When I took on my allotment in April 2011 the furthest end of my strip had the greatest number of weeds including nettles and 'horsetail'. This ground also seemed to have been left uncultivated for the longest time, if indeed it had ever been dug at all. This is where I chose to place my shed, water butts, compost bins and seating area. In front of these I placed some horticultural membrane (left over from a relatives garden landscaping) to suppress the weeds with the view of getting some raised beds up and running for this year (2012). I've made some rough frames using gravel boards giving me two rectangular beds (approximately 9 feet by four feet). This year I'm putting strawberries in one and will try some tomatoes in the other - I noticed with interest that these two crops were the highest money savers for Jono at http://www.realmensow.co.uk . I propagated some strawberry 'runners' from my small patch at home (not sure of the variety); the tomatoes I aim to grow from seed, 'Cherry Falls' a cherry tomato variety I grew last year in pots outside. These plants formed compact bushes which I think will be ideal to keep them low and sheltered. Once I've dug the beds again in the spring and sifted out as much of the weeds as I can, I'll grow the tomatoes and strawberries through the black membrane in the hope this will suppress the more persistent weeds which will no doubt emerge from the depths I can't hope to reach.
In front of these beds I will be planting some rhubarb (from my garden also, variety unknown). I will dig up, divide and transplant some crowns in early spring. Next to this I will plant a gooseberry bush (I have some which I grew from cuttings and yes you guessed it, I have no idea of the variety).
I have some other space to devote to permanent crops - herbs, salads and perhaps flowers (to attract pollinating insects) and this is where I took the opportunity to do some recycling. Surrounding my small town are many country roads which unfortunately attract a certain type of human who regard countryside and fields as a wastleland appropriate for dumping any unwanted items or rubbish. The bare hedgerows allowed me to see that from the gate entrance to a field someone had dumped a number of old tyres, simply thrown them over the fence to run down the field and into the hedge. These I retrieved and arranged near my shed to be filled with soil/compost suited to the plants they will hold e.g. light, free draining soil for Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and thyme or richer, moisture retaining soil for herbs such as parsley. Might see if there is any spare paint in the garage to spruce them up a bit.
Thanks for reading.