At the beginning of February we took an allotment at Season Park Farm near Newtownmountkennedy. The allotments are within a Walled Garden which was built in the 1740’s.
Irish allotments are generally quite small. Ours is 5 x 12 meters (16 x 39 ft) which is about one third the size of our vegetable garden back in the States. After about two weeks of working in the allotment I realized it would be too small to accommodate all my usual crops, so we took a second allotment immediately behind the first. The second plot is a tad smaller and extends up to the wall, meaning more shelter from the wind (but also potentially less sun).
Having never grown in such a public space, there are a few positive points I noticed immediately. First, I am able to stroll around and see how twenty other gardeners keep their plots, getting ideas and seeing a huge variety of approaches. This is quite interesting as well as teaching me a bit about the pests, weather conditions and plants that are common here.
A second benefit is that certain resources can be shared. Since I don’t have a pickup truck in Ireland (an indispensable tool back in the States for a big garden), I can’t haul my own compost or other materials like raised box lumber. The farm owner provides free compost which this year is very high quality, something that would cost $30 per yard in Washington but here I am able to take as much as I need. The farm also has a large barn where I can store my rototiller (here: rotavator) and also build boxes, charge my drill, and so on. Since I don’t have a suitable space for this type of thing at home, I find this very handy.
I have also been able to salvage a lot of useful items from other allotments whose owners didn’t continue this year. With the farm owner’s permission I dug up an entire bed of raspberries from one plot which will serve to get my own patch going. I also have a goodly stack of bricks and scaffolding planks from similarly abandoned plots. This will all serve me well as I extend my current raised bed scheme from the first plot to the second.