A journal of successes and failures on our allotment in Birmingham which we took over stewardship of in October 2022.
My husband and I grow fruit, vegetables and cut flowers on our plot. As we don’t have a garden of our own at home, our allotment doubles as outdoor space so we like things to be pretty. A traditional allotment is a functional space, but for us our allotment is also a pleasure garden, and needs to be beautiful.
The plan is to keep things organic and cause as little soil disturbance as possible by layering homemade compost on our beds each year for the worms to work into the soil rather than digging them over and manually incorporating compost in the traditional way. We did initially dig it all over with forks, because it was a burial ground of bricks, plastic and all sorts of other junk, as well as lots of deeply rooted perennial weeds.
At the end of summer I contacted Birmingham City Council and asked to be put on the waiting list for an allotment. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I held back because I knew that the waiting lists were long and I wondered if I wanted it enough to find the time for upkeep. Taking on an allotment is a big time commitment. The committee of my nearest allotment site have closed their waiting list. During the height of pandemic demand for allotments, it stood at eight years. Those are historic and really beautiful gardens, and I suspect the only time they change hands is when tenants die.