Allotment Gardening - the benefits of growing your own

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The post war image of allotments being gardened by working-class men growing leeks in their flat caps and wellies is long gone.  The demand for allotments has certainly fluctuated over time but in recent years there seems to have been an upsurge of interest in growing our own crops, probably due to concerns about chemical pollution, contamination of our food and genetic modification of our foodstuffs.  Our desire to ‘eat clean’ and seek the ultimate in freshness has seen many of us grabbing a garden spade and digging a veggie patch.  We have even jumped on board here at Coolings with the opening or our Plot to Plate greenhouse earlier in the year where we grow variety of crops for use in our dishes in Arthurs restaurant.


What exactly is an Allotment?
In a nutshell, an allotment is a community garden primarily for growing food crops.  Small parcels of land are rented to individuals and are often owned by local government or self-managed and owned by the allotment holders through an association.  The concept of allotments is thought to go back over a thousand years to when the Saxons would clear a field from woodland which would be held in common. 

Allotments have been invaluable to us throughout history and have literally dug us out of a crisis on more than one occasion…the Victorians used them to provide a healthy diet and lifestyle for the lower classes and lets not forget the famous ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign during the second world war which educated the public to produce their own food to help safeguard shipping for precious war materials.


Benefits of owning an Allotment?
Well, where to start?  As we have found out recently with the opening of our Plot to Plate greenhouse, growing your own is a very rewarding hobby.  It is so satisfying seeing and tasting the fruits of your labour served on a plate.    Allotments allow us to grow fresh, organic crops that suit our own tastes, such as fruit and veg which alternatively may be expensive to buy in the supermarket.  You will also escape all those pesticide residues.  On top of all that, you’ll get plenty of healthy exercise without paying for a gym membership and you’ll enjoy the camaraderie with friends on your plot, which will quickly grow into a friendly and welcoming community of gardeners to socialise amongst.

The recent promise from the National Trust to create 1,000 new allotments may tempt you to take up a plot.  In which case you may need to look further into the pleasures and pitfalls of allotment gardening.  However, if you are more ‘Gro-bag’ than ‘Good life’ then fear not, every little counts!

 

Happy Growing!

P.S.  Don't forget, we are always willing to pass on our knowledge here at Coolings.  Want to know more about gardening but don’t know where to start? Why not try our 'How to be a Successful Gardener' course?  Whether it’s the basics of gardening you want to learn about (preparing soil, how to plant up, how to prune, growing in containers, composting and making it all look good etc), how to grow your own vegetables or learning more about wildlife in the garden, this course can help you. It’s split into two (15 week) modules so you can do both or just the one you are most interested in. No prior knowledge or experience is required just a practical, hands on course for people who have an interest in gardening or who are just starting out and want to learn the principles of modern day gardening. 3 hours a week

(If you haven’t visited our Plot to Plate Greenhouse yet, make sure you pay it a visit next time you are in store.)

 

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