How many people are giving up their allotment plots after this poor growing season?Our letting secretary said on Sunday four more plot holders were discouraged by the bad growing season.This makes twelve vacant plots this year,we have a waiting list so the plots will be taken.Is it all down to the weather?most if not all the ones leaving have only had a couple of years growing.Were they as new comers expecting too much one couple said we have spent a small fortune over the last two years but missed the point when I said you need to spend time on an allotment not loads of money,what do other old and new allotmenteers think?
Not from the allotmenteers point, but from the growers point I could moan and moan and moan.
The early warm weather meant everyone wanted things too early - which causes the issue of send early and get complaint when the late frosts kill them - or delay sending and get complained for lateness in the season. We always choose the latter (as we do on our own gardens) and blame the magazines for pushing everything way to early!
Then we had the cold, wet and low light.
And finally a late summer before it drawing back in.
Sadly many expect expect a lot for a little - and in a good year that is possible. In an ok year they will think results are passable. In a bad year they will give up.
If every grower in the UK took the same view I'm not sure what would be available for sale (seed or plants!)
The fact there is a waiting list proves there is a need - the fact that some give up proves that gardening is not as fashionable as some would like to think!
Its all about "hard graft" and copious quantities of manure....
Agree with Stephen's reply, just to add that people who give up to soon cannot have much determination or interest in the first place.Reminds me when i was a 9 year old learning fresh water fishing,caught nothing for ages but perseverance paid off eventually.As you say Tony,spending the time on a project is the key.
I'm not an allotmenteer but I do have a good sized garden and this year has been difficult but certainly not a disaster. People who give up anything at the first or second attempt were never really that interested in the first place. I play guitar and spent many years practicing almost every day because I wanted to be a guitarist. After 50 years I'm reasonably proficient but, truth be told, I'm probably a better gardener than guitarist.
It's a fact of life that whenever something becomes fashionable people will all want to be part of it but it's also a fact that if you put nowt into into it you'll get nowt out of it.
I think part of the problem is gardening programs make it seem so easy,with no idea what goes on when the cameras are not there.never a mention of every aphid known to man,soil pests wire worms chafer grubs,club root.parsnip canker,and the real put off for new gardeners WEEDS.I've been on my allotment 60years and have seen mainly over the last six years new comers arrive clear the plots,sow the seeds then turn up weeks later expecting a crop ready to pick,and are amazed to see nothing but weeds.Then again new comers looking round for a plot and asking if it will be cleared ready for planting when they take it on People have asked me on open days when the public can just walk in "how long do you spend on your plot?"when I tell them at least 4 hours a day seven days a week almost every week of the year they realise an allotment is quite a commitment if you want the best from it.
So many thoughts on this, but here's just a few.
Here in Edinburgh there are 2 people on the waiting list for every one who has a plot already. Sadly the Council has decided that given the laws of supply and demand they can put their rent up - from £30 to £100 between 2005 and 2012. I feel sure that the die hards will cling on until they die - and I include myself in that catagory - whatever the weather or the charges. The failure rate of newstarts must be very high as many have unrealistic expectation and don't understand that as well as the rent they HAVE to contribute money, effort and TIME if they are going to stay ahead of the weeds. There is sacrifice involved in order to get a return, so if you watch wall to wall telly (including the tour de France, Football, Olympics, Golf and then jet off for the required annual foreign holiday, redecorate your house, or sadly fall ill, you will soon find things slipping at the plot. The Council think of it as a pure leisure facility when they set the rent. It's a lot more than that. If the Grow Your Own boom turns to bust (and I don't think it will with food prices going the way they are in the supermarkets) the waiting list ensures that new candidates will come forward for some time to come - no matter how realistic their expectations.
You are right about councils they are quick to raise the rent but offer very little in return,as for holidays I've not had one before Novenber for many years.Our site is self managed with rents set at 8p per sqm the council charge 20p per sqm,my 480sqm would be close to £100 if council owned plus liability insurance ,water rates,extra money for a shed and green house.Twelve years ago we had 40 vacant plots ,and the die hards between us kept the site going,now the committtee seem to want us to leave so the plots we have can be split into half and third plots.,these may reduce the waiting list but once a plot goes below a half plot theres not enough sqm to produce a lot of veg have a shed and a green house.But I think the boom will end and people like your self will still be going strong
Anyone giving up so quickly is not a real gardener and clearly has no stamina. Half of the 'fun' is the fact that it's too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot, too windy, too............
What I have been trying to establish is what makes people who are not cut out for gardening take on an allotment plot Our letting secretary tries his best to select who he thinks are going to make it,some are obviously never going to make growers but others have all the right answers.
You are right Debbie the very things you mention are the regular excuses we hear for neglected plots and for giving up.but these are the same people who are creating waiting lists and pushing up the cost of allotments,and I do believe TV gardening programs are what encourages them it looks so easy and fresh home produce sounds ideal ,lets have a real gardeners program that shows hard works and some of the pitfalls
This is interesting and something I have been thinking about. We have also had a pattern of several plotholders who have given up after a very short time (and not jus this year)-not withstanding a lot of money spent initially on raised beds and new sheds and fancy paving. You are so right-it is time spent in small but regular stretches rather than huge back-breaking one off long days on an irregular basis. I also think there should be a warning to all newcomes-plan your holidays around the growing season!! Long Spring and Summer cruises are just not on...end of November is about right
Thats it in a nut shell Sue
The allotment is my holiday, taken on a regular basis, would sooner be up on the plot, than a Spanish beach.