How to organise your allotment – The fourth in The Allotment Series from the Two Thirsty Gardeners

If all has gone to plan on the plot – and providing the pigeons, rabbits and slugs haven’t beaten you to it – now is the time to reap the benefits from your season of labour. As the mellow days of autumn appear, there should be plenty of produce to harvest down on the allotment. Pumpkins and squashes will be ripening nicely, apples swelling to a rosy crescendo, and onions, potatoes and shallots gasping to be plucked, washed and plunged into the cooking pot.

In all the excitement of stuffing carrier bags full of bounteous, homegrown produce, it's easy to overlook the more mundane tasks of allotment management. Your allotment is probably looking a little shaggy round the edges, and your shed cluttered with pots and detritus caused by a season’s worth of heavy shedding, so here are some tasks you can perform to keep your allotment organised.

On the plot

Make the beds

When you’ve tugged the last of the season’s plants from their soily bed, give the area a thorough digging over, remove any emerging weeds, then cover with a weed inhibiting membrane, weighed down with a few hefty rocks. In spring, you’ll be able to peel back the covers to reveal a nice, weed-free planting area, ready to fill with lovely veg.

Short back and sides

Chances are your grassy areas will be looking particularly tatty at this time of year, so whizz over any green pathways with a grass trimmer. It’s surprising what a difference neatly cut edges can make to a scruffy allotment, so give any dishevelled borders a trim with a pair of border shears. If necessary, re-cut the border shapes using a traditional half-moon tool, or get motorised and invest in a petrol-driven edge cutter for a speedy makeover.

Spread the wood

Mulch around any perennial plants with wood chippings to help them stay snug over the coming winter months. Be generous with your mulching – spread it to a depth of four inches for maximum weed suppression.

Carry on composting

You’ll have plenty of spent vegetal matter to deal with, so get composting. For best results, mix your compost pile with an even mixture of green waste (grass clippings, vegetable peelings etc) and brown waste (sticks and cardboard) and give it a fork from time to time. A word of warning – rodents love to bed down in warm compost heaps, so it's worth investing in a plastic compost bin with a sealed base to stop them squatting within the confines of your steaming heap.

In the shed

Keep them clean, keep them keen

Scrub down any mud-caked tools with a stiff brush, and give wooden handles a rub with linseed oil to keep them in tip-top condition. Sharpen any slicing edges with a whetstone and oil, and lubricate joints with 3 in 1 oil to keep them rust-free. Use a nylon dish scourer and a dab of washing up liquid on tools that have become encrusted with sap – with a spot of vigorous scrubbing, they’ll polish up as good as new.

Allotment with weed membraneBe shelf-ish

Can’t move for clutter? Consider investing in a free-standing shelf unit. You’ll be surprised how much floor space you can claw back by stacking and racking your pots and garden nick-nacks. Go for a unit that offers height-adjustable shelves, and one that can support heavy weights. We store fermenting cider demijohns on our shelf units so, to cradle our precious liquid safely and securely, we invested in the brawniest shelves we could find.

Hang ‘em high

It might be an amusing comic aside in slapstick films, but standing on the wrong end of a rake is no joke. To prevent such wood/forehead interfaces, hang your long-handled tools from the shed roof. Drill holes through the rafters and feed stiff wire through them. Bend the wire into hook shapes to hoist your rakes and hoes out of harm's way.

Seedy business

Fixing the lid of a jam jar to the underside of a shelf before screwing the jar back on will provide a handy, mouse-proof receptacle for storing your precious plant seeds and free up valuable shelf space above.

Two Thirsty GardenersThe Two Thirsty Gardeners, Rich and Nick, are bloggers who love gardening, eating and drinking in equal measure! They love to share tales from their allotment including their experiments turning the spoils of their crops into alcohol, both the good and the bad!

To find out more about Rich and Nick, click here.

Welcome to the STIHL blog


Here you’ll be able to find useful seasonal advice from experts and guest writers, along with the latest news from the world of STIHL and the great outdoors.

In addition, we’ll keep you informed about our latest products and how to make the most of your tools – all so that you can make the most of your outdoor space.

More from the STIHL Blog

Light up your Christmas

December 20, 2018

If you love Christmas, then you’re sure to love indulging in a good festive light display, or getting into the spirit with a visit to Santa. In recent years, many gardens around the country have upped their festive game and... Read more →

An inspirational gold at Chelsea Flower Show with Hillier and STIHL

May 24, 2018

RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the place to be and be seen in May if you are a keen gardener. Even if you’re not very green-fingered, there is still plenty to inspire you with perfect plants and gorgeous gardens around... Read more →

The 2018 ARB Show, sponsored by STIHL

April 27, 2018

For the 14 th year running, STIHL will be sponsoring the ARB Show, and we can’t wait for the annual celebration of the science of trees. It’s the 20 th anniversary of the event and it looks set to be... Read more →

Simon O’Rourke and STIHL – The perfect wood carving partnership

February 27, 2018

We began working with expert chainsaw carver Simon O’Rourke in 2017 when he joined us at the Arb Show to do a wood carving demonstration. For us, he was an obvious choice for a partnership as he is the best... Read more →