You might be lucky to be given a plot in good condition - like your plots on the Veg Course - but you are more likely to be faced with an overgrown weedy plot as most summer-vacated plots are due to the termination of a tenancy.

Priority 1 - if you have an overgrown plot, aim to clear the plot of weeds during 2024 so that you can start the 2025 season with a similar starting point to the Veg Course plots. 

Priority 2 - feed the soil. An annual load of muck (£35) from Bruce is ideal for a half plot.  This should be supplemented with your own compost; we will do a lesson on making compost.

Costs - There are costs of rental and plot deposit.  The cheapest way to get weed free and fertile is to use cardboard and muck but there are other techniques to starve the weeds of light - plastic sheets and weed membrane - but they do have quite a cost unless you can reuse old stuff. 

Design - We use 1.2m wide beds and 0.6m wide paths.  It is a tried and tested design which will allow for both long rows of fruit bushes, rhubarb, etc. and shorter rows of veg. You may prefer to let your creativity take over.

Please read the three website articles on renovation.  The Saveur article on renovation of a London allotment is excellent but the author uses bags of bought compost - he must have deep pockets!  The other two articles show what we did in renovating plots 162 and 251.  Our preferred method is muck over cardboard unless you can get hold of pre-loved plastic sheets or weed membrane. Never put any organic matter - muck/compost - over plastic or weed membrane. Always put organic matter over cardboard.

Charles Dowding has a wealth of information on his website ( and also his Youtube videos such as ... Beginner's Guide to No-Dig Gardening with Cardboard and Compost.  With reference to this video, we don't use any type of carpet as it is against the allotment rules. You put muck from Bruce on 251 in our first session and planted your runner beans, courgettes and squash in May.  It is several years old when delivered - not fresh! - and your crops are testament to its effectiveness. For plot 162 we store the muck for a year before applying it in the Autumn - a job to look forward to.  This works even for crops like carrots and parsnips where we sow small seeds directly.