Allotment vs Garden?

A couple of evenings ago we went on a hot air balloon ride across Bath. I’m not usually great with heights and so I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I was the person holding on very tight before launch and not saying very much. But once we were in the air, I was fascinated. One of the things that caught my eye was an aerial view of Bath’s Victoria Park allotments. Wow! I was actually stunned to see how big the site is. I’ve driven past it many times but never had a close look.

Everyone’s plot looked so neat from the air. And there were communal areas with poly-tunnels and funky-looking garden sheds. You can even see a little party going on if you look closely next to the tunnels. And I’m sure I saw some evidence of BBQ smoke. What an amazing community!

It made me really miss my allotment. And it got me thinking about what a garden can give you that an allotment can’t, and vice versa. This is my take on it:


  • You can go there at any time, even if you only have 5 mins to spare
  • All of your tools, seeds, and stuff are to hand
  • You can plant trees and put up sheds (most allotments don’t allow you to)
  • No-one will steal your veg (at least, it’s unlikely anyway)
  • You can weed with your dressing gown and slippers on (very important for early morning gardening)
  • You can water your garden with a hose pipe or irrigation system
  • You can child-proof your garden with gates and fences
  • You can look out of your window and see all your hard work every day
  • You can harvest veg whenever you like


  • You’ll be part of a great community
  • You will get tons of advice from seasoned growers
  • You will have lots of room to grow plants that need a lot of room (Pumpkins, Potatoes and Courgettes)
  • You don’t have to worry about your plot looking pretty
  • You can enter your biggest Marrow in the allotment Veg Show and win a prize!
  • You can have a nosy around other people’s plots and get some great ideas
  • You will be able to grow waaay more produce than you can ever eat so you can give some away!
  • Lastly, (but not to be underrated) the soil will already be very deep after years and years of digging

If you can think of any other pros and cons then add them in the comments.

I’ll stick with my garden for now, but some time in the future (who know’s when) I think I might have to have another allotment if only for the BBQs.

32 Comments on “Allotment vs Garden?

  1. Cool in-the-air pics!

    For newbie veggie gardeners like me still in the first throes of excitement, I can go out and check on my seedlings before work every morning, to see how many mm they’ve grown since the night before.

    …or is that a bit sad? ¬__¬

    I don’t think I would ever have the motivation or energy for an allotment, so the community here is online, and sharing experiences with friends who have the same interest. :)

  2. I think allotment – you can grow lots more experimental plants – and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look nice. But, re the pumpkin / squash space requirement – I was watching a gardening programme, and a lady renowned for her influencing on gardening and veg growing, coils her pumpkin / squash in a circle. She pins the stems down to the ground to make sure the plants stay coiled. And voila – you can grown pumpkin / squash in a much smaller space. Love the aerial photos – such a great view.

  3. I like going into the garden in my PJs to potter in the morning before work and to dig up carrots like I did today. I think I’d get some strange looks on an allotment!

  4. Great photos,and that is a huge alotment…I still think Id rather my own backyard :0)

  5. I thought about those same advantages. I have a garden and as I am a first timer the ability to drop outside and see if the plants have grown another cm or two …better in the dressing gown….is a real buzz. I can see that the sense of community and mixing would be something special. Still you and others who generously share their experiences make up ‘community’ too.

    Those are awesome pictures. It is a big area for sure. It would be great if the councils/government would organise allotments for everyone who wanted one all over Great Britain. That would be so cool.

    I am loving my yard now.

  6. I love having my own garden but if I didn’t have one I would certainly look into the community gardening system they have out here in Vancouver…

    Nice aerial shots!

  7. Wow, you were brave going up in a balloon. Great views though.
    I’m a first time allotmenteer this year and I’m loving the extra space and the sense of community. I’m growing things at the allotment that I don’t have room for in my garden, but still growing things like tomatoes and peppers in my greenhouse.

  8. Don’t forget the bugs and slugs!

    I grow stuff like salad and broan beans in the garden because it’s much easier to keep the snails and blackfly at bay if you can nip out every evening. If I leave them alone at the allotment for more than a day or two they’re eaten alive.

    If you see yourself heading down the allotment this side of 2015 you should probably stick your name on the local waiting list now. If Bath is anything like our neck of the woods it will be a good few years before one comes up…

    Another plus of staying in the garden: it’s not full of topless old men when the sun comes out. You can’t put a price on that kind of bonus…

  9. Allotment is more expensive, especially if you pay for water there. You do have to worry about it being tidy. You can get thrown off your allotment for not keeping it weedfree.

    Everyone should be able to have an allotment within a short walk from their home. It’d probably mean knocking down swathes of houses in some urban areas to achieve this, but what a better quality of life when you’re not all squashed up on top of each other.

  10. I live in the City and have just a small concrete yard so i got an allotment about 4 years ago. You’re absolutely right about the benefits PLUS when you’re new to it everyone feels sorry for you and you get given lots of things! Most of the old boys on my allotment have large gardens and several greenhouses at home too so as long as i get the soil ready i’m often given surplus plants. This is especially helpful when sewing seeds would never occur to me normally in the dark depths of February. On the down side if time is short it’s not worth going for less than an hour and that’s when i hanker after my own garden. However i wouldn’t trade it for the seclusion, peace and large open space with gorgeous xx year old trees (we are lucky enough to have an edge plot surrounded by elderflower, damson and hazlenut trees which provide some shade as well as attracting birds). So in my ideal world i’d have both because if i only had a garden i’d miss the birds and trees (i have cats), the variety of crops and the wisdom and conversation of other plot holders. Nowhere else would you meet quite the variety of people as you do down the lottie :o)

  11. Glad you got over your fear, these are great shots. Love your new banner and logo, mtp.

  12. Fascinating pictures.
    I live out in the “Urban Sprawl” where everything is at least a 15 minute drive away – the mailbox is a quarter mile round trip. Having plenty of room is good, but there is very little community in the rural suburbs.
    Gardening along side other like minded people sounds enticing. Sadly we have no allotment system where I live.
    If you ever get a chance to joy ride in a small plane you should jump on it – maybe you can get some shots of MTP from the air if you do.

  13. Great photos. I like to look at allotments on google earth. They’re fascinating, like patchworks. Mine is on a tiny site (30 plots) but others are vast like small regimented towns.

  14. Wonderful shots! I’d love to go up in a balloon but would be too worried about the landing I think!

    I have a small veggie patch at home and an allotment and love them both. For me though, I feel blessed and lucky to have my lottie.

    With five children it’s somewhere I can go for peace and quiet (our site is small and there is no community as such. We chat but most of us love the peace. I’m not sure I’d be so good on a big site).

    It’s also the only place where I don’t have to share. Sure, the family come along but it’s my plot and I decide everything.

    It’s enriched my life no end. And only costs £5.50 a year. Bargain!

  15. I am a first year allotmenteer, and although I love my own garden which is full of tomatoes, peas, chilli peppers, cucumbers and bell peppers….I love to head off to my plot to get away for some ‘me’ time. I spend hours at the weekend just doing bits and bobs, weeding, thinning out etc, and when I come home I read about how it should have been done!!!
    I have been given so much produce by many really lovely people who are always willing to help me plant stuff the right way up!
    I look forward to the weekends (and making curtains for my shed!).

  16. I have an allotment, second year now. Most of the folk are nice people, but you get the odd few… I would love a big garden to tinker around in, privately, I would be out there most of the time. As it is I can only get down the plot once a week. It is also so squashed up the allotments, the plot sizes are getting smaller and smaller. But there you go! The grass is always greener… ;o)

  17. Having never had a garden (we live in a 2nd floor flat in Bristol, England) we decided to apply for an allotment some time ago. We were given a plot in Oct 08 and I can honestly say its been a life changing experience! Not only are we now learning how to grow our own food but also have somewhere outdoors to go and also a way of keeping fit and healthy.

    I can see why it would be nice to just step out of your house into your garden but luckily the site is only a 10 minute walk away so not far really. We treat the place as if it were our garden anyway and are growing flowers as well as fruit and veg, well when were not just sitting in the sun and reading! We’ve had a couple of our own BBQs already this year thanks to the good weather and the community spirit around us is fantastic. Everyone there is so friendly and willing to give advice.

    Of course I’d love to have both allotment and garden but the allotment definitely serves all purposes for us for now.

  18. For me, my garden veg plot is fab:

    1. cup of hot cafe latte – check
    2. In your dressing gown 6am/11pm – check
    3. In the greenhouse at the above times – check
    4. Nothing for tea – run to your outdoors supermarket – check
    5. Being caught by your neighbours in said dressing gown – Oh yes – check

    May be the lazy way, but I love it!

    Cat x

  19. The photos aloft are wonderful! Allotments (communal gardening as we say across the pond-the Atlantic Ocean) are uncommon in the southern US. Your website is fun to follow and I learn so much about the gardening culture of others. We can garden year round in coastal plains of NC and take for granted that there is space for growning things…

  20. I think the ‘party’ you may have photographed in the organic allotment (2nd Pic), was actually a play about sustainable food production:

    – It was a fantastic event. You might want to email those guys as I’m sure they’d love to see your photo. … Of course it could just be a different event…


  21. I am very lucky with my allotment – firstly it is less than one minute from my house that makes visiting dead easy. Also, we’re allowed to do loads of the things that you wished for on an allotment. We’ve got sheds, mains water if you want to use a hose (though I try to use only rainwater from my butts), we can put up fences to make areas child safe! I don’t agree about not making an allotment pretty though – function and form is really important for me so I want a plot that looks as gorgeous as the veg it produces tastes!

    Having said all this about how much I adore my allotment I should point out that I do love my little garden as well!

  22. A benefit I’ve recently experienced is donations – when your allotment neighbour needs to get rid of something, like plants, they might give them to you rather than have them go to waste. I received a TON of onions, as well as some garlic and tomato plants, from a neighbour who needed some space to plant out some leeks.

  23. Love my allotment but I’d rather have it in my garden if there was room. (I have a small veg patch in garden too.) In the garden I notice when plants have pests straight away and can do something about them, usually in my dressing gown same as everyone else! I use my allotment for potatoes, courgettes, squash etc and it is great to chat to everyone, then it’s sometimes difficult to get all the work done. With such a wait for allotments in UK I’d never let it go though they are precious things for £13 a year. Your blog is great esp these pics from the balloon.

  24. For the Allotment:-

    1. Chance to borrow equipment if you haven’t bought it yet.
    2. More chance of getting someone to water for you whilst you’re away.
    3. Aswell as having people to give your excess veggies to, you would get it from others.
    4. There would always be someone who knows someone that does whatever you need, whether it’s to do with the gardening or other things. Like a huge pub community.
    5. Always someone around if you need extra help with something (lifting or whatever) and you wouldn’t have to wait til hubby / wifey had time to come and help.

    However… for the garden:-

    1. No need to feel guilty if you have a BBQ and haven’t invited everyone as they won’t be staring over the fence watching you.
    2. You can take a wonder round the garden when you’re feeling blue and it will cheer you up.
    3. If you have a quick half hour to spare, you can just nip out and do a quick deadhead, or tie up or check.
    4. Noone to criticise or tell you “you’re doing that wrong”.
    5. The great views from your windows.

    Whilst I can see the good points of having an allotment, given the choice, I would still have my own garden.

  25. Andrew – a play, of course! I did hear about that but didn’t get around to buying tickets. Sounded like a lot of fun.

  26. Those photographs are great! I cannot wait to get an allotment – we are about 11 months in on a 2 year waiting list.

  27. A balloon trip is a magical experience. And to look down on an allotment at this time of year is a bonus. Re Garden vs Allotment I’m biting my lip hard regarding your last allotment plus point having finally got an allotment which has clearly not been worked for years and is as akin to concrete as I can imagine soil to be so this year the garden containers have still have the edge.

  28. Pingback: Now you see them, now you don’t « The drooling vegetable

  29. I have to agree with all of your pros and cons. Having said that, looking at the list, logic favours the back garden over the allotment. Instinctively I think allotment is much much better and I can’t even really explain why. We have both. Even the pros you have mentioned aren’t really applicable to us.

    – The allotment is on a chalk hill, therefore the soil is very shallow, even barren at times.

    – We often go at times where no-one else is around, so we don’t get the community aspect.

    – We make the allotment look as pretty as a garden, so no benefit there.

    Somehow, being part of a communal enterprise is just more than the sum of the parts. It is so life giving to see all the plants, styles and energy of everyone else. It is also nice to get away from it all in a way that you never can in the garden. The phone is switched off, the usual household chores can’t be done, and you have to devote your energies to the task in hand.

  30. Some friends of mine have the best of both worlds – a garden and allotments… and the allotments back onto their garden!

    They turned part nof their back fence into a gate, so they have to literally walk to the back of the garden to be at their allotment…nice.

  31. Re lottie versus garden, does anyone else think time just flies when your on your lottie. I always say to him indoors pick me up in a couple of hours and I’ll be sat in my greenhouse listenening to the birdies settling down for the evening thinking I could just do the same maybe I will set a comfy bed up in the shed mmmmmmm.
    I am quite lucky and not too far away but you can keep a better eye on the bugs in the garden, we had all our brassicas last year looking wonderful after nurturing covering up feeding ect then the cabbage white last year was the worst ever they covered everything we had nothing left we only went away for a few days, thinking twice this year!!

  32. Crop rotation is a challenge with a small garden. Having both is ideal.