If you are lucky enough to get yourself an allotment plot, pretty much do the opposite of everything I say here and you should be harvesting veg in no time. Unfortunately, time travel not having been invented yet, I did things the hard way.
You’ve been given an allotment tenancy, hoorah! What not to do next.
Take over your plot in September, spend £30 on the largest can of Jeyes fluid you’ve seen in your life to disinfect the chicken coop and then allow family stuff to get in the way so you fail to go back for more than a fleeting visit until January. Weeds will grow and the Jeyes fluid will be sitting unopened in the shed because H5N1 seems preferable to dealing with the 5 foot high thistles which have taken root everywhere by the end of May.
What not to do and how not to do it, by month
January. Go and visit your plot in January, dig over half of it, weed the polytunnel, install a water butt and then fail to return until March.
February. While the country is lashed with storms and floods are everywhere, sow a tonne of seeds indoors to satiate your need to grow things while failing to visit your plot. Order the compost online rather than going to a garden centre, and ignore all advice about seed compost because it doesn’t make any difference.* You’re convinced the polytunnel will have blown away anyway and that the place will be carnage so it doesn’t really matter that you don’t go up.
March. During the month of March, despatch your dad (or suitable substitute) to go and see if it’s all been flattened, rather than going to visit your plot yourself. Upon receiving the good news that it’s nothing more serious than a blown over compost bin, don’t go and make a start on jobs like weeding and digging as the ground warms up. Stay home and tend your increasingly pot-bound seedlings instead.
April. Don’t visit your plot, but do weed your garden at home. Sort out the seedlings and start using seed compost and not the coir/acid mix you bought online. Curse the weather. which sees all the good days coincide with your work days and all your weekends wet and horrible.
May. Spend most of May planting things intended for the allotment into your small garden. Fill your raised bed with fruit bushes and plant everything else in tubs. All your peas have died except one, so your harvest for 2014 is likely to comprise six pods. Your dwarf French beans will hate the raised bed because they need the fertile soil of the allotment, but by the time you realise this it will be too late to move them again. Resolve to do better, take a week off and go to your plot.
On your plot
You’ll be greeted by a plot filled with thistles, dandelion and even what appears to be wheat, growing to about level with your face – certainly over the heads of any small children you may wish to lose. Plant tomatoes in the polytunnel and then leave them (without watering) for a week. Spend several days pulling up weeds and become a regular at the local tip, since you don’t want to compost any of it. Pull a pectoral muscle and don’t go back for a week.
Upon your return
Marvel at the survival of your tomatoes, which are not only very much alive, but have grown as well. In your absence the bits you cleared last time will have become covered with all sorts of ground-covering plants and it’ll look like you didn’t bother. Clear those, and keep battling until eventually you start to see bare earth.
So there you are: June and the only things I have growing are the tomato plants in the polytunnel. As I type this, my arms, back and just about everything else is protesting but in an hour or so, when things cool down, I’ll head back up to the plot and carry on. With any luck I can have some beds made and veg in the ground by the weekend.
*it really, really does…