Tips from My Little Allotment

It’s National Gardening Week and we have some helpful tips and hints from My Little Allotment. 

 
How did your gardening journey begin?  

My gardening journey started 4 years ago when I got myself an allotment after a breakdown in my mental health. Six months before getting my allotment I gave birth to my second daughter Mila but I had gone through a really tough pregnancy and birth, six months after she was born my mental health took a turn for the worse and I ended up really ill. I was suffering with severe panic attacks, night terrors, unable to do anything in fear that my family would be hurt, I dramatically lost weight and I was struggling to figure out what I had to live for. I was extremely poorly but luckily having the support of my doctor, family, and friends around me. I booked myself in for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and was diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and this came as a big shock to me. I did some reading into PTSD and PTSD linked to childbirth and how I can help myself improve my mental health. There was lots of information about how focus therapy can help PTSD and how gardening therapy can be beneficial as this is very task focused. So, six months after Mila was born, I applied for my allotment weeks after falling ill and this is how My Little Allotment was born and to this day I can honestly say that my allotment has helped me find myself again, its helped me back on my feet and it helps me in my day to day life to cope much better with my mental health. My allotment has saved me and brought me back to happier more positive place in my life and I am forever grateful for how amazing gardening therapy has been for me. I am now a total gardening, allotment and plant addict and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 
 

What is your secret to… 

April is the perfect time to start sowing pumpkin and squash seeds indoors on windowsills or in greenhouses so I’m going to let you know my secrets to creating a perfect pumpkin patch. The first step is to make sure that you prepare the area where you will be growing your pumpkins as they are very thirsty and hungry plants. When It comes to planting your pumpkin, here are some tips to help make watering more efficient. Make sure you dig a much larger hole than you need for planting and pop some double strength compost/manure into the bottom of it. To the side of the large hole pop a large plant pot and then plant your pumpkin in the hole next the plant pot and fill in the hole with compost leaving the plant pot empty. The plant pot will then become the watering pot for your pumpkin. When you water your pumpkin during the growing season water directly into the pot this way all the water goes directly to the roots of the pumpkin plant and the water wont evaporated off the ground. Pumpkins/squash are really thirsty plants and like to drink lots of water every day so make sure that you also use lots of mulch around the plant to help retain the moisture in the soil for those hot days. You will need to feed your feed the pumpkin/squash plants at least once a week as they can be pretty greedy. 

 

What should we be planting this month? 

April is the busiest month for sowing seeds so get ready to work hard. During April it’s a great time to start sowing some seeds directly into the ground outdoors in prepared garden/allotment beds, pots and containers. I will be sowing my peas, beetroot, lettuce, radish, spring onions, swiss chard, carrots, leeks and turnips directly into the soil outside in my allotment over the next few weeks, you can continue to sow things like beetroot, lettuce spring onions and radish every few weeks for a successional crop. If you have windowsills or a greenhouse you can also get seeds sown indoors, this is the perfect time to sow cucumbers, pumpkins, squash and sweetcorn. Make sure that any chilli, pepper, tomato and aubergines that you have grown through March are potted on into bigger pots so they have they can grow stronger roots and be ready to be transferred to their final growing positions in May time or when the risk of last frost has passed. 
 

How can we find further tips from you? 

You can find more tips and hints and follow My Little Allotments journey over on my Instagram page @my_little_allotment and my twitter account @allotment9a. 
 
 
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