Updated: Apr 8
If you read my first post - Creating Your Own Forest School By Renting an Allotment (Or Using your Garden) then you've probably already got started and have your allotment or garden space all sorted, congratulations! Before you even think about planting though, you need to make sure you have the right tools for the job.
You can click on each item above to purchase them. I use the Spear and Jackson tools myself and swear by them. As for the seed starter pack, my step-daughter bought me these for Christmas and I absolutely loved them, there's loads in there! Whatever you do, don't scrimp on your secateurs and hand tools. You will use them so often they will quickly wear out and it will just cost you more in the long run.
A lot of gardeners will plant based on vegetable type. For example, brassics, root vegetables and other vegetables. Your brassics (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc) would stay in their own family, your root vegetables (onions, carrots, garlic etc) would stay in theirs and so on and so forth. But it's not terribly important if you don't keep them together. What is important is your crop rotation. Don't plant the same crop in the same spot each time as this will ruin the soil. Keep your soil healthy by rotating the crops, which you will probably find easier if you keep them in their families. Once you've planned your beds for your first year, you will start to draw a picture of when those crops will be ready to pick and then can plan your rotation for the following year or year after.
Here's a couple of great books that will help you get started. The Veg in One Bed book is great if you have a small space to work with.
Now you might be wondering why you would do all of this BEFORE you get your plot ready. The simple answer is, how can you ready your plot if you don't know where you're putting everything? Now you know how you should plant, it's time to start planning what you're going to plant and where. This is the exciting part! I love the free Veg Plotter app, once you get the hang of it, it's really simple to use. You may decide to break existing beds up into smaller ones. I would definitely recommend this if your plot is susceptible to water logging.
Now you have your seeds, you can do a bit of research on them and discover which ones need more sun than others, this will help you to plan where to plant. Some vegetables and fruit will need more space than others, like pumpkins for example. So now plan what you're going to plant and design your layout accordingly. If you want to plant more for your children, this is a great website that tells you how to make a children's allotment. Once you've done that, it's time to get to work!
LET'S GET DIGGING!
There's a very good, almost certain chance, you will do some digging now that you've planned your beds. If you're lucky, your allotment board may have a cultivator you can borrow which can help make light work of all that digging. This is the time to get the kids involved. It's time to pull out the weeds and turn the soil over, quite literally. Dump your unwanted plants and weeds in your compost bin. If you don't have one, you really need to get started on making one! Here's a great video to help you get started.
Ooh that reminds me, you will need a wheelbarrow if you're allotment doesn't have one you can use. It's going to get battered so don't spend too much on it, but likewise don't get something so flimsy it will fall apart after the first few fillings of soil. Try to get a second hand one if you can.
Use your family strengths to your advantage. For example when we started turning our allotment over, I did most of the digging, my boys worked together filling wheelbarrows full of wood chipping for the paths or digging out roots, and my husband did any heavy lifting that needed doing. Let the kids unleash themselves on stubborn roots in any which way they please. It might not be easy for them to dig them out of the ground so if they want to stamp on them instead, just let them. You can dig them out after and in the meantime, they have fun and won't get in your way.
We've started a family tradition of taking sausages with us and having sausage (or veggie sausage in my case) sandwiches for lunch. So take some basic camping gear with you and teach the kids some life skills.
If you're a homeschooler like me, use one of your weekdays to visit your garden or allotment and do something educational with the kids. Everything to do with the garden is educational! Whether it's planting, making a bird feeder or something else. We've made sundials that will be going into our allotment this year, and the boys have also helped (and hindered) in the planting department.
My next post will be on how to raise your beds and what method you should or could use for making light work of digging in the future. Thanks for reading! Remember, if you like the blog and the website, subscribe and be alerted when new posts come out!