The Allotment at Home: Some Progress

Veg Plotting on Thompson & Morgan's blog

I've made a guest appearance this week on the Thompson & Morgan (T&M) blog with some of my top tips for allotment growing alongside regular Veg Plotting commenter Sue (yay!), plus a whole host of experienced allotmenteers.

Those of you who read my National Gardening Week post last May may be a little surprised as I confessed then I no longer have an allotment. My response to T&M's questions apply to what I've been doing here at VP Gardens and show grow your own is feasible whether you have just a windowsill right through to a full-blown allotment.

My update on progress since then is long overdue. In a nutshell I produced more in 2019 than many an allotment year despite the more restricted space. It's not been a perfect time owing to family circumstances, so I look forward to 2020's growing season confident even more progress can be made.

Two of my key projects last year were to improve soil health and to increase my growing space with some raised beds - hence my selection of my top tip in the image above. More on both of these in future posts.

In the meantime, here's the full transcript of the tips I sent over to T&M. You'll see from their article I'm in broad agreement with my fellow allotmenteers, even though my growing space is at home now.

A sneak peek at my lovely new Woodblocx raised bed

How you plan your plot each year?

I look for key varieties that are productive and can grow in a smaller space. Blight resistance in tomatoes is important as well as taste as I can only grow them outdoors (see my review of last year's tomato growing season, where I also trialled Dalefoot's new peat-free tomato compost).

The other crops I focus on these days are cucumbers, squash, courgettes, peppers, salad leaves, herbs, garlic, carrots and fruit. All this is grown in 3 small raised beds, a 2 metre square cold frame area, a few pots on the patio plus the fruit trees I had already in the main part of the garden.

I also miss peas, pears and parsnips, so I'll see if there's a way I can shoehorn them into the garden somewhere at some point. 

Do you choose plants based on what you like to grow, or what you like to eat?

It's always been about what we like to eat, why put in all that work for the produce simply to go to waste? My husband hates brassicas so I've never grown them (shhhhhh! don't tell him rocket is a brassica!) and we're not that keen on runner beans - much to the dismay of my fellow allotmenteers when I had an allotment. 

Back at home, salads are a major crop as we eat loads. They can be grown in the smallest of spaces, even on a windowsill if that's all you have. I find I can grow enough salad for the two of us pretty much year round (see my 52 Week Salad Challenge for lots more info). 

I'm also expanding the range of herbs I grow as these can transform a dish, and again need very little space. They're great for growing in pots too if that's all you have.

We also love fruit and it's great to have 3 productive apple trees, plus a fig tree that's taking over the patio. I'm gradually pruning back the latter so it's trained against a south facing wall. I freeze the inevitable gluts from both apples and figs so we have some summer tastes in the gloom of winter. 

Such promising flowers but alas we only ate a handful of home-grown strawberries last year

I've yet to find a fully satisfactory solution for my pot-grown strawberries which still looks attractive - the squirrels and pigeons like them too much, so we only ate a handful last summer. Once the fig is pruned back I plan to convert the small bed it's in for raspberries as that is the fruit we miss the most from the allotment.

General care tips for allotments to ensure the best crops, and maximum enjoyment of the allotment lifestyle.

I found converting my allotment to a raised bed, no dig peat-free system was very rewarding and saved a lot of time. I'm applying the same principles at home with some raised containers. My back's loving the lack of bending down!

Don't be afraid to buy plug plants if you don't have the time or space to grow from seed. Allotment life is about what works for you and finding the tastes you love. Try some varieties you can't buy in the shops and be amazed.

What are your top tips for grow your own, with or without an allotment? What are you growing this year?


  1. Interesting to read how you are getting on post allotment VP. I will certainly be buying more plug plants this year after having just come out of a plaster cast for a second time in recent months. Same fall but another fracture which was not picked up on in September. I'm going to try to make it easy for myself this year when it comes to the allotment. Hope to grow the usual suspects - French beans, shallots, sweet corn, early potatoes, squash, courgettes, beetroot and lots of flowers. There are also more permanent soft fruit and herb beds whilst the tomatoes are grown at home 😄

    1. Sorry to hear about your further woes Anna. I hope things are better for you soon x

  2. We were in good company weren’t we/


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