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by Katie Hodgkins

Setting Up a Family Friendly Allotment

This week is National Allotment Week! If you’re a green fingered parent, or interested in taking on horticulture as a hobby to enjoy with your kids, then this guide is for you.

What is the aim of ‘National Allotment Week’?

National Allotment Week is a week dedicated to celebrating horticulture, growing your own fruit, vegetables and other plants, and promoting the benefits we can all reap from having an allotment. This years theme is ‘shared harvest’; The National Allotment Society will be celebrating the shared harvest by promoting donating surplus produce to food banks and other people. Sharing is caring, and this is a message we can get on board with at Bump, Baby & You!

How can I get my own allotment?

Getting your own allotment can take a while as demand is high and waiting lists are long – I’ve learned this from my own application which seems to be taking forever – so the best thing to do is apply on your local authority website. Find the list here.

You can also find more about plot vacancies advertised by NAS members here, and you can read the handy NAS leaflet on obtaining an allotment here.

I’ve got an allotment – what do I need to start an allotment I can enjoy with the kids?

So, you’ve got an allotment – congratulations! To start, we’d recommend the following basics (please make sure you’re allowed structures with your allotment landlord/local authority);

  • A secure shed – this one is really sturdy and reasonably priced*.
  • A water butt (adding guttering to the shed can help fill the butt). This slimline butt is perfect for an allotment*!
  • A mini greenhouse, polytunnel or cold frame.
  • Fruit cages are a good investment if you plan on growing fruit.
  • A watering can – see this duck one here*. It’s great for the kids, my son Max loves his!
  • A tool set; trowel, spade etc. See our favourite set for kids here*!
  • Gardening gloves – we love this pair for kids!*
  • If your site hasn’t got a toilet and you’re worried about little accidents, a compost toilet could be a good investment but you’ll need to ask for permission.
  • Seeds/bulbs/shoots for your chosen plants.
  • If you’re thinking of keeping animals, you’re allowed hens and rabbits under the 1950 Allotment Act unless your tenancy has a clause saying otherwise. This could be a really nice addition for little ones!

This personalised gardening set is perfect for mini gardeners! Click the image to see more*.

What are the best fruit and vegetables to grow with my kids?

We’ve asked our green fingered mummies and daddies which produce their kids love to grow; plants that don’t need too much maintenance tend to be a good choice.

  • Strawberries
  • Pea pods
  • Blackberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Sunflowers
  • Marrow
  • Pumpkins

To make harvesting more fun, you could set challenges for the kids; first to collect 10 strawberries wins a prize, for example! Or perhaps the biggest pumpkin wins?

How do I find out when to grow our chosen produce?

This guide by Love The Garden will show you when to grow most popular vegetables.

This chart by The Royal Horticultural Society will show you when to grow most popular fruits.

Other tips for family friendly allotment keeping

From speaking to families who keep an allotment, we’ve gathered that these 5 tips will help keep everyone happy on gardening days;

  • Always pack a picnic. ‘Short’ trips are always bound to overrun, and gardening is hungry work. You also want to avoid the kids getting cranky!
  • Take chairs; if possible, store some in a shed, as you and the kids will want to take a break and sitting in the dirt won’t be ideal.
  • Bees and other pollinators are friends, not foes – even wasps.
  • Be realistic with the amount of time it takes to get growing established – it won’t happen overnight.
  • Always plan activities for the kids to do if their attention becomes diverted from planting, pruning or gathering produce. This guide by our guest blogger Amy could be handy!

Are you an avid gardener with tips to share that you think we should add to this? Let us know in the comments!

Love from Katie & Team & BBY! Xx

Katie Hodgkins Image
I'm Katie, and I'm a mama, wife, and freelance content creator for Bump, Baby & You. I also help to run our thriving online community over in our Facebook support group, as well as volunteering for my local branch of the National Childbirth Trust. I'm a busy bee and enjoy keeping active, cooking, writing, and fun days out with my little family. My special topics of interest are... autism (as me and my son are both autistic), science, all things parenting and pregnancy related, and The Handmaids Tale!
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