NEW ALLOTMENTS were officially opened in Shinfield, with gardening advice from the University of Reading.
On Wednesday, Ocotober 23 botanists from the University were on hand to provide expert advice on making the most of their allotments.
Janis Pich, Director of Estates at the University of Reading, cut the ribbon to declare the allotments open. She said: “Allotments are in demand as growing your own food becomes more popular. We are pleased to be providing the Deardon Allotments to the Shinfield community and hope they will be a valuable resource for green-fingered residents.
“The allotments add to the public green spaces surrounding Shinfield that are managed by the University and are already well-used by local walkers.”
Located on the western edge of Shinfield, there are 34 plots and will be managed by Shinfield Parish Council. They were donated by the University as an addition to other community facilities and infrastructure it has provided alongside housing development in the area.
Ian Clarke, Shinfield Parish Councillor, said: “At present, we do not have any allotments in this area so these allotments will create a better distribution in the parish. We are pleased that some local residents have already booked allotments on this site.”
He hopes the allotments will allow children at the new primary school to get involved in growing fruit and vegetables.
Allotment holders, residents and representatives from the University of Reading and Shinfield Parish Council all gathered at St Mary’s Church Hall for the allotments opening event.
Dr Alastair Culham, a botany expert at the University, and Tomos Jones, Biological Sciences PhD student and Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist, answered questions from allotment holders on choosing the right plants for their plots and how to grow giant vegetables.
Dr Culham said: “The key to a good allotment with healthy plants is to get the soil right. Be prepared to add homemade compost to put crucial organic matter into the ground. Lots of well-rotted manure and plenty of watering is the secret to prize-winning veg.
“You should make sure your plot has good drainage in the winter, and raising planting beds is an effective way of doing this.
“It’s always a good idea to plan your allotment carefully so you get food all year round. Certain plants will thrive with more or less sunlight or rain, or in different types of soil, so a bit of research will go a long way.