Where are the allotments in Balsham?
There are three allotment sites. Our largest with 61 plots is just off Woodhall Lane near the scout hut, 22 at the Princes Close site and 25 at The Hawthorns site.
How much does an allotment cost?
The cost an allotment depends if you are a Balsham resident or not as well as the size of the plot. Allotments are measure in rods. Our allotments are 10 rods (250sqm) or 5 rods.
How much is the deposit and why do I have to pay it?
The Parish Council now ask for all new tenants for a £50 deposit payable by cash or an open dated cheque made out the Balsham Parish Council. This deposit is held and only used if you walk away/leave your allotment needing a lot of work before re-letting again. It costs the Parish Council a lot money to fix these abandoned allotments.
How do I apply for an allotment?
To apply for an allotment, please email the site manager on balshamallotments@gmail with your name, address and phone number. They will make contact you to discuss further. It may be there will not be available allotments so you will be added to the waiting list.
How long will I have to wait if I am added to a waiting list?
As of August 2021, it will be a short wait, anything up to one month or two. It also depends on which site you prefer to have an allotment garden.
What happens when an allotment becomes available?
The site manager will make contact with you and arrange for a time to meet with you and show the available allotment. Once you have agreed on an allotment, the site manager will send you a tenancy agreement for you to sign. Please sign both copies and return one along with the £50 deposit and any rent due. Once received, the allotment will be released to you.
When are the rent renewals due?
Annual rents and water charges are due 30th September each year. You will be sent a reminder at the beginning of September. Payment by direct debit is preferred. Cash and cheques are accepted. Cheques are to be made out to Balsham Parish Council.
When I take on a new tenancy, what state will the allotment be in?
It is highly likely that any released allotments will require a lot of time commitment to put it back into a good working order ready for you to start growing on it. Be prepared to put in some hours and weekends. It is recommended that you break down the tasks so not to burn out. Although you may be lucky and be offered a well looked after allotment.
What advice can you give if my new allotment is full of weeds?
Before you start growing or putting down any raised beds, ground cover such as weed matting or cardboard, you should remove all tap rooted weeds (perennial weeds such as couch grass, horsetail and field bind wind). If they are not removed, they only grow again within weeks making it more difficult and demoralising. These weeds will grow through anything if given the chance.
Invest time before you start growing!
As a beginner, how much time should I be prepared to dedicate to keep my allotment thriving?
There are no hard or fast rules, spend as much time there as possible. It is difficult to put a time limit on it as it depends on the state of the allotment, the plot size and the season/weather. If your allotment needs a lot of work doing to it initially, you will need to commit some time. However, I would be careful not to over do it so break into into small chunks of say two to three hours per day or every other day.
After the initial hard work:
- autumn: spent digging leaving the clods to over winter and manuring Break this task down to make it more manageable so possibly two hours a day, depending on your fitness levels
- winter: can be spent clearing and getting ready for the next growing season so possibly an hour or so once a fornight
- spring: is the busiest time as beds need preparing ready for sowing
- summer: is maintenance with keeping weeds at bay and watering if extremely dry
Ideally, allocate at least three to four hours per week.
Is there any particular equipment which is necessary for a beginner’s allotment?
As a beginner, it is recommended that you have:
- a spade and a fork for any weeding and working the soil
- a pair of secateurs
- a rake for getting a fine tilth for seed sowing
- a hand trowel for keep weeds at bay
- a shed to house this equipment and to collect rain water
- a water butt or two connected to the shed to store the rain water
Be safe when using equipment and your tetanus is up to date and wear strong footwear when working the soil.
What is the soil type here in Balsham?
The land is quite heavy and is generally clay and not acidic. However, to be sure, you can purchase a cheap PH soil tester. The heavy clay can make initial work tough but once manure has been applied regularly, it will be easier to manage.
What plants do you recommend to grow as a beginner?
Simple, grow what you want to eat. Tomatoes, potatoes, runner beans, herbs, courgettes (be aware they are prolific and you will no doubt have a glut of them) and squashes are a good start. Although the later does require a bit of space to grow however, they do provide a lot of ground cover which can prevent weeds.
Talk to your allotment neighbour to find out what grows well. They may also have spare seedlings, raspberry canes or rhubarb and may be able to help you to identify any plants you do not know about.
Are there any restrictions on what I can grow on the allotment?
No, we are happy for you to grow whatever you like with the law, obviously. Please check with the site manager if you wish to plant a number of fruit trees. Non-fruiting trees are not permitted as with all trees, they take a lot of moisture of out the soil making it intolerable for favourable growing conditions.
You cannot keep any livestock on the allotment gardens.
What can be the personal benefits of owning an allotment?
Apart from the reward of growing your own produce, the satisfaction of eating and sharing your produce, having an allotment in your life can make it less stressful.
Owning an allotment also helps with mental and physical health. It also does great things for the brain too, providing a neutral space away from the demands of office and home. It’s impossible to feel miserable when you’re digging over the ground on a sunny weekend morning with a flask of tea.
The repetitive, slow tasks of preparing soil and sowing seeds are like a meditation, connecting you to the cycle of life and taking away stress.
Do I need permission to put up a shed, polytunnel or glasshouse?
Yes, you need to obtain permission from the Parish Council before erecting any structure. This is to ensure that any allotment garden isn’t overrun with buildings.
What facilities are there on the allotment sites?
There are two water standpipes at the Woodhall site and one at The Hawthorns.
Can I put up a fence around my allotment?
Can I encourage wildlife to my allotment?
Yes, we encourage biodiversity so a mix of flowers and vegetables are welcome. However, you cannot insert a pond as this is a health and safety issue.
Can I keep chickens or bees?
Sadly, no. Again it is a health and safety issue.
When can I have a bonfire?
Bonfires are permitted for garden waste only but only during the week with a northly wind blowing. No bonfires are allowed during the weekends or bank holiday weekends. Please do not leave your bonfire unattended.
Composting is highly recommended and preferred over burning.
We have a lot of complaints for residents about allotment bonfires as they tend to be quite smokey. Please be mindful and respectful of your residential neighbours.
What if I can not cope with my allotment?
Please contact us via email for whatever reason to discuss. It maybe we can split the plot to make it more manageable for you.
What if I am ill or have health issues and not able to look after my allotment?
If you are unable to find someone to help you in the short term, please contact us to discuss. If you do not let us know you are experiencing health issues, we do not know and it could put us in a very awkward position for having to write to you, upsetting you and making your situation worse. We will show leniency with your situation/circumstances.
Can I share my allotment?
Yes, you may share but their names must be register with the Parish Council. Underletting, assigning or subletting an allotment is not permitted without the written permission of the Parish Council.
Can I transfer my tenancy agreement to a family member?
Passing on an allotment to a friend or family member is not permitted without the prior consent of the Parish Council. Please do contact the site manager to discuss further.
Can an allotment be taken away?
Yes, if you fail to comply to the Tenancy Agreement:
iii. The Tenant shall keep the Allotment Garden clean, free from non biodegradable rubbish, in a healthy state of cultivation / fertility and in good condition.
You will received a letter from the Parish Council giving the tenant one month’s notice to rectify and failing that, the tenant will be given one month’s notice to clear and leave the allotment.
We hold regular inspections with an annual one just before the renewals are due in September.
You can view our Inspection policy.
Are there any tips?
Yes, there are plenty. Talk to your allotment neighbours as they are a plethora of knowledge. In the meantime, here are some basic tips. Firstly
- spend some time planning the layout of your new allotment incorporating perennial plants (asparagus, artichokes, rhubarb, raspberries), compost bins and a shed
- think about crop rotation and where you will plant your seedlings
- get to know the lay of the land (is it windy, sunny, north, south, east or west situation), your soil by checking its PH levels, what type it is (heavy clay in Balsham) how fertile it is, drainage and moisture content
- install a shed connected two a water butt or two or three to collect any winter/spring rains
- set up some compost bins
- for the first year, buy some small plants to get you going rather than raising from seed. You may still buy some plugs for overwintering if you take on a tenancy in the autumn
- several short visits to your allotment during the week allows you to spot problems straight away and is better than one long session where problems can get out of hand
- watch over your land/soil throughout the year to watch how it holds water
- There are lots of resources to research from You Tube, Instagram to books. Learn from the best such as Monty Don, Andi Clevely and Joe Swift.
- ENJOY YOUR NEW GREEN SPACE AND BE AT ONE WITH THE EARTH!
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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