New plot

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New plot
« on: October 09, 2018, 18:30 »
Hello all

I have found myself in a fortunate position of having my first allotment. It is 8.5 x 14.5 m and has recently been rotivated (rotAvated..?).

I have read that that isn't the greatest option for getting rid of all the weeds and various things growing on the plot but it's what's been done none the less.

As a newbie allotmenteer I am unsure as to my next step.

I know that I need to use my fork and dig in to remove any weeds that have been left behind and get as many bits out as possible.

I don't intend to start doing much this year except make sure the plot is in good condition for planting next year.

I thought to get some plastic cover to stop weeds growing after I've done my best to dig them out. Is that the best option?

Or should I be preparing the soil another way and leave it uncovered.

The other plot holders seem to have grown a variety of fruit and vegetables so the soil must be good.

I'm trying to add photos from my phone but it says they are too large so I'll add them after.

Any other advice to give?



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Re: New plot
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2018, 08:35 »
Morning, and welcome to the forums!

Congratulations on securing a plot, sounds like a good size.

Well some say rotavating chops up the weed roots and spreads them and their seeds around, creating bigger problems later, some say it helps aerate the soil and turn it over quickly. In this game, it's whatever works for you.

I prefer to turn over with a fork, picking the weeds as I go and really going deep for the big roots. I can't double-dig where I am because of a clay layer about 18" below the surface so a light topsoil turn over (8-10") is all I do. In your case you've inherited the plot just before the 1st frosts so blanket covering now might be a waste of time as you'd have to uncover the land again to allow the frost to 'crack' the lumps over winter and break down the soil for next year.

If I were you, I'd go over with a fork picking out any remaining visible weeds then dump a load of manure on it (except where you plan to grow root veg) and leave it at that. Some people may suggest covering with cardboard to block out light and water, never done this myself but sounds like it could work as it rots down and still allows the frost to do its bit.

If any land needs levelling or raising, now's a good time to do it, and also, why not thow a few things into the ground? You can plant certain types of onion, garlic and shallot at this time of the year, and other things too. We threw a few seeds down and some part grown plants in May and ended up with tonnes of veg we weren't really going to grow, a lovely bonus for the hard work done. Also you can plan your rotation, where stuffs going to go and the fun bit, researching all the varieties you can grow!

Good luck, keep us posted with your progress. (",)



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Re: New plot
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2018, 12:44 »
My first thought would be to ask around on site what weeds are common place, is there plenty of marestail, or couch grass, try and find out what state the plot was in before, if the previous plot holder kept it in great shape then worry less with rotivator and also weeds, if not then some hard work ahead but any info will help a lot.
Personally I am not a massive fan of covering, as in winter not that many weeds will grow due to temps and light levels.
As above its time to get the spade and fork out and prepare when you can if the soil allows to get the roots of weeds out and disposed of.
Personaly I would spend winter preparing, bit by bit trying to get it clean then as has been said muck in if you have rotted muck on hand ready. Dont worry about things like chickweed as this can be dug as green manure. If by luck the plot was kept in good condition or you have dug it through I would be tempted to sow some green manure like Rye grass to be dug in when spring arrives.
Punk isn't's underground where it belongs. If it comes to the surface it's no longer's Green Day!



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Re: New plot
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2018, 14:01 »
Hi! Sounds like you have a good start there with your plot. As already said, fork it over, remove any thick white roots (if any), level it, then cover with either well-rotted manure (fresh can contain grass seeds) or another option is mushroom compost both of which will nicely rot down over winter. If you want to plant anything now you can always scrape off the covering when you plant. It's a good idea to ask fellow members what type of soil it is, does it drain well, and don't be afraid to ask them or us for help. Take it a step at a time, don't rush into planting or sowing too early, choose thinks that are easy to grow and ones you like, plan what you're going to put where, and enjoy! 
To fail is a step up on the ladder of wisdom.



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Re: New plot
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2018, 11:32 »
Hi there, I took on my allotment last year September and it was one overgrown mess; with the worst weeds being bindweed and couch grass.  I managed to clear half of it by hand but then for various reasons couldn't get back to the plot until early this  year by which time it was all overgrown again.   When I did the original clear I took all the weeds back home to put in the council garden recycling bins as I didn't want them in a compost bin on my allotment (not that I had one at that point anyway :D ).   Someone had also recommended covering the soil with cardboard but I didn't have enough for the whole area but the area I had covered and then put a layer of soil over was amazing. 

Cut a long story short, I ended up resorting to glyphosate to clear the whole plot - it just would have been too much for me otherwise.  I took a few weeks and more than one application but what a difference it made.  Annual weeds that were shallow rooted and easy to pull by hand I removed like that but the bindweed and couch grass - I struggled hence the glyphosate.   

If you do manage to clear an area - and my suggestion would be do it bit by bit, then cover it is quick as you can, either with fabric membrane or cardboard with a good layer of soil over.  The cardboard will rot down over winter and you'll be able to plant right into the soil come the new year.

Best of luck - it's so well worth all the hard work



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Re: New plot
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2018, 17:35 »
I've had many new plot holders  ask me why our plots don't seem to get masses of weeds and what I did when I took over my plots

and i tell them i use roundup no cardboard no plastic sheets just spray and leave it to die of for around three weeks then dig or in my case plough the gound and leave it to weather overwinter never had any problems with crops after this method and the bindweed and couch grass and all  have all gone

but its all down to ones prefrence I'm not going to tell people how to suck eggs at the end of the day its up to you that's my way but i would never rotavate fresh  weeds in the ground that to me is a no no

but i do know that what farmers call black grass and we tend to call it couch grass is a real problem and to improve crop production they spray prior to cultivation with roundup hope thes commets help you good luck



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Re: New plot
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2018, 09:54 »
I agree Round up or Resolva for any deep rooted type weeds.
If it is light sandy soil cover up with cheap black polythene after the weed killer has taken effect. If it is heavy clay soil it needs to be left uncovered to let the weather break it up.



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Re: New plot
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2018, 10:19 »
Take a look at no dig Charles Dowding,
A woman's place is in her garden.

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Fairy Plotmother

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Re: New plot
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