Few would disagree with me if I were to wax lyrical about the joys of an allotment shed. They are a place of pure peace and tranquillity if you wish or a venue for classical music concerts if that is your preference and back in the day a good place to put a radio when the Test Match was on.
This article expounds the virtues of structures such as sheds, greenhouses and poly tunnels as they relate to our allotments, and more importantly the rules relating to size number etc.
While not everyone feels the need to have structures on their allotment and of course there is nothing to say you have to have them, many do.
To my mind there is much to recommend them. Somewhere to shelter if there is a passing shower, a place to make the allotment seem less like work and more like a leisure garden, a place to store all the pots, tools and paraphernalia that us gardeners seem to accumulate. In the case of poly tunnels and greenhouses, a place to bring on those tender plants. Last but not least structures create an excellent chance of collecting rainwater to help with the water supply.
With regards to general rules on structures:
No buildings, walls or permanent structures may be put up on the Allotment Garden by Tenants. Sheds, greenhouses or poly tunnels must comply with the Council’s specifications and conditions. No more than 25% of the plot should be assigned for structures.
Structures should be sited at the rear of the Plot or as directed by the Association. No permanent footings or bases may be constructed.
However while ‘structures’ is a wide term let’s look at each one in turn:
If I were to have only one structure on the allotment it would be a shed. There is just something about them that is almost magical. If you visit other members plots you find that Moor Green has an eclectic mix of sheds, of differing constructions with differing uses. From the no more than a tool store up to a home from home.
Indeed if you wish to inveigle your way into the good graces of any of your fellow allotmenteers, visit their plot and say nice things about their shed!
You will also see that many sheds at moor green have gone that step further in installing various types of log burners. Personally mine has not been in place for a winter so I don’t know what a difference it makes but I am anticipating it will mean visiting the allotment in the Autumn and early Spring will be a lot more comfortable.
In terms of regulations these are as follows:
A Tenant may only have one the maximum dimensions of a shed are 10’ x 8’ (3m x 2.4m)and a height of 8’6” (2.6m). Sheds may be erected without the need for prior consent from the Council. Such structures must have guttering connected to a water container (e.g.butt, barrel).
It should be added that going outside these dimensions may mean the structure has to be removed.
The benefits of a greenhouse in our climate are fairly self evident. They allow the growing season to start earlier and can be very cost efficient in terms of raising plants from seed. Judging by the surfeit of tomato plants there seems to be each year it seems there is no problem with germination!
For those who do not have a greenhouse but would like one it is a good idea to scour the local ‘Sell and Swap’ pages online as often greenhouses can be picked up for free as long as the recipient is willing to dismantle and re-assemble themselves.
In terms of the regulations greenhouses are similar to sheds:
A Tenant may only have one the maximum dimensions of a greenhouse are 10’ x 8’ (3m x 2.4m) and a height of 8’6” (2.6m). greenhouses may be erected without the need for prior consent from the Council. Such structures must have guttering connected to a water container (e.g.butt, barrel).
Poly Tunnels are increasingly popular in terms of providing covered growing space. They will not get the same level of warmth from solar gain as a glass greenhouse but they do not suffer quite the same problems of overheating on a very sunny day. Therefore it is worth doing some research and asking around about whether a greenhouse or poly tunnel better meets your needs. As I have mentioned before, few allotmenteers are bashful about talking about their plots and their structures so if in doubt just talk to people and sift out the advice that seems best for you.
There are many poly tunnels on sale of the aluminum frame with green plastic over. However a word of warning experience shows that these structures often fare quite badly in high winds. If you have any degree of DIY skills I would recommend a wooden framed poly tunnel with plastic (readily available from Amazon etc.). I can speak from personal experience that we have had some pretty high winds and this type of structure stands up well to them. This type of structure is also much easier to attach guttering to so can assist with rainwater collection.
In terms of what to grow within them, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, grapevines and melons all seems to do well, especially if they are in beds within the poly tunnel. Once again anyone who has one is likely to be only too willing to help out with advice and tips on what to grow.
In terms of regulations, the following applies to poly tunnels:
A poly tunnel may not be erected without the prior permission of the Association and may not exceed 20’ x 10’ (6m x 3m).
Sheds, greenhouses and poly tunnels are the main structures that people have. It is also a good idea to create a compost bin with a sloping roof which can be used for water collection.
Just one final word on the regulations relating to fences:
Tenants may not plant hedges or erect fencing or other barriers on or around their Plot. Tenants whose Allotment Garden contains, or is bounded by, an existing hedge, fence or gate permitted by the Council are responsible for maintenance. Ditches within the boundary of the Allotment Garden must be properly cleared and maintained.
Finally in relation to regulations this article contains only extracts and I would encourage anyone thinking of putting up any structures to check out the full rules that can be found on this website.
Speaking personally building structures has been my greatest pleasure in having an allotment, Mrs F is primarily the gardener and I am the handyman who helps out when told! Anyone who wants to talk sheds or poly tunnels is always welcome on Plot 6!