My Free Allotment Planning Tools for 2019

If you want to get a copy of the tools that I demonstrate in this video please click on this link and create an account:
https://airtable.com/invite/r/WzGlQnBX

If you just want to browse the tools first click on this link: https://airtable.com/universe/creator/usr9tY4KaKvgGM1um/steves-seaside-allotment, but if you want to take a copy of the databases to use for yourself, click the first link: https://airtable.com/invite/r/WzGlQnBX

If you want to look at how I created last year’s planting plan for the allotments then take a look at this video:

and maybe the playlist on allotment management:

This video provides a quick look back at the way I managed the allotment last year and then dives into what I think are better and easier to use tools that I am using this year. I explain briefly why I’ve changed the tools I use, but here’s the full description:

1) I wanted tools that would capture information that I need to learn how to be more productive and to make my life easier in future years. Specifically I wanted information about timings for early and late sowings.
2) I wanted tools that worked really well on my PC, the web and most importantly my phone. I also wanted to be able to easily get the data into Excel for future analysis if needed
3) I wanted tools that used a central cloud database so that Debbie and I could both make updates while we were out and about on the plot to a single central database
4) I wanted the tools to be free and easy to use and share

I chose to do my master plan in Excel, but all of the day to day data that I need is captured into apps that I created using Airtable. This is a free cloud database that is very customisable. The apps that I created I’ve shared with the world, via this link https://airtable.com/universe/creator/usr9tY4KaKvgGM1um/steves-seaside-allotment if you would like to take a copy create an account with this link https://airtable.com/invite/r/WzGlQnBX

Finally I’m aware that there are lots of other tools out there, ranging from spreadsheets to full blown graphical planning applications. I’ve tried a few of them, but they don’t meet my needs, some don’t deal with my climate very well, or they don’t work well for early and late season planting or they are just too complex.

If you are new to my allotment videos you might find a bit of context useful. We have three allotments in my family, mine (Steve), my wife’s (Debbie) and my middle daughter’s (Jennie). We also have a small kitchen garden at home. They are all managed in an integrated fashion, so don’t expect to see the usual mix of veg on each plot.

On Jennie’s plot, for example, we focus on potatoes, squash, alliums, and brassicas. This video provides an overview:

I do an update of the allotments, roughly one a week, you can find the tours here:

Our approach to allotment life is to: grow as much as we possibly can, to be self-sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit in season, to give away our huge surplus to friends and family, and to have as much fun as possible.

My wife and I spend about 4 hours a day, 4 days a week on the plots (on average) and we keep nudging that down as we eliminate non-productive work: like grass cutting, weeding and watering as much as practical. We are both newbie gardeners, only starting the allotments in 2016.

I’m a bit obsessive about the nutrient density of the veg that we grow and making the plots easy to work because it’s through this allotment lifestyle and food that I’ve overcome a debilitating auto-immune disease.

I’m always aware though that it might not last so I make sure that I don’t work too hard, eat as much organic fruit and veg I can and design the plots so that I can still work them if I flare up again.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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