Allotment Gardening Advice Help Chat

Chatting => Chatting on the Plot => Topic started by: Offwego on December 29, 2017, 18:00

Title: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Offwego on December 29, 2017, 18:00
3 newbies from our site gave up recently after only one year, with one couple stating that overall  it cost more than they grew, all tools were supplied by the society so the only cost they incurred as far as i know was seeds/plants and rent( the rent was 17 for a half plot), just wondered how many plotholders  across the country actually last more than the first year or two?
luckily for us its not about the cost, the produce is far better, the satisfaction levels are great and we even enjoy the digging and weeding !
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: mumofstig on December 29, 2017, 18:17
We had some young men take on a plot, hired a rotovator for 2 weekends running to 'clear it' planted it up with plug plants from been & queued and were never seen again. Plot is now covered with weeds, and the remains of unharvested veg and will probably get a warning letter next month after inspections before Christmas.. What was the point?
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Yorkie on December 29, 2017, 18:47
From my experience as a site secretary, it's probably about 20-25% that don't make it beyond the first year or so.  This will be for a number of reasons, including life commitments (when you've been on a list for a year or 3, your life has moved on by the time you're offered a plot), and unrealistic expectations of how much effort is required to get / keep on top of a plot that may be in relatively poor condition when you take it up (even though we warn them about this and advise on ways to ensure it doesn't get on top of you when letting the plot).
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Dev on December 29, 2017, 19:22
I think Yorkie is right. My plot is on a private site near Hull, and most of the plots are gardened by regulars who have been there for years. The committee recognised the problem and reduced the size of plots to about one third of the old style allotments with a requirement that 75% of the plot should be cultivated within a year.  However, there are a number of plots that come up each year because people love the idea of growing your own with no chemicals etc., and see the media showing lovely veg. What they don't understand is the effort you have to put in to achieve the lovely veg!. Anyone who thinks that growing veg on an allotment is a cost effective exercise is kidding themselves. I've run out of my own onions and just bought 2lbs of Morrisons Wonky Onions for 42p - but I'd still rather grow my own. Obviously more of them next year!
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: JimB on December 29, 2017, 19:49
.
Our allotments about 40 plots, are owned by the local landowner, and they don't give a fig!

About half are well cultivated mostly by older men, the rest are a disgrace, with pilgrims coming and going every time the leases are up.

Most of them are young males with a wife in tow, sprouting i'm organic i'm not going to feed my family chemicals, the worst part is some of the older men try to help them but get brushed off by the usual platitudes of having listened to often to Monty Don and his team of about 10 helpers!

They potter about for a couple of weekends, usually Easter time then they give up and are never seen again.
Then the weeds,especially thistles and fire weed grow to waist high and seed which blow over the other plots.

Last year on mine apart from the chickweed which is always with me, I had loads of thistles and fire weed seedlings from seed  which had blown in!
One of the older men keeps going to the estate office to complain, the answer is they have paid so they can do what they want, he keeps trying to get somewhere to no avail!
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: sunshineband on December 29, 2017, 20:12
Sad to say I think TV gardening programme presenters rarely give a realistic view of the amount of physical work and time that GYO actually takes.

We have several plots where occupants have gone at things like a train, only to realise they cannot find the time to keep on top of weeds or even harvest anything that does make it up to daylight.

And as for the costs, I was shocked when I kept a careful note of all our outgoings including rent, some wood for bed edges that needed repair, etc etc, weighed all harvests and wrote down the supermarket price (not the organic farm shop price which would really have been more akin to our crops) for said veg or fruit.... and at the end of the year we were 800 "in profit". Obviously I would never have bought 30kg of runner beans, but I would have certainly bought some veg or other.  So if people say it is not worth growing your own food as it is so cheap to buy.... not round here! No cost for time out side in the fresh air and good healthy exercise either  :D
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Yorkie on December 29, 2017, 20:23
Sad to say I think TV gardening programme presenters rarely give a realistic view of the amount of physical work and time that GYO actually takes.

We have several plots where occupants have gone at things like a train, only to realise they cannot find the time to keep on top of weeds or even harvest anything that does make it up to daylight.


I agree with you - people see the TV programmes, where allotment plots are in good condition at the start and appear effortless!
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: greenjay on December 29, 2017, 20:55
I think that people may like the idea of gyo but until they have a go they don't realise the time involved.
often when you come home from work and have to prepare tea, its much easier to open the fridge and get the supermarket bag of veg out than to go to the veg plot to harvest then bring back and prepare.

I always find something to distract me when on the plot and half an hour soon disappears. for me that's not a problem in the summer because we often eat late. a bit of meal planning means one days harvest can cover a few meals.

gardening for me is a passion. when it becomes a chore it may well have to go. not any time soon hopefully as long as i'm well gardening i'll be.
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: madcat on December 29, 2017, 20:58
They also think the kids are going to be a help ....  when the reality is it takes time and patience to stop them being a hindrance.  Single women and older men are the most likely stayers.  Young families just don't have the time or energy, which I can well understand.
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: ididntdoit on December 29, 2017, 23:10
I  heartily agree with the comments above but want to add that some of the younger ones stick the distance.

What irritates me on our allotments is that people are willing to pay the rent several years in succession but never cultivate their allotments. Weeds all over their allotments and also spread onto the cultivated ones.

One well meaning guy on our allotments strimmed his next door neighbour's allotment to reduce the weed problem. Wow! What a mistake that was! The "said" allotment is now back to three foot high weeds with no possible course of sensible action.

So even if there is no waiting list, if you can't maintain your allotment, please, please give it up. The other plot holders will be more than happy to cut the down the weeds.
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Aidy on December 29, 2017, 23:10
Wow Yorkie 20-25%  :ohmy: you are doing well!
As our fed rep for many a year one of my duties was to organise plot letting and I would say here we have about 70-80% give up and last year we took on 4 new tenants, all 4 have left!
Talking to them half way through you can tell even tho we warned them what to expect they are still suprised just how much time ans effort needs to be put in
 
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Plot 1 Problems on December 29, 2017, 23:41
We're lucky on our site, it's small but fully occupied. We had two leavers this year, one who had work commitments in the way and another newbie who ran at the first sign of clay.

Can't understand it myself, I inherited a dog's bum of a plot and I've still managed to grow some decent crops.
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Pescador on December 30, 2017, 09:23
Sunshineband, Totally agree, my costings v value produced show a "profit" of 650 this year.
If one was to include a labour charge, however, the costs would be totally different, but no one adds labour costs to their shopping trips!
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: ApprenticeGardener82 on December 30, 2017, 09:37
Well I survived my first year and am still loving it. Unfortunately 2 of my neighbours were rarely seen over the summer, judging from the state of their plots they might not be with us next year. Shame as some of the old chaps with a little more time on their hands were helping them get the plots under control.
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: sunshineband on December 30, 2017, 10:13
Sunshineband, Totally agree, my costings v value produced show a "profit" of 650 this year.

Well done Aidy! It gives an extra enjoyment that we are saving money as well as gaining better health.

We had to give our plot up as the balance between enjoyment with the children over work needed was all wrong, plus we moved house and had a longer walk to the plot as well.

Now, our grandchildren love coming with us, and grow veg in their own garden too. Th biggest difference is that they don't have to come with us every time we go, so is stays fun
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: bayleaf on December 30, 2017, 12:14
As some who waited ages for a plot I am definitely carrying on after this my first year. Still not got on top of my plot but as Jean (one of the older allotment holders) likes to say: "Rome wasn't built in a day!" Where I feel sad is when someone has had to give up due to ill health. That has happened for two of our plot holders this year, such a shame after they have been on their plots for so long. Trouble is it takes no time for the weeds to overtake all their efforts.
 How many hours a week do you think it needs to keep on top of a normal sized allotment once you have got on top of it? I read in a book by Joy Larkcom over Christmas that she reckons 4 hours a week as a bare minimum and she thought probably 8 hours a week is more realistic. I would be interested to know how many hours people think it takes. And that's when you are on top of it. I think it takes a lot more than that initially when you take over a jungle of weeds.  Life gets in the way sometimes - a good friend of mine died of cancer and with the visiting him regularly the plot suffered in the summer. And then some local yuff decided to burn down my neighbour's shed and that destroyed the greenhouse I had inherited. It's been an interesting year all in all!! Hopefully I will get on top of everything this year :lol:
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: ApprenticeGardener82 on December 30, 2017, 12:27
read in a book by Joy Larkcom over Christmas that she reckons 4 hours a week as a bare minimum and she thought probably 8 hours a week is more realistic. I would be interested to know how many hours people think it takes.

As a newbe that knows nothing, my 1/3 of a plot (Portsmouth city council only gives out small plots now it seems) I spent 2 hrs a week, that was enough to keep on top of the weeds. The old boys take the mick a bit that I don't have any weeds and it's super "neat" lol
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Mr Dog on December 30, 2017, 14:02
I was one of 7 who became new plot holders in September 2013. There are now 4 of us left - 2 dig and weed at the start of the year but grow nothing and a third now has 2 plots but only uses them for growing weeds and keeping hens and ducks (he gets a warning letter after every inspection, simply cuts the weeds down and then waits for the next one) - with the other 3 giving up after a year or less. Plenty of others have come and gone since then too. There are also quite few long term plot holders who either grow nothing or don't harvest what they do grow and end up digging it all up and composting the following spring. I'm sure there must be a logical reason but it has always escaped me why anyone would pay 50-70 a year for the privilege of doing that  ??? The site secretary tries to get those who do care for their plots to move down to the 'better' end of the site (clay's a bit deeper down, much less prone to winter flooding, there's fewer weeds about and, as yet, the marestail hasn't reached there) as and when plots become available.
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: New shoot on December 30, 2017, 15:45
The old boys take the mick a bit that I don't have any weeds and it's super "neat" lol

That's the old boys saying you are doing well and they approve  :lol:  They always wrap praise in jokey banter or in between telling you about all the things you are doing wrong  ;)

I have what counts as a full plot on my site, but it is split into 2 pieces in different areas.  When you are clearing a plot, it takes as many hours as you have.  Now it gets what it gets depending on work, weather and wot not.  Some is laid out to fruit and mulched heavily to keep the weeds down.  I also grow squash, potatoes and other 'big stuff' that does some work for me keeping weeds at bay.  I reckon Joy wasn't far wrong with 4 hours as a minimum but ideally double that over the main growing season.

Mine are far from super neat, but I get loads of crops and I applaud anyone that can manage weedlessness  :D
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Aidy on December 30, 2017, 16:21
Sunshineband, Totally agree, my costings v value produced show a "profit" of 650 this year.

Well done Aidy! It gives an extra enjoyment that we are saving money as well as gaining better health.

We had to give our plot up as the balance between enjoyment with the children over work needed was all wrong, plus we moved house and had a longer walk to the plot as well.

Now, our grandchildren love coming with us, and grow veg in their own garden too. Th biggest difference is that they don't have to come with us every time we go, so is stays fun
Eh????
Did I say that wi owt moving me lips  :lol: :lol: :lol:
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: ARPoet on December 30, 2017, 17:29
When we took on a slopping overgrown plot with a falling down shed, i made a spreadsheet of outgoings and harvests taken home at shop prices.
Everything we paid for, including petrol to fetch manure, etc and take pick up and take my pal home, was itemised.
It took 18 months to break into profit. We had it 5 years until family problems forced us to give it up.
We had a right laugh during those 5 years and we left the soil in much better condition than we found it.
But, since we gave it up 5 years ago our old plot has had 4 tenants who all set off like a clockwork toy and soon tailed off.


Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: rowlandwells on December 31, 2017, 10:39
its a real shame to see allotments going  back to nature and from your replies its general is it because of other commitments not enough time  inexperience in gardening or just can't be bothered I think when people watch Monty on gardeners world it looks so easy which is I'm afraid is  a misconception of gardening because as gardeners we all know it can be very labour intensive

I think most of my fellow gardeners are retired but  there are several women gardeners on the allotments that do a good job growing veg

you would have thought being a village with only a small amount of allotments there would be a waiting list but I counted 5 plots not cultivated this year some started some not the plot next to me was vacant for some time and then it was taken on sprayed ploughed rotovated and planted things where happening so I thought then they stopped coming and it quickly went  back to nature

years ago we had far more allotments and a waiting list as long as your arm and they where all done but as the allotments where unattended they where sold of for development we also had what we call roadside gardens pieces of ground next to the road that where free to those who cultivated them those to where all gardened how times change in those days people relied on there allotments to feed there families with fresh veg on the table no supermarkets in those days and you where expected to help your dad on the plot before going out to play if you wanted your belly filled  :D

that's the past as they say the present day gardening seems to be more on raised beds and poly tunnels
its what I call the modern take on gardening is it better than the old fashioned way don't know will the allotment ever get back to a waiting list only time will tell I suppose as long as there's  retired people wanting to grow fresh veg or spend time on the allotment plot then we can keep allotments going as it would be a real shame to see allotments disappear to modern development

my allotments are  part of my way of life I cal it garden therapy and I wouldn't give that up unless circumstances forced me well motorists would certainly miss me trailing behind me on my 1954 ferguson tractor doing 5MPH  going to the allotments because many of those know me they always put two finger up when they eventually manage to pass me happy gardening for 2018  :D :D :D



Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: al78 on January 01, 2018, 00:35
Sunshineband, Totally agree, my costings v value produced show a "profit" of 650 this year.
If one was to include a labour charge, however, the costs would be totally different, but no one adds labour costs to their shopping trips!

The labour of shopping in a supermarket is a lot less than growing your own veg*, but the extra time taken growing your own keeps you fit so you don't need to pay for a monthly gym membership.

*unless your supermarket is full of people that go fiddle faff fiddle faff fiddle fiddle fiddle where-did-I-put-it when asked to pay for their shopping, despite having just stood idle in the queue for 10 minutes.  :lol:
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: robinahood on January 01, 2018, 06:57
I've had my plot since March,  its bigger than average with a full hedge to maintain and so much rubbish buried we still have a way to go with clearing it.  I absolutely love it and wish I didn't have to  work so I could be there more. It most certainly has been hard work, but I am lucky as my hubby has helped massively.
For me it is mental and physical therapy, but If anyone took on an allotment without any gardening knowledge I can see how they mighty become demoralised!  As we all know, with growing you are playing the long game, not much instant gratification!
Title: Re: how many give up after first year?
Post by: Yorkshire Lass on January 07, 2018, 11:14
I have had my half plot for 3 years now, I agree the first year was a nightmare I had a difficult plot to clear, but still managed to get some crops, however in the 2nd year things were getting easier as I became more organised.

Fast forward to 2017 and "life" just got in the way I found it really hard to tend my plot and sit my bookkeeping exams, however thanks to the support of my chap we still enjoyed some homegrown fruit & veggies.  Roll on 2018, I still have more exams to sit but still plan on keeping my little plot, I have just had to downscale my plans and plant a smaller variety of fruit and veg, but bring on the challenge I say as I love being outdoors and even smaller harvests are better than none!!