The Planning of Our Allotment Plot

I have been thinking long and hard what I would like to do with the plot, it is a lot bigger then an average size allotment plot standing at 100 square meters in total. Now that is a very big plot to have, the only unfortunate thing about having this plot is that there is no water access on site. This means I need to collect as much rain water as possible, which I really needed to take into consideration when doing my plot planning for this year. Currently on the plot I have 5 sort of water butts full to the brim with rain water, they were left from the previous owner who left many months before I got the plot. In time since they left and I received the plot, it must have rained a fair few days to fill them all to the top. Having five water butts full is amazing but they are spread out all across the plot, two catching water off the shed roof and three catching the water off the green house roof. Me personally I would prefer to have all my water in one location on the plot, as this way it doesn’t take up loads of little places across the plot and it’s just one bigger space taken for water collection. 

Moving all the water to one location also means I need to have loads of smaller water contains running in an overfill system, which means that the water would fill up one container which is elevated higher then the container next to it. When this container fills up to the top (or very near the top) the excess water would go down and hose into the next container using gravity, it is a plausible system that I wouldn’t see any issue with it not working. I would just need to make sure that the first container is up high enough compared to the other containers, then make sure the containers then dragged down in a sustained fashion so that the water will travel freely down to the following containers.

The other option I have available is to use an IBC, which is a 1000L water tank used to store anything from just water up to hydrochloric acid (which can melt bodies, thank you Breaking Bad). The main concern I have about an IBC tho is that it is quite large in size, it probably won’t take up as much space as the previous system I spoke about but it will take up nearly as much. Also the other concern I have is the price, they can range from £15 each (used) all the way up to £150 (new). Buying an IBC for £15 usually means that it has had some kind of harmful chemical in that you don’t really want to have trace elements of on your vegetables, sometimes you might be lucky and find one for that cheap that has only had water in (highly unlikely). If you do go for an IBC as cheap as £15, it means you will have to clean it out yourself or pay to have it done professionally which isn’t cheap. 

After having a long discussion between ourselves and talking to many other allotment owners, we came to the decision of going for an IBC over the overflow system. Yes they aren’t cheap to buy but if you are lucky enough you might find one close to your allotment on eBay, Gumtree or even Facebook. We haven’t been this lucky unfortunately, all we seem to find is one for cheap but it is far away from where we live and as we don’t drive it is impossible to collect. Luckily enough tho I have found a company located not that far from where I live that sells used IBC’s professionally cleaned for only £60 per container, that is a steal compared to the others I could find and if I can find a man with a van to collect it means I don’t have to pay delivery. The company is called toucan environmental based in Kingswood in Bristol, they deliver all over the UK for £45 delivery charge (which I am trying to avoid by collecting in person). Here is a link to their site if you would like to take a look yourself,

Basic layout of the allotment when we first got it.

From the image above you can see the basic layout of the plot in its current state, this is the arrangement of the plot when I first got my hands on the plot. The orientation of the plot compared to the way the sun travels over means that the shed is in completely the wrong location to me, it should be down in the bottom left corner and the greenhouse should be where the shed is. This way the plot is more open to sun throughout more of the day and won’t be shadowed as much as before, I also need to remove some of the branches off the tress out the back of the plot. They over shadow the plot during some points off the day which means they need to be trimmed a little, unfortunately they do not belong to me and are technically on national railway land which could be a problem. I don’t want to get in trouble for going on to their land as that’s a £1000 fine (which I don’t have) but I need them to be trimmed a little, so watch this space to see if we can work anything out.

The plot needs a lot of work to get it to how we would like it to be and in doing so we have set ourselves out a big challenge to get it to how we would like it, the plan you see below is what we have come up with.

Our allotment plan.

It isn’t the most complicated of plans but there was a more adventurous one in the works, it was one in which we hid and IBC under the shed. Yes I did say under the shed, it would involve digging a hole big enough to sink the IBC into the ground and run all the pipe work needed to get the rain water down into the IBC. Then there would be needed space for the pipe work and pump to get the water back up the surface, then have a floor placed over it strong enough to hold the shed and all its contents above it. Yes it would have freed up more space on the plot for raised beds or fruit tress but it would have been so much work involved in digging the hole and running the pipes, so we decided together to put the IBC to the side of the shed instead of underneath it. Maybe in a few years when we are more established on the plot, we might look into it again or maybe just leave it how it is. Time will tell in this circumstance.

Anyways back to the plan above, as you can see I have moved the shed and greenhouse like previously mentioned. Then we have placed an IBC to the side of the shed and one behind the greenhouse (if we decide to go for two over IBCs over one), our the front of the shed I will make a patio area so when Dawn goes up the plot in the day she has someone safe to sit with our newly acquired camping chairs. Running off from the patio area there will be a path running up to the back of the plot going in front of the greenhouse, then splitting off between the raised beds and splitting off to the composting bin at the back of the plot. We are planning to have three composting. Bins in the plot in total, one for making leave mulch and the other two for normal composting.

It will probably take many years to get the plot to how we have it planned, it will be a slow process as it is a very dramatic change from the its original state. 

This is the end of this post which means we are now up to date with the blog posts and all blog posts from now on will be weekly, informing you all about our highs & lows on the plot. So keep checking back or even subscribe to the blog if you would like (there is no obligation to)

Michael & Dawn

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