Unless the new plotholder is extremely lucky it is likely that the plot offered will need to be cleared. Taking on an allotment plot is a considerable commitment in both time and effort and some hard work is required, particularly in the early stages.
The soil on the Addison Gardens site is essentially heavy London clay. This is both good and bad news. Good in the sense that clay, if well tended, is extremely fertile and excellent for growing a wide range of vegetables. Bad in the sense that it involves some heavy digging, particularly at first, and attention needs to be given to working in additional organic matters (see section on soil improvement and fertilisers) and drainage.
It is a good idea to have a realistic plan about what can be achieved in the first year. The essential requirement is that the soil needs to be thoroughly dug over at the outset to remove perennial weeds. It is not a good idea to rotavate until this has been done. So a plot can be cultivated in stages and an element covered in weed suppressant material in the meantime.
However plotholders should be aware that the Association Rules require that at least 50% of the plot is in active cultivation after one year and 75% after two years. Given the demand for allotment plots in the Borough this is only reasonable and unless there are exceptional reasons (such as family illness etc) this rule will be enforced through annual inspections of plots by the Committee.
The rules also allow each plotholder to have one greenhouse and one shed on each plot. The maximum size for both is 8 feet by 6 feet (unlike the magnificent structure in the photograph which was built just before the rules were introduced!). The buildings should not obstruct communal paths and should not block the light to neighbouring plotholders, who should be consulted before erection.
Plotholders are also allowed to cut down small trees and saplings which have grown on their plots if they are hindering the proper cultivation, but they must not cut down trees or hedges in communal areas. If in doubt please consult a committee member.
It is advisable to devise a plot layout which avoids having to walk on the soil which is to be cultivated. This can be achieved by designing narrow beds with paths in between. The paths can be covered with weed suppressant plastic covered in woodchip. (Woodchip is delivered free to both fields). A raised bed system (as illustrated above) is recommended as it will also aid drainage, but plotholders are of course free to develop a layout of their own choice.