A Listen to this page
Home > Resident > Allotments > Allotment FAQs

Allotment FAQs

Before taking on an allotment, or even if you are just interested in finding out more about having an allotment plot, take a few minutes to read these FAQ’s. They may help to answer a question you have. If you would like to speak to us directly, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Growing your own food can be rewarding in lots of ways – watching the seeds grow through its many stages and ending up as fresh produce on the table is a very satisfying feeling. In addition, you can be confident that your food hasn’t chalked up any air miles and is exactly what you want to eat. You will also discover new recipes as you work out what to with your pounds of potatoes! If that’s not enough, an allotment will keep you fit – for a lot less money than joining a gym – good for both your physical and mental health.

Challenge 1 

The plot you take on may not have been well cultivated by the previous tenant or may have been vacant for long period of time. You will need to put in some hard work to get the plot into a good condition for planting. You might find that the plot needs plenty of digging to loosen it up to enable you to fork in compost or manure. Think about your level of fitness and how much you can manage, dig a bit at a time if you are not used to it and consider using weed suppressants to help manage the sections as they are successfully cleared.

Challenge 2 – Keeping the weeds at bay

You will be required to keep your plot tidy and weed free and you will need to decide how to manage the weeds. Weeds are persistent so you will need to make regular visits to the plot to keep them at bay, especially during the growing season.

Challenge 3 – Time management

Allotments need regular visits. It is recommended to visit at least twice a week to keep on top of weeding and in hot weather, you might need to water your crops every day. Have a think about how you would realistically fit this into your routine.

Challenge 4 – Tools and equipment

You will need a certain amount of tools to tend your plot but the basics don’t need to cost a fortune, consider buying second hand.

We strongly advise that you do not keep tools or anything of value on the plot. You may also want to check if your household insurance will cover your tools on the plot in the event of theft or damage.

Challenge 5 – How to choose what to plant, where to plant it?

Deciding what to plant and where to plant it can be quite daunting. Do you want to consider companion planting or rotating crops on the plot? What is the soil quality on the plot? Does it suffer from exposure to the wind or is it covered in shade?

There are many books/ websites about allotments with information available. Don’t be shy to ask your neighbouring tenants for their advice. Many of them are happy to pass on a tip or two; you could also join one of the Allotment Associations which has a wealth of information.

The first year on the plot may not provide large quantities of produce as you may find your plot needs a lot of planning and preparation. As time goes on you will learn more about what grows well, where it goes, how much watering, fertiliser or mulching is needed and so on. 

Taking on an allotment plot will require you to work hard – particularly in the early stages as you get the plot established. Also, the time needed depends on the size of the plot and how intensively you want to garden. 

When starting out, it is probably best to establish about a third of the plot. This allows you to see some progress and start growing things relatively quickly. If the remaining area is covered with black plastic sheeting (not old carpets or any other materials) this will reduce the weed growth and reduce the work needed to be done later.

We have a duty to ensure the city’s allotment plots are put to good use. This ensures that all available allotments are kept in good condition but also, because neighbouring plots can be affected by weeds spreading from neglected plots.

Plots are inspected regularly and any that are not being cultivated will be sent a letter requesting plots to be returned to cultivation within a certain timescale or the council will take the plot back and re-let it.

Allotment sizes range from 51 sq yds to 100 sq yds.

We maintain the main tracks on the site. The smaller grass paths between the plots (either side of the plot) are the responsibility of the plot holders on either side of it to maintain.

Paths must be kept clear for access at all times, so plot holders should create safety hazards for others by littering paths with various items. If the path is grass, it must be regularly mown. This access path should be approx. 50cm in width.

Further details of the different allotment associations can be found under allotment associations.

Yes. However, depending on your proximity to the city, we may agree for the restrictions to be relaxed and to allow a plot to be taken on. For instance, if you live on the North Hykeham/ City of Lincoln boundary, we may agree to a plot being allowed to be taken on. If you live in Branston/Bracebridge Heath area, we will allow you to take a plot on the Canwick Hill site only.

In the majority of cases, allotment tenants on our sites are city residents, however, a small proportion of tenants live outside the city boundary. These tenants will have taken on their existing plots for many years before the commencement of the current policy.

The Portfolio Holder has agreed that such tenants can retain their existing plots.

All sites are fully accessible although some have restricted access for cars for people with a disability or who are wheelchair users. Please contact the Allotment Officer to discuss your needs in relation to a site.

The annual rent depends upon the size of the plot. The charge is made up of a sum for the size of the plot and water charge. Prices for the current year can be found on the paying for your allotment page.

Yes, dogs are allowed on allotment sites but they must remain on your plot at all times and must not be allowed to wander. If your dog is not properly controlled whilst on an allotment site you will be asked to refrain from bringing it with you.

As with all open spaces/public highway, you must always clean up after your dog.

Depending on which site you are interested in, and when you apply, you may not have to wait at all. It is impossible to give accurate waiting times because they depend on the rate of turnover at site or sites you applied for.

If you go along to the site then you can ask someone to let you in so you can see the plots offered. Just take the letter from us with you. The weekend is usually a good time to visit. It is always advised to visit the site and see the plots before you sign the tenancy agreement so you can see exactly where it is and what condition it is in. If you have any difficulty gaining access to the site, please contact us for assistance.

The offer letter should tell you how to accept the offer of a plot. If we don’t hear from you within 14 days of sending the offer letter, we will assume you are not interested in having an allotment any more. If this happens, we offer the plot to next person on the waiting list and your details will be removed from the waiting list.

If you accidentally missed the deadline, please call the allotments office as soon as possible and we will put you back on the waiting list for the next available plot.

Yes. If you do not want the plot offered then please call our office and we will put you back on the waiting list. You can be offered a plot a maximum of three times. If a plot is not taken after three different offers, you will be removed from the waiting list.

If no response is received, we will assume that you are no longer interested in having an allotment and will remove your details from the waiting list.

Unfortunately, we are not able to help with the clearance and preparation of the plot. In the unlikely event of fly-tipping, we may be able to assist with its removal.

Before you get started have a good look through the tenancy paperwork. Make sure you are aware of and understand all the conditions you need to be aware of. This includes information about whether you can keep livestock on the plot, the rules about sheds and many other issues.

There is also plenty of information available in books which you can buy or borrow from your local library. If you have access to the internet, there also many websites which can advise you on ‘how to grow your own veg’.

Don’t forget that there are often very experienced gardeners on the site who are usually only too keen to pass on advice and tips to new starters. Asking for help will also help introduce you to a new circle of friends with whom you can the social side of gardening too.

Here are a few ideas which will help you make the quickest and most successful start to using your new allotment:

  • Don’t rush in and try to do too much digging too quickly; split up the plot and prepare a small area to start with. Try to cover unused areas with membrane sheeting to reduce weed re-growth.
  • Start your ground preparation in autumn – aim to complete all your digging before the end of the year.
  • Try to remove perennial weeds (any plant with an indefinite life span of more than two years. Some may be quite short-lived, whereas trees can easily survive for centuries) as a complete plan; if possible, try not to break their roots, as leaving pieces in the ground will cause them to re-grow, sometimes more vigorously than before.
  • Start a compost heap.
  • Do not sow seeds too early; allow time for the ground to dry out and warm up in spring.
  • Water newly planted seedlings regularly and try to collect as much rainwater as you can as it’s good for the plants and the environment.
  • Put mulch down on bare soil, it will help to slow the growth of weeds and improve water retention.
  • If there’s an allotment association, it’s well worth joining.

On the whole this is completely up to you. Try visiting the site and having a look around at how others have laid out their plots. If you see one you like, ask the tenant how they started and what they did. You never know, they may even come over and give you a helping hand.

The most important rule for new tenants is the 75 per cent cultivation rule. You will be expected to cultivate 75 per cent of the area of your plot – either for vegetables, fruit or flowers. The cultivated area can include any polytunnels/ greenhouses or composting areas.

This leaves 25 per cent for a shed and leisure area. A narrow access path of 50 centimetres minimum is required to run the full length of the plot on either side of the plot.

The plot should be clearly marked with the plot number, as stated on the tenancy agreement. This must be clearly visible from the main access track.

We give every new tenant an initial three month probationary period during which we would hope to see some evidence that gardening has started on the plot.

As long as we see that you are making an effort to use and maintain the plot, you should have nothing to worry about. We would like tenants to aim for approx. 25 percent of the plot to be in use.

If, after three months, there is little evidence of progress, we will contact you to find out whats happening. Please be aware this places the tenancy of the plot at risk of being terminated and the plot being re-let.

This is a matter of personal choice. Many gardeners these days are trying to garden organically without having to revert to the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. None of our current allotment sites can be considered to be wholly organic as previous tenants will, in all likelihood, have used chemicals from time to time.

If you can't find what you're looking for visit our contact us page for a number of options which may help.