Archive for the ‘How to…’ Category


Poppies are some of the most beautiful flowers, and are useful for filling empty beds on an allotment. However, be careful, as many varieties are poisonous. Check they are safe around any children or pets you may have, and ensure that you are safe while around them.

Poppies can be sown around April, although it varies depending on the variety. They usually need half to full sun, and well drained soil.

Poppies are often invasive, as they have many seeds which grow easily. In order to combat this, it is a good idea to pull up their seedlings when they start to grow, or to dead head them when the flowers start to fade.



A good idea for an empty space on an allotment is to plant some wildflowers. They are available as mixed seed packets and are often planted between March and May.

Many wildflowers are annuals, but they will set seed, so may grow back the next year. For this reason, they may be invasive, so watch out for when they begin to spread.

Make sure you are careful around wildflowers as they may be poisonous. Check they are safe around any pets or children you may have.

Choosing The Right Pots

An Apple.

A common problem that people face when trying to grow plants it that they do not know what pots to choose. The right type of pot depends in what you are trying to grow.

Seeds are best planted in plastic seed trays or small biodegradable pots. Biodegradable pots are better suited to larger seeds, and are useful as the roots are not damaged when the plant is potted on.

Cuttings can also be planted in plastic seed trays or plastic cellular trays.  However, they are best planted in biodegradable pots so that their delicate root system is not damaged.

Shrubs are best planted in plastic pots which are strong and allow for some movement if you are careful, as they are heavy.

Larger or more permanent plants should be planted in large plastic  or metal pots, or frost resistant terracotta pots. Terracotta pots are best both aesthetically and practically as they absorb water and often are stable.

Dealing with different light conditions.

Many crops grow best in half to full sun, whereas others require shade. However, the majority of allotments do not have these conditions available. If so, it is best to follow these simple tips to get plants growing well.

  1. If your allotment is too shady because of trees that you own and are permitted to cut back, hire a tree surgeon to cut of a small section of overhanging branches. If the trees are not yours, politely asking for them to be cut back may do the trick. Make sure you can legally cut them back.
  2. If the sun is blocked by fences, planting in raised beds and pots can help as the plants will be raised off the ground.
  3. If there is too much sun, planting a small fruit tree or similar may be a good idea as they will block the light. Make sure you will not need to move them later – if so, plant small trees in pots, but take care when you are moving them as they will be heavy.
  4. Arrange plants so that sun loving ones are in sun, and so larger ones are not blocking the light that smaller plants need (unless you are trying to create shade).

New Weekly Project

If you grew some crops for last weeks project, they will probably be large by now, which means it is a good idea to prick them out / pot them on depending on how you grew them. If they are not, wait until they are large enough to handle first.

Soil Types

Depending on where you grow crops, you may have to change your strategies. This is partially because of light, but mainly caused by soil types.

If your soil drains badly, can be moulded in to a ball with your hands and keeps that shape, it is probably clay soil. This is often hard to dig, especially after heavy rain.

Sandy soil drains well, and may contain visible sand, and if you roll it into a ball, it will fall apart. This is useful as it drains well, but plants often grow better if you dig in some compost.

Loamy soil is well drained and contains nutrients. It is evenly balanced, and possibly the best type of soil for an allotment.

Growing fruit trees in pots.


A tree with beautiful red stems


Sometimes, you may be short of space for trees on the allotment. This is when need to plant things in pots. When planting fruit trees in pots, try to get dwarf varieties as they will survive best. Plant as you would with any other potted plant, making sure you take care if it is heavy. You should also check that you have a large pot.

Once your tree is planted, it still requires care. Make sure it is kept well watered and fed, and if extremely necessary, repot, taking care as it will be heavy.

Also, cut back the tree in around march if it gets too large.

When planting in pots, make sure they are sheltered as pots are fairly likely to blow over. This could cause injury and damage. As well, you should check the tree has good support – e.g a bamboo cane.