There are lots of different elements that go into making a great allotment plot – from good site access and soil quality, to sunlight and pest control. But have you ever thought out the importance of a shed?
We had the pleasure of speaking to Gill Dallow from Little Moor Allotments in West Jesmond/Gosforth about her love of allotments, and winning ‘Best Shed’ in the Newcastle Allotment and Garden Show 2022.
When did you first become interested in allotments?
Until we moved to Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1990s, I’d always had a garden to care for and enjoy. Our Victorian terrace only has a small space at the rear, but Little Moor Allotments is just across the road. Fortunately there was no waiting list in those days so I was out there digging and planting within months of moving in.
What do you enjoy most about having an allotment?
My allotment gives me the opportunity to be outside and purposefully active. I thoroughly enjoy the harvesting – and the grower’s perks of tasting a few extras straight from the plants – as well as the planning each year as to what to put where and the unexpected successes. No two years are the same, particularly the weather, so there is always something different to work with or around.
Tell us more about your award-winning shed.
My shed was second hand, bought from a plot holder who was leaving, and with the help of four strong men, it was ‘barrowed’ – still erected – from one end of the site to the other!
I first planted a thornless blackberry to grow round it and soon after a variegated ivy arrived – presumably donated by a bird! The two happily coexisted for many years but now the ivy has definitely taken over. The rose was one that had outgrown its space in our back yard and now fills a side wall, and birds – usually hedge sparrows – nest in the ivy. The roof had to be recovered a couple of times, and it was treated to a rubber membrane rather than felt at a cost higher than I’d originally paid for the shed. But it is definitely worth it.
Here’s what the Newcastle Allotment and Garden Show judges had to say about Gill’s award winning shed: “There’s a real sense of history and ownership with this shed; with beautiful coverage of ivy and roses, and a seating area outside next to pond. Yet at the same time, the owner still had ideas for how they wished to improve the area with more wildflowers and a water collection system.”
What does it mean to be named ‘Best Shed’ at the Newcastle Allotment and Garden Show?
It makes me smile to think that my shed has been named ‘Best Shed’ as really it has just ‘happened’. Many plot holders say how much they like the look of it, but all I do is trim back the ivy a couple of times a year – partly to stop it taking over the inside of the shed as well!
There is a bench on the west side so it gives me good shelter from east winds and I can enjoy some great sunsets in the summer.
Tell us something people might not know about managing an allotment.
Allotments take quite a bit of planning and before I took mine on I’d had years of experience gardening in different parts of the country, so I had a good idea of what I wanted to grow. You need to be realistic about how much time you can put into your allotment so you can enjoy it – it shouldn’t be a chore.
Soft fruit give excellent returns, especially bushes. Once planted they only need pruning yearly, so then you’ve time to concentrate on the remaining area of your plot.
What’s your favourite thing about Little Moor Allotments?
Similar to on any allotment site, there is almost as much growth in the well being of the plot holders on Little Moor, as in the plants themselves.
We are a very welcoming community and once you turn your key in the gate, Little Moor is an oasis, a place to relax and recharge. And if you really need to shout at anyone – the pigeons will do. They won’t take it to heart and they’ll be back as soon as you’ve gone! Or you can enjoy all the wildlife there and that is even better.
Urban Green Newcastle manages more than 60 allotment sites across Newcastle upon Tyne. Find out more here.