Guidelines for allotment holders. Introduction
Thank you for renting an allotment at Purple Pear Farm. Growing your own food is a rewarding accomplishment in many ways. The benefits of growing your own include:
• Organically grown
• Chemical free
• Produced locally
• Non GM seeds (when using the farms seeds)
• Preserving heritage varieties
• Taste better
However, when faced with your new allotment, there are many challenges awaiting the novice gardener. This booklet, plus the additional information on our website, provides you with guidance on how to manage a successful allotment garden.
Purple Pear Farm's methods are based on the principles of organic farming. These principles are to be adopted by allotment holders.
It is not Purple Pear Farm's objective to force strict rules and regulations on allotment holders on how to run your allotment. Part of this experience will be making and learning from your mistakes. However, from experience gained over the years, there are several issues that are to be addressed to allotment holders. Getting Satisfaction
Working your allotment should be enjoyable and give you much satisfaction as you see your efforts rewarded with produce full of taste and freshness. It is important that you do some work on the allotment at least weekly, even if rain has been doing the watering for you. Spells of dry, windy weather may demand almost daily visits to keep your plants thriving.
If you are having difficulty maintaining an effective schedule, see if you can share the frequency of visits with another member or a friend. Contact the Allotment Coordinator to discuss any extended period of absence. Allotment Maintenance
There is may be a list of members waiting for allotments. An allotment that becomes neglected, overgrown and unproductive does not make its intended contribution to the Farm’s objective of sustainable living. Rental of an allotment is therefore conditional upon the following:
IMPORTANT. It is your responsibility to maintain the appearance of your allotment and the adjoining pathways.
If your allotment becomes overgrown and encroaches onto neighbouring allotments or contains unacceptable levels of weeds, you will be notified by the farm in the following procedure.
1. A verbal discussion from a representative to better maintain your allotment, or, an email if you cannot be personally contacted, reminding you of allotment holder responsibilities.
2. If the allotment is not adequately improved within two weeks, a formal request will be issued (either by mail, phone or email) stating that you have two weeks to maintain the allotment.
3. If after two weeks from the issuing of a formal letter, nothing has been done, you will relinquish the occupancy of the allotment immediately.
Over the course of a year for some reason (e.g. holidays) you may experience difficulty in managing your allotment. It is important that you make alternative arrangements during this time. This can be as simple as organising with a friend to come down and weed every week. If this cannot be achieved, contact the Allotment Coordinator to arrange a suitable solution. Over the extended holiday periods (especially Christmas) many allotment holders till all their plants into the soil and plant a cover crop (such as mung beans, oats, buckwheat or lucerne). This has two advantages:
• The cover crop suppresses weeds and
• It is a great green manure crop that can be tilled into the soil when you are ready to begin planting again.Protected Habitat
The tree belt surrounding the garden area is protected habitat for many creatures and the dumping of weeds is prohibited in this area.Watering
Water is a precious resource that needs to be used in a responsible way. We ask that all members observe water regulations.
Reduce your water use by:
• Using mulch around your plants
• Avoid watering in the middle of the day
• Water the ground, not the foliage of your plants
Tap timers and drip irrigation will reduce water usage.
You are encouraged to let some of your plants flower and go to seed. Although it may be hard to resist, choose the healthiest, best producing plant in your allotment for the seeds for next years crop.
Please let the Garden Coordinator know if you plan to save seeds from the Brassica family (Lettuce, Cabbage, Broccoli etc). These plants easily cross pollinate so that new varieties are formed. Unfortunately any new variety created is generally not as good as either parent.
Most of the seed saving on the Farm occurs in the market garden, so this area will have preference for the saving of any Brassica varieties. Dogs
Dogs are NOT welcome at the farm. The farm dogs have specific roles on the property and strange dogs can easily upset the balance of those duties. Poultry needs to be protected from predation too.Use of Facilities
To make the farm’s equipment available for member use, Purple Pear’s tool sheds are opened for a few hours on two days a week (usually every Wednesday morning and Saturday morning). Check with the garden coordinator for current days and times as these may change according to the season. We do ask that you clean and return all tools and equipment to the shed after you have finished with them. Please report any maintenance, breakages or safety issues that you may notice.
Seeds are available from the farm. Many of the varieties have been “seed saved” from the farm. If you are buying seeds from a nursery, please check that they are not genetically modified.
You can tend your allotment at any time but when the farm's equipment is locked away you will need to bring your own tools. Choosing Plants
Most allotments are approximately five meters by six metres or 30 square meters. This size may restrict the number and types of plants to grow on your allotment. Smart choices as to the type and number of plants you grow will result in a more satisfying harvest. You may opt for a smaller plot or share with a friend.
When you first receive the allotment, it is usually empty, ready for you to fill with plants. It is easy at this stage to go overboard and plant too many seedlings which results in overcrowding and smaller vegetables produced.
So give careful consideration to the types of plants you will grow. We are happy to advise if you so wish.
Some plants like pumpkins and melons can quickly spread out over your allotment and beyond. If you do choose to plant these, your neighbour is entitled to cut off any runners encroaching onto their allotment and runners may be damaged during mowing and whipper-snipping.
Similarly avoid planting large shrubs or trees that will cast shade over your (and your neighbour’s) allotment. Larger plants also require a lot more water to establish than herbs and vegetables.
Please limit the height of trellises to 1m. This will reduce the amount of shade cast onto neighbouring allotments. Also, trellises should be placed in a North - South alignment to reduce the duration of shade cast onto neighbouring allotments.
Plant seeds in from the edge so that the fully grown plant doesn't cover your neighbours allotment or pathway. Weeds
Beginning with an empty allotment, the first plants you see emerging from the soil may not be the seeds you planted, but more likely weeds. It can be difficult at this early stage to know what to keep and what to pull out. If in doubt ask one of the farm volunteers.
It is important that you do keep your allotment free from weeds, particularly before they flower and disperse their seed. In many varieties this can be less than two weeks so regular weeding is important. One allotment with weeds can undo the good work done by other allotment holders by spreading weeds across the farm.
You are also required to weed the pathways adjacent to your allotment.
If a neighbouring allotment is becoming full of weeds, do not take it upon yourself to remove them (apart from any that may be encroaching on to your allotment). See the Allotment Coordinator and they will address the problem.Pesticides and herbicides
Many pesticides do not discriminate between the good and bad bugs. They can also end up in your plants which are then eaten by you. Organic farming utilises other methods to control pests and weeds. These include:
Companion planting – Certain plants provide beneficial qualities when planted together; e.g. Marigolds control nematodes (minute worms in the soil) that attack many plants, especially tomatoes. Mulching can suppress many weed species. Healthy plants are less susceptible to pests and disease.
Maintaining watering and fertilising – This will improve your plants resistance to attack. Organic fertilisers are just as effective as chemical alternatives. You will find recipes for organic fertilisers on our website and usually some drums of liquid fertiliser at the farm marked “For Anyone”.
Manual control and traps – A careful look at your plants may show up hiding grasshoppers and caterpillars which can be removed by hand. Coffee grinds deter snails. Fruit-fly traps can be made from plastic drink bottles. Other farm members will be happy to share their methods with you.
Biological control – If you take a quiet seat, you will soon discover the army of lizards patrolling the farm. These little helpers have a voracious appetite. Placing a few rocks around your plot will encourage the lizards to stay and feed on any grubs and insects they can find. You may also notice the Magpies, Willy wagtails, Kookaburras and other birds that frequent the farm. They all are an effective method of controlling pests. Wildlife
A surprising number of animals call Purple Pear Farm home. As well as the small lizards and birds mentioned before, you may encounter blue tongue lizards and snakes.
When digging in your plot you may disturb a large snake like creature. Do not kill it or try to hurt it as it is more than likely a harmless legless lizard. Snake sightings are not uncommon at the farm. If you do see one or something that looks like a snake, do not try to kill it. They generally are an important control for rats and mice.The Purple Pear Farm Community
Finally, share information with fellow plot holders. Discuss your successes and failures with others. Likewise don't be afraid to ask someone if you are having problems achieving the results you are expecting, or see in other allotments.
Why not get involved in some of the other teams working at the farm. The Market Garden is a communal area for all farm members where you can learn the secrets to growing (which can be used in your own plot). You can also share in the produce harvested.
Other areas including the fruit forest, seed saving, composting and maintenance teams are continually looking for helpers. Even half an hour a week helps the farm greatly.
Inexpensive and informative workshops are regularly held at the farm on a number of topics. You can learn about organic food production, composting, cooking and relaxation methods.
Contacts Go to the Farm website: www.purplepearfarm.com.au or the Farm Facebook page
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address allotment issues “To: Allotment Coordinator”