An allotment isn’t just a space for you to grow fruit and vegetables. It’s also a place where you can relax, be part of a community and get some exercise. With luck, patience and hard work, you’ll be rewarded with delicious, home-grown crops, not to mention the satisfaction of having raised them yourself.
You will need:
Chances are you’ll have a shed on your allotment, which is great news because it’s somewhere to make a cuppa, as well as store a few tools that will make life much easier. From must-have kit, like spades and forks, to practical accessories like wheelbarrows and cloches, our experts have done the hard work for you by testing a range of equipment and putting together best lists, so you can buy in confidence.
And, if your plot doesn’t have a shed, don’t despair – check out our round up of the best garden sheds to find the right one to suit your space, style and budget.
- Spades and forks: Probably the best investment you’ll make, given how often you’ll use these tools, we’ve put the best garden spades through their paces, looking at the four most common types; digging, border, pointed and transplanting, as well as testing the best border forks.
- Hoes and hand weeders: It’s important to keep on top of weeds on the allotment and the best way to make light work of this tedious task is using either a Dutch hoe or hand weeder. Our experts tested 10 of the best garden hoes to find the most comfortable to use, while BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine readers put the best hand weeders to the test. Worried about stiff joints if you’re bending down to use a hand weeder? Check out our bumper guide to 20 of the best garden kneelers.
- Wheelbarrows and garden trugs: Whether you’ve got space for a wheelbarrow or are relying on smaller trugs, both are useful for a range of jobs, from transporting plants to collecting leaves, prunings and other organic waste material. At the end of last year, our experts got to work to find the best wheelbarrows to buy in 2022, as well as compiling a roundup of the 10 best trugs garden trugs to help you find the right one for your needs.
- Watering cans, hosepipes and water butts: Depending on the water supply in your allotment, you’ll find a hosepipe or watering can an essential bit of kit. Thankfully, our expert team have come to the rescue by testing the best garden hoses and the best garden hose spray guns, as well as putting together a selection of the best watering cans. You might also want to consider using a water butt to collect rainwater, especially if you have a shed, as you can run the guttering from the roof into a water butt. Not sure which one to choose? Check out our pick of the best water butts.
- Cloches and cold frames: Extend the growing season with some portable protection. Depending on your needs and budget, choose from the best garden cloches, garden netting and garden tunnels or the best cold garden frames.
- Compost bins and wormeries: If space allows, making your own compost is just one of the many benefits of having your own allotment plot. While thrifty allotmenteers might choose to make their own, if you’re pushed for time, we’ve tested a range of the best compost bins and wormeries so you can get started as soon as possible.
- Wellingtons, gardening shoes and gloves: Our expert team loves the saying, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes’, which isn’t surprising given that they’ve put the best wellington boots and the best gardening gloves through their paces. There’s also a useful round up of the best gardening shoes, as well as the best kids’ gardening gloves, because, after all, an allotment is somewhere for the whole family to enjoy.
- Bird feeders and tables: An allotment can be an ideal place to attract friendly wildlife, not only to enrich the environment, but chances are they’ll repay your kindness by helping to keep on top of unwelcome pests. From the best bird feeders and the best bird tables, to the best bird baths and the best hedgehog houses, you’ll find plenty of inspiration to provide the right food and shelter. Find out how else you can control slugs, aphids and more, below.
- And don’t forget, somewhere to relax: What would an allotment plot be without somewhere comfy to sit back and admire your hard work? Check out our experts guide to the best garden deck chairs, and you might find our pick of the best gardening journals and planners useful for recording what you’ve sown and grown in your plot. And once all the work is done, why not treat yourself to the best hand creams for gardeners to soothe tired, dry hands.
You can also watch Alan Titchmarsh’s No Fuss Guide to the 10 essential allotment tools and kit you’ll need.
Browse our collection of inspirational ideas and practical advice on maintaining your allotment, below:
Starting an allotment
If you’ve never had an allotment before, taking one on can seem a bit daunting. Vacant allotment plots are rarely weed-free and ready to plant up. You may need to spend weeks digging out stubborn bramble, horsetail and couch grass. You might need to build or repair an existing shed or greenhouse, or import masses of manure to improve tired soil. But where to begin? Don’t worry, help is at hand. Follow our tips on getting started, below.
- How to start an allotment
- Tips on allotment etiquette
- Essential allotment tools
- How to grow veg plugs
Your allotment year
The key to a successful allotment is to not take on more than you have the time for. It can take years to hone the skills and discipline needed to juggle the sowing of different crops, weeding, planting out, controlling pests and managing harvests.
Start with a few choice crops and see how you get on, then gradually increase your workload as you become more experienced. Stay organised, with the help of our monthly lists of allotment jobs:
- Allotment jobs for February
- Allotment jobs for March
- Allotment jobs for April
- Allotment jobs for May
- Allotment jobs for June
- Allotment jobs for July
- Allotment jobs for August
- Allotment jobs for September
- Allotment jobs for October
- Allotment jobs for November
- Allotment jobs for December
Keeping on top of weeding is one of the most important jobs on the allotment. Weeds often grow faster than vegetable crops and can out-compete them for water, nutrients and light. Regularly removing weeds will ensure your crops have everything they need to grow. What’s more, removing weeds when they’re young will save hours of back-breaking labour later on.
- How to identify weed seedlings
- Four ways to use a hoe
- Weeding without chemicals
- How to weed by hand
- Dealing with annual and perennial weeds
Feeding edible crops
Fruit and vegetable crops are hungry and will need a good balance of nutrients to thrive. We explain how to feed the soil, make your own organic liquid feeds and compost kitchen and garden waste:
- How to make a comfrey feed
- How to make a nettle feed
- How to use plant feeds
- How to improve your soil
- How to make compost
Allotment pests include slugs and snails, aphids, caterpillars of the large and small white butterflies, and birds. Find out how to deter, control and minimise the damage caused by pests, below.
- How to stop slugs eating young plants
- Dealing with aphids
- How to deter carrot root fly
- Controlling cabbage white butterflies