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Helpful Tips and Advice for the Allotment Gardener

Sally has been a prolific writer of wet felting tutorials for several years with the occasional foray into literature and much more...

Lady Scarecrow

Lady Scarecrow

Ingenuity and Humor

A recent walk on the wild side in the fields of Suffolk revealed an Allotment which was hidden just behind the back of a church. With camera in hand, I discovered that humor has a very important role to play in the lives of the gardeners on this allotment. Their ingenuity takes recycling to a new level. Add to the mix a few beautiful pigs and goats on an adjoining plot and you have an idyllic situation. I hope you will come along to enjoy the ‘fruits’ of their labor. I hope you will share some of their amazing ideas and tips with friends and neighbors or just anyone who just happens to love gardening as much as those folk so clearly do.

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A - Z Guide

Acrylic/Polycarbonate Sheeting

Can be used to cover seedlings with

Animal waste including horse manure

Can be used to enrich the soil.

Ash from wood fires

If it does not contain toxic material it can be used to fertilize the garden. Ash contains valuable minerals which improve soil quality.

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Wire Netting

Wire Netting

Overweight Scarecrow, he has clearly been eating more than just greens.

Overweight Scarecrow, he has clearly been eating more than just greens.

Every man or woman should have their own shed!

Every man or woman should have their own shed!

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Bathtubs

Can be used to collect rainwater or use them as planters

Bed slats

Can be used to make raised bed systems.

Bins and recycling boxes

Scroll to Continue

Use for storage or for planting

Bubble Wrap

This is a cheaper alternative to horticultural fleece. Cover seedlings on a cold night and it will provide insulation and protection against frost on cold Wintery nights.

Buckets, bowls and baskets

All of these can be used to collect, carry fruit or vegetables home to the family.

Buckets, glass or plastic containers

All of the above can be used for storing water.

Blue Water Pipes

Can be cut and bent into a curved shape. Push a small piece of cane into the each end and then push the wooden end 6 – 8 inches into the ground and cover with netting.Attach a piece of wire or rope down the full length of the curves and use tent pegs to hold them in the ground.Cover with netting which can sometimes be obtained free from a building site as it can only be used once.

Branches

Use them to build a wildlife wall. If they are too thick, compost them

Black piping which has been used to help protect young plants.

Black piping which has been used to help protect young plants.

Branches and canes supporting plants

Branches and canes supporting plants

Blue Plastic Piping and Netting

Blue Plastic Piping and Netting

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Cardboard

Compost or use as insulation to suppress weeds.. Cardboard can be recycled in your recycling bin at home or at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. It is a good way of reducing smells and increases the effectiveness of the compost bin by providing air pockets which help to aerate the other materials.

Carpeting

Can be used to suppress weeds

Cardboard boxes

Can be added to the compost bin, shredded or put in a Wormery. Burnt, they can be used as a good source of potash, which helps promote root growth and make fruit and vegetables taste better.

Carpet plastic wrap

Can be used to make a Greenhouses or Cloches. Use overwinter on the ground as a weed suppressant.

Carpet Strips

Use on decking to avoid slipping when the weather is frosty.

CD’s

String up around the allotment to scare the birds off. The birds appear not to like the random glare which the CD's give off, especially when the sun is reflected in them.

Clothes Pegs

Can be used for labels. Draw on the plastic at the top with an indelible pen.

Collapsible Crates and Boxes

Useful for carrying items to and from the allotment.

A Scarecrow minus his hat

A Scarecrow minus his hat

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Drinks Bottles,

Large plastic coke bottles can be used to make mini greenhouses..

Rear view of the lady scarecrow

Rear view of the lady scarecrow

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Egg shells

Egg shells are a good way to add lime to your compost. It reduces the acidity which creatures such as worms dislike. Worms are an important part of the composting process.

Egg shells can be a slug deterrent – crush them and sprinkle them around your prized plants. They can be sourced from places such as a Café, which serves breakfast.

a-z-guide-to-recycling-for-allotment-gardeners

Feathers

are a great source of nitrogen and are good for use in the garden, especially for soft fruit like raspberries and strawberries. Add a thin layer to the bottom of the hole when planting.

Feather dusters

Can be used to pollinate cherries.

Fruit and vegetable scraps

Compost with garden waste to produce a rich soil conditioner. Do not home compost meat.

Fish tanks

Can be used as a mini greenhouse or cold frame.

Fridges and Freezers

Paint with Hammerite which will make them appear more aesthetically pleasing. They make good cupboards in which to store items and keep them free from rodents.

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Green waste

Use for composting

Garden Furniture

Every man or Woman needs a garden shed, recycled furniture will allow them to sit back to admire the ‘fruit’ of their labor.

Glass

Can be sourced from local Glaziers and used as frames or cold frames/shed windows

Glass Jar's

Can be used to store seed and make jam/chutney/pickle making (metal lids)

Grass

This can be composted along with equal quantities of dry twigs, scrunched up Paper, junk mail or newspaper which prevents it from becoming smelly and soggy.

She's a woman

She's a woman

a-z-guide-to-recycling-for-allotment-gardeners

Hanging basket frames,

Metal or basket type can be used to protect small seedlings or plants

Hair, real or false

Can be used to make bird scarers and can also be composted

Keeping watch

Keeping watch

a-z-guide-to-recycling-for-allotment-gardeners

Ice cream tubs

These are good for indoor compost collection or can be used along with cardboard cylinders to produce plant cylinders. Put six to eight in the container and then fill them with soil.

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Jam jars

Should be saved for pickling fruit and vegetables or for storing seeds.

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Kitchen waste

Add it to the compost bin and remember not to ever use raw meat.

a-z-guide-to-recycling-for-allotment-gardeners

Margarine tubs

Can be cut up and made into very useful white plant labels, Use with lollipop sticks. Can also be used as planting pot’s or seed storage.

Manure

Can be sourced from local stables or farms

Metal dustbins

Use to store compost in

Metal wire reinforcing

Metal wire reinforcing can be made into wonderful tomato supports. Twist them into long cylindrical shapes and pop them over the tomato plants where they will support the growing plants beautifully.

Metal headboard and foot boards

These can be used to support runner beans or French beans.

Metal water drums

cut in half which can be used to make raised beds with.

Milk bottles and Aluminium drinks cans

These make great safety covers for the tops of pointy sticks and canes, and double up as effective bird scarers when they rattle in the wind.

Microwave ovens

Can be used for storing seeds

Nylon tights could be used instead of a mask to give a sculptured look such as this example to a scarecrow's face

Nylon tights could be used instead of a mask to give a sculptured look such as this example to a scarecrow's face

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Newspaper

Can be used to stuff Scarecrows with. Put them into used plastic bags to keep them dry.

Nylon Tights

Can be useful for sculpturin' scarecrow faces or for stringing up and storing onions to help give them a longer shelf life. Place one onion into the tights, tie a knot and repeat until you reach the top of the tights. Hang the knotted onions onto a hook.

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Old Wardrobes

Can be used as raised beds with the door taken off.

Old Wellington boots

Make decorative planters with them or they can become an essential part of the Scarecrow’s attire.

Orange Construction Netting

Can be used to cover blue or yellow piping cloches

Apple trees and Artichoke

Apple trees and Artichoke

Strawberry Plants - a must have plant on the Allotment

Strawberry Plants - a must have plant on the Allotment

A collection of items which are being used on the Allotment

A collection of items which are being used on the Allotment

Compost bin made from pallet wood

Compost bin made from pallet wood

Composting material

Composting material

a-z-guide-to-recycling-for-allotment-gardeners

Paint

Use leftover paint for painting a shed

Plastic downpipes

Drill holes into them with a circular saw bit. The holes should be big enough to plant a young strawberry plant into. Begin by filling the bottom of the pipe with good soil and backfill as you move up the pipe until you have a row of strawberries going up the piple. Hang a row of pipes against a wall or netting fence so that you end up with a wall of strawberries.

Plastic Milk Bottles, Drink Cans and CDs

These can be used to keep the birds away. Place sticks in the ground and put plastic bottles on top. and tie string along the top and hangs CDs down with extra string.

Hangs CDs up with string to keep the birds away.

Probiotic drink bottles and plastic vitamin containers

Put them on the end of wooden canes to prevent accidental poking of eyes.


Pallets

  • Lay them flat on the ground. Fill the gaps with good compost and soil. Plants seedlings into the soil between the slats. This will eliminate hours of weeding between the seedlings and keeps your shoes clean and dry.
  • They can be used as vertical planters. Lean them against a shed wall especiallywhere space is an issue. Staple thick plastic to the back, sides and bottom of the pallet and fill with good soil and compost. Plant herbs or lettuce inbetween the rows of wood.
  • Can be used to make the backbone and shoulders of Scarecrow
  • Can be used to make compost bins
  • Useful for making shelves or sheds

Paint

Leftover paint can be used to give the allotment shed a new look

Paint

Leftover paint can be used to give the allotment shed a new look

Paint

Leftover paint can be used to give the allotment shed a new look

Metal Fan Scarer

Metal Fan Scarer

Face drawn on a plastic milk bottle to scare the birds

Face drawn on a plastic milk bottle to scare the birds

Plastic plant scarers

Plastic plant scarers

a-z-guide-to-recycling-for-allotment-gardeners

Raincoats or safety jackets

These are great for keeping Scarecrows warm and dry

Rubber Gloves

Useful in the garden but make very wearable attire for Scarecrows

Safety jackets definitely have more than one use.  Scarecrow wearing a safety jacket

Safety jackets definitely have more than one use. Scarecrow wearing a safety jacket

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Spice bottles

Put these onto the top of canes in the allotment so that the canes don’t poke you eye out

Stepladders

These make excellent supports for broad beans or tomatoes. Stack them with pallet wood and they make excellent plant shelves.

Straw or Hay

Use for stuffing Scarecrows


Plastic sheeting keeping the weeds at bay

Plastic sheeting keeping the weeds at bay

Plastic and glass bottles used for water storage or drip systems

Plastic and glass bottles used for water storage or drip systems

Water storage and netting to protect plants

Water storage and netting to protect plants

Tractor tyre - these make great compost bins or planters.

Tractor tyre - these make great compost bins or planters.

a-z-guide-to-recycling-for-allotment-gardeners

Tent Pegs

These are essential for fixing weed proof membrane to the ground.

Tights or Stockings

Can be used to string or store onions to help give them a long shelf life. Place one onion into the tights, tie a knot and repeat until you reach the top of the tights. Hang the knotted onions onto a hook.

Protect ripening fruit such as melons in the same way. This will prevent birds and animals from getting to the ripening fruit.

Tyre Planters

Grow potatoes in a stack of several car tyres. It will save you having to ‘earth’ them up

Tyre's Compost Bins

Put three in a stack and slowly fill with compost material. As the sun heats up the tyres will accelerate decomposition. To harvest the compost, simply remove one tyre at a time and dig the compost out. The tyres can be used as structures in which to grow tomatoes. The heat given off by them helps to encourage growth.

Toilet rolls

These can be used to protect young leeks when they first start growing.

Toilet roll and kitchen roll

Put six to eight cardboard tubes into a plastic ice-cream tub. Fill the tubes with good soil before planting runner beans or tomatoes. Place a small plastic money bag on the top. This will act as a small greenhouse. Plant the rolls straight into the garden with the cardboard tube intact, it will decompose. Plant carrots in them and you should end up with long straight carrots. Beans can be planted the same way. Start them off in the greenhouse. Six to eight cardboard tubes will fit perfectly into a fruit punnet.

Vegetable and fruit peelings

Can be put into the compost bin

Wooden shed or Privy

Wooden shed or Privy

a-z-guide-to-recycling-for-allotment-gardeners

Water containers and water Butts

These are essential items for the Allotment Gardener and if you find some free on freecycle grab them with both hands.

Wellington Boots

They can be used as part of the Scarecrows attire. Can be used as decorative planters.

Wheelbarrows

Rusty old wheelbarrows make great planters.

White Goods

Can be used for storage on the allotment. Paint white goods with Hammerite, this way they will blend in harmoniously into the surroundings without rusting.

Wood Chippings

Source wood chippings from local Tree Surgeons. It can be composted or used as a mulch to keep gardens free of weeds.

Wooden Scaffold Boards

These can be used to make raised garden beds or shelves in the shed.

Wool Rich Carpets

Can help keep weeds at bay on paths and is sometimes used to help insulate compost heaps or the soil during the winter. Wool carpet also has very high nitrogen content and it has been proven that they can considerably increase plant growth.

Wooden Bed Slats

Can be used to make raised bed systems.

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Yoghurt Pots or plastic pots

These can be be used to plant seedlings into. Punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage.

Yellow plastic pots

The color yellow is said to attract slugs and snails. Pour beer into them and the slugs and snails should drown their sorrows in a beer. A fitting end to this tale.

Hot Tips

  1. Growing and eating your own food can be a very satisfying occupation. Growing them on an allotment with people who share your interest makes it even more interesting. The plus factor is that you will always know where you vegetables or fruit are coming from and you may even form deep friendships with people who share your interests.
  2. Never throw anything away.
  3. Become a hoarder.
  4. Nurture the plants which you inherit from a previous allotment owner. The Apple Trees and Artichoke Plants in these images are the perfect the example of this. These plants might last for 20 years and by inheriting these established plants and trees you are surely a right winner. Resist the urge to rip out anything up before you have assessed the potential of your site.
  5. Old trees may benefit from some pruning. but most of them will outlive you and provide you and friends and neighbors with delicious fruit. Think hard about their potential before you rip them out.
  6. Only grow Plants which you and your family enjoy eating.
  7. Grow tomatoes and strawberries. When all else fails these two fruits make it worthwhile.
  8. Grow vegetables which are expensive to buy in the shops. Don’t grow fruit or vegetables which can be picked up from the grocer for next to nothing. Grow things like Butternut Squash, especially if you don’t have a lot of space. Potatoes take up more room.
  9. Don't rush in and try to do too much digging too quickly.
  10. Start your ground preparation in autumn and aim to complete your digging by the end of the year.
  11. Remove perennial weeds; try not to break their roots and try not to leave pieces in the ground. These will only grow again.
  12. Start a compost heap.
  13. Don’t sow seeds too early. Make sure that the ground dry is dry and warm before you start planting
  14. Water newly planted seedlings regularly and try to collect as much rainwater as you can. Rainwater is much better for your plants and is good for the environment.
  15. Plant seeds in rows where possible. It makes it easier to weed between them
  16. Put mulch down onto bare soil, it will help to slow the growth of weeds and improve water retention.
  17. Aim to get a succession of crops throughout the year.
  18. if you Allotment is part of an association, join it. You will meet new friends and you may even get the opportunity to participate in some of the social activities which they arrange.
  19. Learn from more experienced Allotment Owners and follow their example. If they tell you the Badgers will destroy your sweet corn, you had better believe them.
  20. Online Allotment forums are great places to exchange ideas. Tap into to this great resource and don’t be shy to ask questions when you need answers.
  21. Start blogging
  22. Chart your successes or failures on the Allotment. Take plenty of before and after photos so that you can chart your journey. Monetize your site with Google Adsense and you may even earn money from your writing to pay for your seeds.
A place to contemplate and enjoy a drink after an enjoyable days work.

A place to contemplate and enjoy a drink after an enjoyable days work.

A row of curious black pigs

A row of curious black pigs

A goat looks across to the allotment

A goat looks across to the allotment

Do your have any recycling or gardening tips please?

If you have any of your own recycling tips please would you share them us.

I will add them to this growing list of gardening and recycling tips for the Allotment owners everywhere.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 11, 2020:

I often plant tomatoes in my hanging baskets, also strawberries and chillies. There is something so nice about being able to pick your own produce even if you live in a small space as do I. Thank you once again for stopping by to comment. It is much appreciated. You have made my day:)

KonaGirl from New York on February 10, 2020:

I so dearly miss my gardens from my home. As we got older we had to downsize and now I have a tiny garden in front of our apartment.

All of your wonderful tips have brought back memories of how we use to recycle and compost. We grew enough veggies to supply our neighbors and the local shelter. Our lovely neighbors were comfortable enough to come over and pick what they wanted while sharing a glass of wine. It was a wonderful time.

Now my tiny garden still supplies us with what we need and a few neighbors. Some of my cayenne chilies, jalapenos, and serrano chilies are given to the local brewmaster in town and his wife returns the gesture with one of their lovely bottles of hot sauce. Gardens are a wonderful passion to have while helping keep the environment clean at the same time!