Inspiration
March 7, 2016

How to maintain a prize-worthy allotment

The world-famous The Chelsea Flower Show is one of MKM’s absolute favourite horticultural events, never failing to get our cogs whirring, green fingers twitching and inspiration flowing.

And while you might not be advanced enough (yet!) to exhibit your own gardening work at the quintessentially British event, you can still cultivate a competition-winning allotment from the comfort of your own garden. Here’s our top tips on how to keep a healthy and beautiful plot – hey, you can always enter next year!

Regular watering is a must.

irrigation

Watering your allotment at the right time – and the right amount – can be a tricky balance to strike.

We recommend that you water lightly and consistently – something that’s particularly easily achieved if you install, for instance, a drip irrigation system, or use a soaker hose.

Make sure you’re responsive to your plants’ needs.

Take care to adapt the way you water your plants dependent on how they’re growing.

You’re watering them too much if:

  • Their stems are soaked
  • There’s mould or moss growing on top of the soil
  • Their leaves are yellowing

You’re watering them too little if:

  • They’re wilting
  • They have brown or dead leaves
  • Their growth is stunted

Additionally, if you’ve contributed new seeds to your allotment, be careful not to drown them when you water them: if you do that, they may clump together and not grow properly, or get washed away and not grow at all!

Keep one eye on the soil.

soil-care

Healthy soil is paramount to healthy plants, which in turn resist insects and disease. Without well-maintained soil, then, your whole allotment will suffer – eek!

Feed for it, care for it and sustain it with close regard – predominantly, we advise covering it with mulch, like topsoil or bark, as doing so has a medley of great benefits, including:

  • Reducing evaporation from the soil’s surface
  • Cutting water usage by 25 – 50%
  • Promoting microorganism activity
  • Stabilising soil moisture.

Give it a try – you won’t believe how mulch it’ll improve your plant life.

Weeds hurt seeds!

weeds

Weeds are harbourers of insects and disease, and sap from your vegetation by taking its water and nutrients.

Make sure you weed regularly – and have a particular go of it at the beginning of the growing season with a a proper shovel and a rake (to destroy and unearth hidden ones) – keeping those crop bed baddies at bay.

Dead and diseased vegetation and plants, count as weeds, too – make sure you remove them from your plot, and wash your tools after doing so to avoid infecting the healthy.

Sometimes a diseased plant can be salvaged if you destroy the infected parts of it, but depending on the extent of the infection it might be best to get rid of the entire thing. Dead or wholly vulnerable plant life is a magnet for pests!

Protect your plot from the elements.

protection-allotment

Your plants will need guarding against extreme cold and heat, so make sure you have the means to do so.

Cover them with cloth for shade cover when it’s very hot, and provide heat lanterns (if needed – you never know with British weather!) during icier intervals.

Got any allotment-keeping tips of your own? We’d love to hear them. Pop us a message over at our Facebook or Twitter page.