How to look after an allotment (this time with a question attached!)

05/20/2012 - 11:52

Sorry - started to type the post and got dragged out by my partner for a walk in Posillipo! So here goes: we have been 'given' a small plot of land by our neighbours to look after and grow veg on. We have little/no knowledge of keeping an allotment and whilst have taken some educated guesses plus advice from the locals would be grateful for any hints or tips on how to keep the wild grass down after planting our veg, and to keep the bugs away etc. Or if you can direct me to a website about 'ortos' in Campania as all info on Italian gardens seems to focus on Tuscany!Thank-you!Jane



... best way to keep weeds down is to look up double digging... Hard work, but well worth it... Next best tip for here in Italy (which we got from our next door neighbour ) is to plant your veg in a hole (about 15-20cm deep), mix in some compost and water very well (almost half a bucket for toms), don't water again for 2-3 days and when you do scrape a little of the dug out soil back over the watering... It does a couple of things, retains moisture, protects from the wind, stops too much sun getting on the small plant and (in toms and other veg) allows the plant to put out new strong roots... Oh and when you plant them deem and firm them in well... Good luck!

The best advice will probably come from your neighbours as I'm sure they will be keeping an eye on what you are doing to 'their' Orto, a lovely quirky Italian thing. I still get 'advice' 6 years later on the Orto we bought off our neighbours though they are jealous over our tomato sucess. Gardening here is often afffected by local trends (what grows best given soil and local climate) so do ask your neighbours as it will make them proud to be consulted; but as a rule tomatoes, Aubergines, Peppers, Beetroot, and salad leaves all grow very well here, also look to your local plant suppliers for local trends.

You have an allotment in Posillipo? My God - you're going to be growing some very expensive veg, but I'm sure the San Marzano tomatoes will adore the view!

One thing you will find is that Italians are very keen to plant seeds etc at the right phase of the moon. I can't remember the times but the info will be around somewhere. The Puglia Posse used to have a gardening calender with all this info, don't know if its still there. Stribs This may help

As Stribs says, the moon plays a huge role, according to many, as to what you should plant and when. There are many books around but also a monthly gardening magazine, sorry can't remember its name off hand, but easily available in any edicola, which has a monthly calendar literally telling you what to plant on each day for that month. Our neighbours used to stop their cars, just to tell us we had planted something on the wrong day and no matter how good the crops, they would apparently have been even better had we planted on the correct day!!!!!! Well, we'll never knowcheeky!

Thanks to everybody who replied to my post on looking after an allotment. Since I posted it we have planted out our veg (including 106 tomato plants!!) and have indeed had many words of advice from our neighbours/owners of the plot/ friends and fellow gardeners! I've learnt everybody does things differently and has a strong opinion on what's righ and wrong; when to plant, when to water; how to rotivate, how to space plants etc.etc.etc. But it has all been done with good humour and the feedback is that they are impressed with our commitment to the plot, so as long our plants produce some veg this summer I shall be very happy! P.S. the allotment is not in Posillippo (I wish!) but in Castel Volturno a much poorer town 30 mins north of Napoli!  

I know it fairly well - had a little place between Cellole and Piedimonte and know the whole coastline from Gaeta down to Naples.  Castel is a bit erm... how can I say... disadvantaged, but I'm sure the soil there will yeild fantastic produce - in abundance. What on earth posessed you to plant 106 tomato plants?  Are you going to supply the whole area with Passata?  wink

How many tomatoes !!! I take it you're a professional passata producer then. We only plant 10 to 12 plants and it gives us enough tomatoes for the year and enough for loads of Passata. Wish you well in finding jars for that amount.

In reply to by Pat H

I just realised I got a mention here.  Thank you.  Anyone having any specific questions, do get in touch via my blog, I don't tend to visit the forum so much these days.smiley

I think that's a good number of plants if you wish to make enough passata to last you a year.  We did 80 plants (San Marzano) last year and it wasn't enough by a long way.  Our elderly contadino neighbour has 120 San Marzano plants in for his passata.   I can't imagine how 10-12 plants could provide both normal tomatoes for eating and enough for passata?  We grow 12 in the polytunnel (a mix of cherry & tigarella) and that's perfect for eating plus giving away the odd handfuls to friends & neighbours who like the fact we grow something different.  This year we've switched to Roma for our passata plants - something of a trial. Good luck with the Orto, you'll find it very rewarding I'm sure.  After learning from those around you for a couple of years, don't be afraid to try things your own way and I'd honestly try and ditch all the chemical stuff that they love to spray on everything.  There are other ways of doing things! :)

I shouldn't  of worry about the phase of the moon as I ignore it completely without too much trouble. Although the locals do deem it of great importance. Double-digging is great if it doesn't kill you first.  Constant useof the hoe (sharp!) is good provided the ground is reasonably soft. Before sowing I have to use a mattock to make any impression but after that everything OK. I assume you have no wild boar or porcupines as they will need fencing out. Don't forget some basil to go with the tomatoes. Good Luck! ( failing that keep a very close eye on what your neighbours are doing)  

Well, the plants are doing well, and we have taken onboard all the advice given. We are constantly inspected by our neighbours, the people that own the allotment, the guy who has a strip of land next to ours and the lady next door. All provide advice and encouragement, and tell us how well we are doing in our first year! Yes Castel Volturno is disadvantaged to say the least and not nearly as posh as Tuscany (more Mafia, mozzarella, prostitutes and rubbish) but it is a great base to get to the Amalfi Coast/Pompeii/Ercolano/Vesuvius etc, etc and you can't fault the friendliness of the people! Must dash - now got to sort out IMU payments, insurance for the motor on our boat,  disputes over permission for buildng work because of a jealous neighbour etc.etc.etc. All part of living in Italy - hey ho! And yes we read up on as much as we could before we moved here and keep doing our research over here - but much of the intricacies and bureaucracy of Italian life are beyond even the locals understanding!!

Next time you're down Amalfi way, ask someone how to get to a little village called San Lazzaro in Agerola (the hills behind Amalfi)  Take care on the road up and when you get to San Lazzaro, walk through the village and down the hill to the Punta.  I'll say no more - you can thank me when you get back.  wink

I hope you do, cus it will be worth it.  Over the years I've given tons of people little hints and tips and I never  know if they ever take me up on them - but for some reason, I feel you might just do it. If you do go, try not to go at the weekend.  Take a camera.  Enjoy.