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The Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening: Weather Wars

Welcome to part 2 of the ‘Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening: Weather Wars’, inspired by CCCU Edible Campus’s Allotment Blitz allotment events.

1- all year round

The weather can be a major battle when trying to grow the most perfect plants. Which is why we have compiled a guide of carefully selected tips on how to keep your plants thriving all year round. Now not even winter can ruin your allotment or garden.



Take advantage of the winter, when no plants are growing, to prepare for next year’s gardening season!

  • Clean up your tools; give them a good clean to remove dirt and rust.
  • Check fences, gates and other structures for weakness or rotting. Get them repaired!
  • Avoid using the lawn to give it a breather.
  • Start a compost heap.
  • Deadhead autumn flowering plants before the heavy frosts arrive.

2- winter 1


If the winter starts warm, then becomes abruptly freezing, cabbage– and similar- may not thrive as well as it should, or even survive. Dig a one ft square around the plant with your shovel, a spade depth down. In doing this, the roots that weaken the whole system will be chopped off, leaving the plant with enough strength to survive the harsh winter.
3- winter 2



A good way to decide whether or not to start sowing seeds is to press an elbow, finger or hand to the soil. If it’s very cold or wet, don’t sow!

4- spring 1


In the spring months, give your allotment a rough tidy up. Remove leaves, and other pesky debris, from boarders, lawns and ponds. Cut back the dead growth of wild flowers- unless you’re wildlife friendly, in which case delay the cut back until early spring.

5- spring 2


Spring is the perfect time to sow seeds that may need a longer season, such as Geraniums, Begonias, Peppers and Aubergine. Take a look at http://www.thompson-morgan.com/in-the-garden-this-month to see which month it is best to start growing different kinds of plant in.6- spring 3



During the warm summer months, a moat is the perfect way to channel water toward the root of a plant when it rains. Create the moats around each plant– so they are slightly larger than where the leaves reach out to.

7- summer 1


There are several ways to keep your plants alive and well over the sweltering summer months:

  • Water early in the day, preferably in the morning, to avoid mildew and other fungi attacks.
  • Add nutrients to water if you only water occasionally, preferably nutrients from a soluble fertiliser with added seaweed. For example:
    • Water in potash- for fruit trees, improving flavours and juiciness.
    • Potassium in potash- for avocados and mangos, to improve plant vigour and resistance to fungi.

Read http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/types-of-organic-fertilizer.htm for further advice on plant fertilisers.

8- summer 2

Edible Campus’s beautiful allotments at the Chaplaincy. Sourced from Edible Campus’s Facebook page.


Consider shade thoroughly. New plants are likely to need plenty of shade while hardening to the sun. Plan trees to protect your garden from the harsh Summer sun. Equally, you may want some plants, flowers or vegetables to be exposed to more light.

11- summer 3



Lift tender plants out of the bed before the first frost arrives! Tender plants are often perennial (meaning they only last one year). Tender plants include bananas, tree ferns, begonias and dahlias. Cut back the stems. Lift the tubers from the ground. Clean the soil from them, then carefully place and store them in trays of dry compost or sand, with only the tip of the crown visible. Keep in a cool, frost-free place over the winter.

9- autumn 1


They provide structure in your garden and will add interest to an otherwise empty plot in the winter months.

10- autumn 2

Now go ahead and perfect your incredible allotment, whatever the weather!

Need a recap on the basics of allotment gardening? Click here to visit our first ‘The Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening’ blog: Getting Started.

Liked this guide? Read more on futurelifehappiness.wordpress.com.

Have you seen our other guides?

  1. The SGO Quick Guide to Holiday Safety
  2. Do-It-Yourself Spa Day
  3. The Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening: Getting Started
  4. Holiday the Sustainable Way
  5. How to get a Good Night’s Sleep

Interested in writing blogs, creating recipe cards or writing reviews for Future.Life.Happiness? Email m.cork630@canterbury.ac.uk to let us know!


Meg & the SGO xxx

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The Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening: Getting Started

Writing to you exclusively from our office in Fleming building, CCCU campus, we at the SGO are passionate about helping you succeed to the best of your abilities in all sustainable matters. Whether it’s perfecting the perfect sustainable meal menu, or assisting you in promoting Fracking awareness, or working together on a water-use campaign, we are here to help you. Which is why we have released the Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening. This guide is for both beginners and advanced gardeners a-like. Whether you have an allotment already or if the idea is just a distant dream, we hope to give you helpful tips on making your allotment experience as successful and rewarding as possible.

So join us over the next few weeks as we release our four part series of the ‘Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening’, inspired by CCCU Edible Campus’s Allotment Blitz allotment events.

Why Garden?

Allotment gardening is increasing in popularity all over the UK. Allotments are a cheap and effective source of freshly grown fruit and veg, a good place to have a natter with neighbouring gardeners while you’re on a break, and a great source of physical activity. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

1- Why Garden


Getting Started

1) Basic Tools

The basic tools you’ll need are a fork, spade, seed rake, hoe and trowel. If you don’t already own one or don’t have much money, visit a car boot sale to find second hand tools.


2) Make an allotment plan

It might seem more exciting to dive in headfirst, but before properly working on your allotment, get to know your plot. Observe the path the sun takes across the sky to help with planting positions. Observe your plants as they grow to learn how long they take to grow and any problems that occur for future reference. In your plan, consider the time you will spend on your allotment. Every person and every allotment is different, but if you want to steadily improve your allotment, working on it for 4 to 5 hours a week means you will start noticing a substantial difference within your allotment very soon. If you enjoy it, spend more hours on it. Remember, picking crops can be time consuming. In the summer, visit your allotment for an hour or so each night. If you find it relaxing, it won’t seem like hard work!

2- Clearing Allotments

3) Clearing Allotments

Start clearing them slowly.  Start with a small, manageable size, perhaps inviting somebody else to join you. Dig carefully to remove perennial roots, multiple times with a couple of weeks’ gap between each dig to remove regrowth.


4) Start simple

Instead of diving head first into the deep end, start with easily manageable plants such as peas, sweet corn, radishes, beans and courgettes– rather than those cauliflowers and aubergines you are desperate to make.

4- Start Simple

5) Manure

Let’s think about manure. Manure is used to supply nutrients and add to biological activity of soil. Chicken manure provides the most nitrogen and phosphorous. Chicken manure is organic, however is not necessarily ecologically or economically friendly as the chickens may not be free-range.

You could make your own green crop manure. These will give you choice to choose crops for each job needed. Species belonging to pea/ clover family will improve soil fertility. Green manures will decompose after they have been dug in, improving drainage and root penetration.

Make sure your manure is organic, as it does not contain herbicide from an animal’s diet of treated food, however it is often pricy and hard to find. Sow soft compost straightaway. For other types, make your bed a month before bed making or you may discover slugs, weeds, clumps of soil and old compost.


6) Compost

Compost is a great fertilizer. It can enrich the soil with organic materials. When using it, mix it with the soil completely, as it provides oxygenation. Firstly, decide why you need a compost bin– for a type of compost, or for compost turning.

Next, set up your bin. 16-gauge plastic-coated wire mesh and hardware cloth are good. Or build it from wooden pallets, snow fencing and a rabbit hutch. Reserve an area for composting. Burn plant rubbish in a bonfire or incinerator.

Materials that you can put in your composting bin include yard waste, such as grass and hedge trimmings, leaves or tree bark and wood chips. You may use household waste such as spoiled produce, fruit and vegetable peel, tea bags and coffee grounds. You could also use human hair, or even fabric scraps! Garden waste such as plants and weeds can be used, however avoid using diseased plants.

3- Manure

7) Work with what’s there

If broccoli is growing, leave it. If an onion is growing, take careful of it. Not only does it make the task easier for you, but you have an interesting garden from the get go.


8) Little and Often

Make sure to consistently tend to your allotment. Visit it on a regular basis for a small time, and don’t abandon it when the weather gets bad. This ensures that your allotment will steadily improve, and you don’t have the large task of deweeding and maintaining your allotment after leaving it for some time.

5- Work with whats there

9) Choose crops that don’t spoil

Being at university is a busy time and we understand if you can’t visit your allotment every day. Which is why, when considering vegetables to grow, it is important that you choose those that won’t spoil if you don’t harvest them immediately. These vegetables include chillies, potatoes, rhubarb, artichokes, beetroot, carrots, kale, onions, garlic, shallots and spinach.


10) Digging

Prepare the ground by digging it to remove weeds. Dig a trench to the depth of the spade, and barrow the soil to the other end of the plot. Fill up the new trench with soil from the previous one. Move backwards as you dig. Fill the final trench with the soil from the first.


Simples! Now have a go at getting started on your own allotment.

In Blog 2 of the ‘Allotment Blitz Allotmenteer’s Guide to Gardening’, we will be discussing ‘Weather’ and how to deal with tough conditions!

Catch you next time,

Meg & the SGO xxx

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It really is the Good Life!


photo 3

Cue Soundtrack


When it comes to gardening and allotments the first thing that springs to mind is BBC’s Good Life with Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers. Even though this is way before my time I remember sitting down and watching this with and grandma and experiencing my first glimpse of sustainable living through the main characters Tom and Felicity; Tom’s career has been as a draughtsman, a job he thoroughly dislikes. He feels his life is meaningless, nothing more than work and consumption. Becoming self-sufficient is his idea, but Barbara, after expressing concerns, supports him. Tom is determined to succeed at self-sufficiency, and is mostly cheerful about his new lifestyle.

Good life


So your probably thinking what is the point of this. Well here at Canterbury Christ Church University we have our very own Student Green Office where we promote sustainable living and self-sufficiency through our very own Edible Campus programme.

What is Edible Campus I hear your ask: Edible Campus at CCCU allows students and staff to reconnect with the food they eat in a sustainable way. Through food related activities such as Food for Thought debate events and our Allotment Blitzes provide the opportunity to understand what food security is and gives both students and staff to learn new skills through skill sharing opportunities.



How can you get involved:

If you would like to try your hand at being self-sufficient and growing your own flowers and crops please come along to the SGO and Edible Campus Allotment Blitz’s held Wednesday’s on the main university campus. To find out when our next allotment is running head on over to the SGO facebook page and join our group, where you can then join each allotment event. We are always looking for new people to join the SGO, if you would like to also help run our allotment diary here on the blog after each allotment blitz please let us know via our email; greenoffice@canterbury.ac.uk.


Lent term Allotment dates:



Jess & SGO


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Competition Time – #whatsoutsideyourwindow


The Student Green Office (SGO) for the next month will be running a twitter competition called #whatsoutsideyourwindow.

To get involved simply take a picture of what is outside your window tagging @studentGoffice and #whatsoutsideyourwindow in your tweet for a chance to win.

Here are a couple of examples of what the SGO saw when looking outside their windows:

Michaela's dad

 This is what Michaela saw outside her window, her dad doing the gardening.

SGO window

Outside the SGO’s office window on campus.



Outside the main Sustainability office on campus.

The winner will be announced on the 2nd September 2014.

We can’t wait to see what is outside your windows.  HAPPY TWEETING.




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Name that Tree/Plant


I have three different varities of tree’s that have been identified across the Canterbury Christ Church campus. Two of which were confirmed by celebrity plant collector Horticulturalist and Broadcaster Tom Hart-Dyke at the sustainability event on the 20th July.

6_Under Golden Rain Tree Laud

The Golden Rain Tree.


7_Tulip Tree

The Tulip Tree.

8_Olive tree_Laud

The Olive tree is one of several in the Laud courtyard garden.

There are several unnamed tree varieties around campus if anyone wants to take up that challenge and find out what they are, please contact me directly: philippa.mills@canterbury.ac.uk.

9_Memorial tree_Frances Templeman

This tree was planted in Old Sessions garden as a memorial to a member of staff who died (Frances Templeman).



Philippa & SGO


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Name that Tree/Plant

We have a guest blogger today on Future.Life Happiness who has done lots of work in regards to sustainability and the environment, her name is Phillipa.
I arrived fresh to Kent and Canterbury Christ Church in 2007. I trained at Heligan Gardens, Cornwall in Environmental Conservation and worked with S.W.Lakes Trust & Cornwall Wildlife Trust. I have also been successful in leading the Green Champion Team to win it’s Bronze award last year.
Name that Tree / Plant:
Name that tree or plant is to introduce the idea of staff and students to go and look at our special/unusal trees and plants for yoursevles and challenges you all to email your own photos of tress and plants on campus and from your own area with your questions or to be identified if yoyu would like, (the Chelsea flower show does this).
This project is it encourage students studying art, media, Life Sciences or photography to use the campus environment for their degree studies or dissertation (doesn’t just have to be students belonging to Canterbury Christ Chruch. Any student can do this using their own campus or local area).
I want to throw out the challenege for students to use the university campus to support their studies or to simply discover and enjoy the campus environment.
E.G. Question: How many Canterbury based students have actuallky visited the Priory Gardens at all?, Can anyone tell where our university bees are sited currently?, Did you know that our Mulberry tree is really old and the fruit can be used to make wine and Jam?
Common Name: Mulberry Tree
Location: Johnson Garden & Exit to Wootton’s green.
If you would like to find out more or contact me, please email:Philippa.mills@canterbury.ac.uk
LovePhilippa & SGO