Next week, 13-19 August allotment sites across the UK are opening their gates, showing off their skills, sharing their joy in gardening and communal endeavour to encourage everyone to grow food in their own gardens, balconies and backyards. There are open days during the whole of August in Leicester and Nuneaton along with BBQs, exhibitions, produce stalls, music and even chicken poo bingo on sites across the country. Click here to view a list.
The National Allotment Society are also hoping that visitors to Allotment Open Days and Events held during the week will be inspired to hone their horticultural skills and consider taking on an allotment for themselves. Renting an allotment gives you access to the space necessary for growing crops like potatoes, onions, sweetcorn etc but it is also possible to grow food in small spaces. Many vegetables have attractive leaves and flowers and look great in a cottage garden or backyard. Runner and French bean flowers come in white, red, purple and yellow and will clamber up a support in a sunny spot. Most salad ingredients are quick and easy to grow in pots of good compost, cut and come gain lettuce will even thrive in a semi-shady spot. Herbs are a vital ingredient for most cooks and can be grown in pots by the kitchen door and rosemary or lavender can make a low hedge. Strawberries will look attractive and produce fruit in a hanging basket if kept well- watered. Small fruit trees on dwarfing root stock are a productive and pretty addition to any garden and, if kept in pots, can be transferred to an allotment.
The Society’s Horticultural Expert Mike Thurlow has also pointed out that this summer’s heatwave has bestowed some benefits to home growers by reducing aphid numbers, sending slugs underground and giving us tastier and earlier crops.
National Allotments Week started in 2002 as a way of raising awareness of allotments and the role they play in helping people to live healthier lifestyles, grow their own food, develop friendships and bolster communities. The campaign week is still thriving 12 years later and interest in growing your own fruit and vegetables has never been stronger since the WW2 Grow for Victory campaign.