Yesterday the turf was removed from my allotment space at MERL (Museum of English Rural Life). The space is 270cms x 470cms, which in traditional allotment terms is actually very small. The recent surge of interest in allotments and growing ones own vegetables has prompted many allotments to be made into smaller plots to accommodate the cultural desire.
Traditional allotments were based on the measurement of the rod (or pole/perch). This measurement seems to have been derived from medieval times and refers to the distance of the rod/pole used to guide a team of oxen whilst they pulled a plough. A standard allotment plot is 10 rods. A rod is 5.5 yards (5.03metres). A chain = 4 rods = 22yd (20.12m). A furlong = 10 chains. One mile = 8 furlongs. An acre is the area of land that could be ploughed in a day, being a furrow long (furlong) and a chain wide, or 160 square rods. Allotment sizes are usually 5 or 10 rods. A 10 rod allotment is 10 square rods in area, 10 x 5.5 x 5.5 = 302.5 sq yd (253 sq m). In metric units, a 10 rod allotment is 1/40th hectare: in imperial units it is 1/16th acre.
Extract based on measurements found on Bluebell Allotments which in turn was based on a sign in the RHS Model Vegetable Garden, Wisley.
Notes on Planting Day One:
I decided not to dig the plot as the turf has been removed, and there are as yet no weeds. The earth is somewhat compact, but digging can remove nutrients from the soil and encourage the germination of weeds. There are plenty of worms in the soil. I hope the birds do not eat all my seeds. Not a slug or snail in sight!
All seeds planted are organic (Tamar Organics).
Onion sets Radar, 36 onions over two rows approximately 15cms apart.
Broad Beans Supersimonia, 5cm deep and 10cms apart, 1 row, 30 seeds, harvest June.
Peas Meteor, very dwarf growing variety, hardy and ideal for exposed sites, ht 35cms, sown in shallow trenches, 5cms deep and approximately 5cms apart. To be picked May onwards. Planted 2 rows about 90 seeds in each row = 180. Very dense, but in my experience one can loose a lot.
Spinach Giant Winter, 1 row 2cms deep about 90 seeds to be thinned to 25cm apart.
Area planted was 140cms leaving 330cms of plot un-planted.