One of the few disadvantages of allotments compared to owning a kitchen garden is logistics. The carrying of compost and seeds, pots and trays etc to your plot can be a bit of a chore and it is at this time of year when potting compost, manures, seed potatoes and rotavators need to reach your plot that you notice it the most. Some allotments do have vehicle access but many hundreds do not.

Some plotholders do not have access to a car, I didn’t for 8 years, and still do a sterling job. Over the years I’ve known small trees, trays of seedlings and tools all to arrive at my plot by a combination of the bus and shanks pony with trusty bag to hand.

Carrying home the potatoes proved to be a love/hate thing. An exciting and demanding time, but it can be done and it is worth the effort. I have the T-shirt to prove it. There is something satisfying about the allotment way of life and not having a car.

The ideals of the two somehow go hand in hand. Healthy living and no traffic pollution, now that is green living.

Seed Sowing It is all systems go at this time of year and your progress from March to May will go along way to mapping out the season. We all need good weather and spare time to do the exciting stuff such as seed sowing and pricking out.

Taking a couple of days off work so we get ahead of the game now could be worth it in the long run.. There is nothing worse than playing catch up, when your neighbour’s seedlings are romping away.

Our greenhouses, polytunnels and coldframes should be bursting at the seams, full of the promise of luscious summer produce This is an exciting period in the gardening calendar, unrivalled and to be savoured, for winter is past with the lazy days of summer beckoning. Well that is the theory, but the script hasn’t been followed in recent years, though we live in hope.

There are different viewpoints on the right dates to sow seed. Areas just a few miles apart can have significant temperature differences and varying susceptibility to frost. My advice is simple, trust your instinct and experience.

Just because a book says sow in a particular month, only do it if the weather will allow. Parsnips are a case in point. While seed packets often say sow from Feb to March., be careful. Often the ground is not conducive to direct sowing at this time of year. There is no denying parsnips need a long season.

However, I have sown them in May and had a good crop. My best results have come from later sowings so rules can be bent.

Using a polytunnel or greenhouse can lengthen a season and gain a month’s start.I start off lettuce seed in February under glass and pick it in May before aphids and heat stress becomes a problem.

There is no point trying to force a crop to grow out of its natural comfort zone. Broad beans and lettuce do not like sustained heat and drought.

I don’t sow broad beans after the first week in June as they become susceptible to rust and chocolate spot as the temperature increases. After a last mid-summer sowing of lettuce, I don’t sow again until winter lettuce is sown in September.

Remember shade in moderation is no bad thing –you won’t find lettuce, swiss chard or Jerusalem artichokes complaining.

The latter are a fantastic, grow anywhere crop ideal for those difficult spaces we all have on our plots.

It’s Summer. As the summer gets into full flight our attentions turn to watering, weeding and harvesting! Hoeing on a warm sunny afternoon with a refreshing breeze at your back is an enjoyable task. Don’t forget to place the water hungry crops such as runner beans and sweet corn in soil containing plenty of humus and near a water butt or tap.

Try to resist getting the hose out after a week of dry weather as some of my fellow gardeners do on their “lotties”. It isn’t necessary, just because the surface of the soil “looks” dry. If you do need to water –then spot water and place pots or tubes near to the roots so the water can get down to the roots.

Sometimes a bone-dry topsoil can act as a sort of dry mulch, preventing water from penetrating to any great depth. In nature, plants are adept at finding moisture and they will often make better root systems as a result. After all, roots go down and don’t head to the surface- only to be killed by a baking August sun.

Pests. Summer brings its own problems in the inevitable form of pests. Allotments are communal and potato blight and clubroot both spread too easily. If your neighbour has clubroot, resist walking onto their plot and then your own.

The chances are soil infected with spores on your boots will infect your plot. Potatoes are a must for new untried ground and early and second early varieties should largely escape blight unscathed.

Pick a maincrop resistant variety if you are worried about blight.

Brassica plants are best protected from the cabbage white butterfly by a physical barrier. I use enviromesh, which stops the butterflies laying eggs on the host plants and helps to prevent pigeons attacking, particularly in spring and autumn. Prevention is better than cure.

The dreaded carrot rootfly is usually deterred by a barrier of fleece at least 60 cms, or two feett, in height. Alternatively grow carrots under fleece or enviromesh for the whole season.

Rain can still penetrate but the carrot fly can’t, providing the fleece is pegged down on all the boundaries. Thin out carrots on a still, balmy evening, when the scent is less likely to carry and alert any passing carrot flies.

Is it all worth it?

The answer is most definitely a resounding yes! Having been lucky to have cultivated various allotment plots over the past two decades, it has been a priceless part of my life. I wouldn’t swap any of it for anything else.

There has been joy, sadness, anger and frustration at times over the years, but never have I thought about quitting.

Stay with it during the tough times and the bounty will follow. Never give up the belief that you are doing the right thing – you most definitely are.

Most of all have a go and make sure you don’t miss out on one of life’s underrated pleasures.