In March 2005 I was lucky enough to speak to the right person at Haringey Parks Department and got an allotment without having to endure any waiting lists. This is pretty rare in London, most people have to wait a few years to get their plot. In some areas you might never get one. Islington has only 15 plots and yet is one of the most populous boroughs in the country. The quoted waiting time for me was 30 years!
The reason I got mine so quick was that it was disused and in a very overgrown state, covered in a blanket of brambles. Here's a shot from the nearby flats showing it before any work was carried out.
That's a shed hidden in the middle. I didn't even know it was there until a few days into the clearance!
The real secret into getting the ground clear of the weeds was roping in the help of friends. Without their labour I'd have harvested nothing more than blackberries!
The plot is on a slope and there was a stepping which was asking to be terraced. Yesten happened to have a handy supply of railway sleepers available. Some serious digging, lifting and sweating was involved, but the effect was worth it.
After the ground was clear, the next step was to dig up the beds and break up the soil. Fortunately a very well aged compost heap was found and we used this to improve the soil structure. The race was on to get the beds ready for sowing in April and May.
After that the sun did its thing and everything started growing at record pace. The whole point of an allotment is getting healthy vegetables to eat and having fun in the process and that's exactly what happened all Summer.
One tip has got to be pick your courgettes before they turn into marrow monsters!
I intend to document the 2006 growing season on this website so come back soon and track the plot's progress. And thank you to everyone who helped turn it around!