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National Allotments Week 2018

The joy of growing your own food with an allotment
The joy of growing your own food with an allotment

Celebrating Living and Growing, August 13-19

It’s National Allotments Week and sites across the country are opening their gates and holding open days to encourage more people to grow their own.

Backed by the National Allotment Society (NAS), the aim is to share the joy of gardening and communal endeavour to encourage everyone to grow food in their own gardens, balconies and backyards – and eventually take on an allotment.

There are open days during August along with barbecues, exhibitions, produce stalls, music and even chicken poo bingo on sites across the country. Click here to view a list and find an event near you.

Renting an allotment means you can grow crops like potatoes, onions, sweetcorn in quantity but as I’m always banging on about it, you can grow food in small spaces, or as part of an ornamental garden.

National Allotment Week 2018Grow decorative veg in the garden

Runner and French beans have white, red, purple and yellow flowers and as they grow vertically, don’t take up much ground space.

Most salad ingredients are easy to grow in pots, especially cut-and-come-again lettuce, which needs a semi-shady spot in summer.

Culinary herbs can be grown in pots by the door and rosemary or lavender can make a low hedge.

Strawberries look attractive and produce fruit in a hanging basket or trough if kept well-watered.

Keeping fit on an allotment can save on health and social care budgets

Small fruit trees in pots

Small fruit trees on dwarfing rootstock are a productive and pretty addition to any garden and, if kept in pots, can be transferred to an allotment.

The NAS’s horticultural expert Mike Thurlow says that this summer’s heatwave has reduced aphid numbers, sending slugs underground and giving earlier crops.

National Allotments Week started in 2002 as a way of raising awareness of allotments and the role they play in helping people to live healthier lifestyles, grow their own food, develop friendships and bolster communities.

The NAS aims to protect, promote and preserve allotments and this is what you can do to help:

Shields Row Allotment Association's winning leeks
Shields Row Allotment Association’s winning leeks at Beamish Leek Show

Measures to protect allotments

  • Allotment associations: protect your site, register as a community asset.
  • Allotment federations: keep allotments in the public eye, make sure they are mentioned in the Local Plan and lobby your councillors and MPs.
  • Councils: preserve and value your allotment service – it has the potential to deliver some of your public health targets.
  • Plot holders: join the National Allotment Society and support your regional network to promote the movement.
  • Aspiring plot-holders: do not be put off by the thought of a long wait – sign up for a plot now; without waiting lists, allotment authorities cannot assess demand.

For more information, visit https://www.nsalg.org.uk/news-events-campaigns/national-allotments-week/.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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