If you’re new to allotment gardening then this one’s definitely for you. In the first of my series of ‘top ten’ blogs I let you in on my personal recommendations for crops to grow for beginners and serial plant killers!
If you’re anything like me you might have opened up instagram and scrolled for hours looking at all these colourful allotments full of exotic and perfect looking veg. Well, firstly – I’m here to tell you that is not normal!
You don’t need me to tell you but this is just a ‘highlights reel’, we don’t always want to show the mistakes that we make but I’d argue that the more mistakes you make in your first year the better. It’s truly the best way to learn, along with reading, researching and asking questions.
So this is definitely not an exhaustive list and I’d encourage anyone to try growing something new every year!
Sow Feb – May
Harvest Jun – Oct
Top tip – Go for female-only varieties so that you don’t have to hand-pollinate. Cucumbers need a frame to be tied to but growing veg vertically is great when you’re short on space.
Sow Jan – Apr
Harvest Jul – Oct
Top tip – ‘Cherry’ tomatoes tend to ripen earlier in the season than beefsteak or plum tomatoes and are generally sweeter. Sungold is a favourite variety of mine! Be sure to prune your tomato side shoots to increase airflow and avoid blight.
Sow Mar – Jul
Harvest May – Oct
Top tip – A carrot’s worst enemy is the carrot fly which lays its eggs in the root. Grow carrots higher up than the carrots fly (60cm), cover them with a fine insect mesh or try intercropping with onions as a deterrent.
Sow Mar – May
Harvest Jul – Oct
Top tip – I love a courgette, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing! You should probably stick to only 1 or 2 plants per person otherwise you’ll end up with a big glut.
6. Runner beans
Top tip – Don’t underestimate how wild runner beans can go. They need a strong structure such as an arch or teepee which won’t buckle under the weight later in the season.
Top tip – Radishes are very easy to grow, but good spacing and regular watering will make your crops bigger and less peppery. Try sowing every few weeks for continuous cropping.
Top tip – When you start germinating your pea seeds make sure to hide them from mice! When they are harvestable, make sure you pick your peas frequently to encourage them to produce more.
Plant Autumn (runners)
Top tip – Strawberry plants tend to be good producers for 3 or 4 years. After that its best to switch them out to new ones. You can propagate your strawberries from runners which form new identical plants or, if you don’t need new plants you should cut them off to focus energy into the main plant
Top tip – If you have a part-shady bare patch or a spare pot – sow some mixed salad leaves! Perfect veg for containers and the freshest you’ll get.
Harvest Jun-Dec (10-16 weeks after planting dependent on variety)
Top tip – Potatoes are virtually indestructible! I have had one potato plant come up in between a brick path for the past 3 years. My best advice would be to try growing them in containers. If you plant them in the ground there is a good chance they will be there forever!