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How to create a mini allotment in your garden

It comes as no surprise that allotment waiting lists have grown even longer during lockdown. With more of us cooking at home with fresh ingredients, and an enhanced love of the great outdoors as a result of our daily exercise routines, many of us are now serious about growing herbs, fruit and vegetables.

The good news is that you don’t need an allotment, a greenhouse or even a large garden to start growing produce for your kitchen. Here’s a guide to starting a mini allotment of your own.

Container gardening

Herbs can be a simple way to add flavour to your cooking, and many can be grown in small pots or containers. Sow parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, mint and sage seeds indoors to start with, then transfer seedlings to larger, well drained pots in early summer for a pretty, fragrant and edible display you can keep going back to.

Tomatoes love being on a sunny patio and thrive in warm, sheltered positions. Plant directly into grow bags if you have the space, or into fairly deep containers if you want a neater look. The Micro Tom variety is especially adapted for small space growing, and Terenzo is a small cherry tomato that also does brilliantly in a pot.

Strawberries are also at home on a patio. Try using specialist tiered strawberry pots – they give you maximum fruit within a small footprint. You’ll need to be careful about keeping the plants moist and feed them regularly, but you’ll be rewarded with handfuls of delicious fruit.

Peppers and compact cucumber varieties also thrive in pots. As long as you offer them supporting canes to grow on, tie up any straggling growth with twine and feed with a specialist mix every so often, you’ll soon be making lovely fresh salads.

In the garden

Use your existing borders to intersperse vegetables with your normal planting. Garden peas, runner beans and broad beans are rather attractive, with yellow and white flowers followed by lush green foliage as the beans and pods develop. They do well when trained to grow up a trellis or a wigwam of willow sticks or bamboo poles – make sure your starting soil is well-fed and drained, and give the plants a helping hand as they begin to grow by teasing shoots around your trellising.

Striking red chard, vibrant green kale and dark and leafy cavolo nero are delicious vegetables that look great in amongst your flowering borders. Plant them close to the front of your border for ease of access, and then simply treat them as you would any other shrub or flower until it’s time to harvest.

Raised beds

If you have a bit more space to spare, a couple of raised beds can effectively act as a small allotment. You can buy wooden frames or make your own with low-cost decking boards. Here, you have greater control over the soil quality and can opt for larger volume vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers and other brassicas. It can be helpful to have one bed for vegetables and one for fruit – raspberry canes, currants, blackberry bushes and rhubarb plants all do really well in raised beds.

There’s no need to envy those allotment gardeners – beat them at their own game without even leaving your own property.

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