Case Study: Rebecca’s allotment

An allotment plot with green plants in the foreground and a wheelbarrow in the background.

We spoke to local resident Rebecca Turner about her decision to rent an allotment in Staveley and what her experience of growing her own produce has been like so far.

What motivated you to rent an allotment plot in Staveley last year?

Growing up, I loved spending time in my Gran’s vegetable garden so, as an adult, I knew I wanted my own plot to grow vegetables.

Even more of an incentive is my (now) 3 year old son – my boyfriend and I want to include him and encourage him to enjoy the planting, growing and picking process as much as we do, which he will hopefully carry on into his own adulthood.

Could you share the main plan or vision you had for your allotment plot?

Last year, the plan was to grow as many vegetables as we could – we really wanted to not rely on the supermarket so much for our food. Any glut could be swapped or made into soups or sauces and frozen. I also specifically grew certain vegetables I could use in cakes.

This year, I think we will be more organised and have less variety so as we plant more items that we know will grow successfully.

‘Picking home grown vegetables fills you with such a great sense of achievement, and knowing they’ve been grown without nasty chemicals is even better!’

Rebecca Turner

Which specific produce did you choose to grow, and when did you plant them?

We planted quite a lot! We grew potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, spring onions, peas, beans, beetroot, courgette, pumpkins and Brussels sprouts. We also had strawberries, rhubarb and raspberry bushes already on the plot. I specifically grew pumpkins for Halloween, and courgettes and beetroot for cakes.

We started sowing them in March last year, growing them on windowsills all around the house. Then, we moved them out to our little greenhouse in the garden to harden up and eventually we planted them out on the allotment according to which month was recommended.

Reflecting on your first 12 months of renting the allotment, what were some notable pros and cons you encountered?

Pros – Picking home grown vegetables fills you with such a great sense of achievement, and knowing they’ve been grown without nasty chemicals is even better. Plus we’ve only just exhausted our supply of potatoes from last year’s allotment!

Cons – Trying to keep everything watered in the long weeks of hot summer. This was hard going and ended up with me pushing various containers of water to the allotment in my son’s buggy, slopping most of it on the way much to peoples amusement. There are now water containers on the allotment so this will not be an issue this year thankfully! Also, cost – until we know what we are doing, I think that we are spending more than we are saving growing our own vegetables. Neither of these are huge issues though in the long term.

Looking back, would you consider your first year of allotment gardening a success?

I would definitely say yes, and also a learning curve, which, talking to other allotment holders, we are all on! Some seedlings grew and some failed but overall I’m more than pleased with what we achieved last year and I’m excited about what we will achieve this year.

What aspects of growing and maintaining your plot did you find most enjoyable?

Seeing everything growing on each visit is very exciting, and of course harvesting and eating your own produce gives you the best feeling!