When you first start on your new allotment, you may be a little apprehensive at first, about meeting the neighbours, but actually this isn’t too bad as the sort of people that ‘do’ allotments are gardeners, and gardeners, in the main, are ‘nice’ people.
As a newcomer, you’ll be joining an already established community so it may take a while before you get to know everybody, but in next to no time you’ll become part of the group. To help you ‘fit-in’ more easily you’ll need to observe the unspoken plot etiquette that operates on most sites. This generally consists of good manners, consideration and tolerance and is mainly common sense, some of it even ‘blindingly obvious’! The following will give you a few pointers to make settling in easier.
A new plot holder, and even existing plot holders, may think it could be a good idea to share an allotment with a friend. Apart from being prohibited by a clause in you tenancy agreement, it’s generally not a good idea anyway. You will be reliant on your co-sharer to pull their weight, and they on you. Should either one of you fail to keep your part of the plot up to scratch, you risk losing your whole plot. Both of you will suffer the loss of the allotment garden, and possibly the loss of a friendship as well.
The tenancy agreement applies only between the council and the ‘named tenant’. There have been instances where a husband and wife have taken on a plot in the older partner’s name because they qualify for pensioner rebate, even though it is the younger partner that ‘does’ the plot’. If the older partner should unfortunately die, the tenancy automatically lapses and the ‘doing’ partner does not automatically keep the plot. The named tenant may not bequeath the tenancy of the plot to the next of kin, or anyone else, as an inheritance.
If however, having taken on a plot and having given it your best shot, you aren’t enjoying it, or have insufficient time, or decide that allotment gardening is just not for you, then let the Prudhoe Gardeners’ Association know and give it up. Folk will think better of you if you give your plot up voluntarily, rather than wait for the hassle of being ‘chucked off’ and leaving an overgrown wilderness to be cleared.
Should you decide that you’d like a shed, or a greenhouse, or any other structure, on your plot, you need to talk to the Prudhoe Gardeners’ Association – just drop into the Hut on any Saturday morning.
Bonfires are permitted with some guidelines to be followed – do not annoy the neighbours.
You should respect the allotments of your fellow gardeners and not wander onto them without permission. If you have a dog, you are expected to keep it under control at all times and not allow it to roam freely on other plots. You are expected to clean up after it, especially on communal areas and pathways. Similarly, if you bring your children onto the site, you are expected to supervise them and not to permit them to wander onto other plots, or become too noisy, and to ensure they tidy up after themselves too.
Many allotment gardeners like a bit of peace and quiet while spending time on their plot; they don’t necessarily want to listen to the latest pop tunes or the test match special, on someone else’s radio, so personal earphones are a good idea, even if it is your favourite operatic aria!
One of the great moments you will enjoy is the taste of those first crops that you have been patiently waiting to harvest. Another source of pleasure will be sharing them with your family, friends and dinner guests.