider a service & deeper clean for electrical items such as lawnmowers and chainsaws.

Organise your planting calendar

Fenced off allotment plot

Organise your planting diary for the year ahead. Look back at what you did last year and rotate beds to avoid disease and pests and maximise yields. Do some research as to what might grow well in your situation and soil conditions… and of course enjoy browsing all those lovely seed catalogues, gardening magazines & books for inspiration and ideas.

Care for wildlife

Hegehog on grass

Not only are they lovely to look at and listen to, wildlife helps to pollinate flowers and they eat pests such as slugs and aphids. You can do lots of things to attract creatures to your allotment. Build insect boxes, provide food for birds, plant insect-attracting flowers, create paths for hedgehogs and find space for a water feature of some kind if possible – even if it’s just an upturned bin lid! It’s one of the single most effective way of attracting wildlife to an outdoor space.

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5 Tips for getting your garden ready for summer

back and side gardencredit

During the winter months, many British gardens can find themselves neglected and look a tad melancholy. Most plants have died back, there have been months of long, dark, cold days where few people feel like venturing out into the garden. There are lots of things you could do in the coming weeks to help get your garden ready for summer.

Raking up leaves in a gardencredit

1. Have a spring clean

Spring is the best time to tackle a bit of garden maintenance. Sweep up, take a bucket of soapy water to garden furniture, check that gates and fences are upright and secure. Does anything need a lick of paint or wood preservative? Is the guttering full of autumn leaves? Is the barbecue rusty?

Garden with wild flower meadowcredit

2. Sow annuals and bulbs

Nothing makes a garden more attractive than colourful, scented, flowering plants. For a quick and easy fix, you can sow annual native wild flower seeds; corncockles and corn marigolds, poppies and buttercups. Bulbs are the gift that keep on giving; they’re low maintenance and the flowers come back year after year. We planted some dolly tubs with mixed bulbs about 18 months ago and they’ve been providing colour and beauty to our garden once again since January this year. We can’t recommend them highly enough.

Collection of colourful garden plant potscredit

3. Re-pot plants that have outgrown their containers

Most plants are dormant in early spring, the ideal time to divide and re-pot plants that have become crowded and pot-bound. Whether you’re after a few new terracotta, metal or plastic containers, you can find a large range of pots, planters and window boxes online. Not only will you get more plants, you’ll be rewarded with stronger, healthier ones that will flower more profusely.

Patio garden with brazier and strings of lights and buntingcredit

4. Decorate

Decorating isn’t just for indoors. There are often large expanses of shabby wall or fence that could be livened up with paint or trellis. Perhaps you’ve got room for a shed, summer house or shepherd’s hut – somewhere to decamp on long hot days. Create a designated al fresco dining space. Put up strings of bunting and fairy lights. Consider sculptures and water features that can bring added interest and focal points to an outside space. Install a couple of gnomes if that’s more to your taste! 🙂

Butterflies on flowers in a gardencredit

5. Don’t forget the wildlife!

Visiting wildlife brings interest to a garden. It’s easy to entice them in – birds, insects, frogs and toads… even the odd hedgehog or two if you’re lucky! Make your garden a welcoming haven; provide food and water stations and places to shelter, nest and spawn. Nectar-rich flowers are loved by all sorts of critters. You’ll soon be rewarded with the buzz of bees, the song of blackbirds and robins, colourful finches and butterflies flitting about – and perhaps some fledglings to watch grow up.