New to allotments

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Wellington

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New to allotments
« on: January 11, 2020, 21:59 »
Anybody like to wade in and share their knowledge with someone new to allotments (but not to growing). Iíve always been lucky and had space to garden in, but obviously you can do as you please then. On an allotment, itís not so straightforward. Especially with no sensible means of transporting things! 

Iíd like to build raised beds (I like having the beds and the paths separated) but Iíve previously made them out of old scaffold boards, and they were rubbish. Fell to bits after a few years. I considered half railway sleepers, and much as I would love them, I canít really get them in (theyíd be delivered on a pallet truck, which wonít get up the hill and Iíve no way to transport them up. They wonít go in my little car!)   So what else is there, timber wise? 

Which leads to the question of what I can get in to put down on the paths. Iíd prefer a hard surface, but again, getting stuff in is an issue. In the past Iíve had woodchip, which was great for the first two years, and then made lovely compost for the weeds to grow in (all over my paths!  Bind weed, too, wretched stuff) so I put landscape fabric down and we added chippings, which looked lovely, cost a fortune and are probably not really the done on the allotment. Iíve considered grass, although I dislike mowing, and there is no power. But Iíd quite like to rotavate as it could do with levelling off a bit. Would I have to turf it then (I donít really do lawns, so Iíve no clue about grass)

Iím going to buy a shed and get some help to put it up, and there are some conifers which are not to my taste that need to come out, so there will be some machinery involved there. So it would make sense to get all this basic stuff sorted while Iíve got some help around with the heavy work. I donít mind doing it, but thereís a limit to what I can manage on my own without it taking a month of Sundays! 

Iím grateful for all thoughts and input. Lovely as it is to design a plot, Iím finding it a bit of a minefield with the access issues.
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wolveryeti

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2020, 06:32 »
I'm surprised your scaffolding boards fell apart so quickly. Tanalised ones should last for ages. I wouldn't use ex-railway sleepers - the tar can leak into the soil. Wickes do tanalised sleepers that are safe for planting that you could use for not that much money. They are softwood so it's feasible to carry them one at a time.

My own view is that black membrane + mulch (e.g. woodchips) is the way to go on paths. I wouldn't contemplate grass - I'd worry about it leeching nutrients from my lovely raised beds!

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snowdrops

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2020, 07:55 »
Iíve got slabbed paths, collected 2nd hand, over time & just laid on the soil. As for raised beds as I got in to no dig I found they  arenít recommended as they give a hiding place to slugs,snails & woodlice. Iíd already got long narrow beds & find it all works out very well & saves on the cost & upkeep.
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ches

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2020, 10:19 »
I have landscape fabric with wood chip for my paths works a treat and once the woodchip has broken down i will use it as a mulch and add more wood chip - probably worth noting that we get woodchip delivered free at our site and I get off-cuts of landscape fabric free from work.
Ches

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rowlandwells

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2020, 19:39 »
i must say i tend to agree with the reply from wolveryeti because wellington i made my raised beds from reclaimed scaffold boards and yes it took me a bit of extra time building the beds because i painted all the boards and there been allotments  over two years and still going strong i made 20 raised beds in total and I've just maid another quite large wooden frame for my raspberries with old scaffold boards

as for your paths we put landscape fabric and chippings [free]  on our paths between the beds but chippings don't last for ever and we replace them every year where needed any weeds get the roundup treatment chippings to me are the best and most cost effective way for allotment paths

you will need to sort out a  way  for the the transport problem although if you get a shed that will probably sort some things for tool storage a good relaxing chair our landlord does not permit any sheds on the plot so i take my tools and rotavator down there on my tractor but i don't use the tractor every day if i only need a couple of tools or a few plants i use the car

then there's the conifers well once there gone there gone and you must admit one you've got the plot round you can pat yourself on the back what your done little and often wellington

wellington your topic has really made me so disenchanted :D :D i feel there's something i haven't done rite on the allotment anyway good luck with the allotment project


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Eblana

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2020, 00:01 »
Hi Wellington, I had the same experience with Scaffold Boards, I have been replacing my raised beds over the past two years using pressure treated decking boards that I got from a local reclamation yard which are working much better than the scaffold boards.  I left the paths between the beds as grass.

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Wellington

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2020, 10:36 »
Thank you for all your replies, I really appreciate it.

If you don't raise the beds, how do you keep the grass from creeping in over time?  Or the wood chip, if you go that route. I don't think the beds need raising, as the soil is OK, but I've always found a boundary to be helpful between the bed and path. I love how grass paths look, but I'm concerned about maintainability. There is a petrol mower kept in a container, but I think you have to get someone from the committee up to open it, which is going to be an extra hassle to sort out, and then I won't mow often enough.

I may need to reconsider anyway, as I've had a budget setback, so I don't think I'm going to be able to get the (new) sleepers in before May.  I have a feeling there is a pallet full of old roofing slates I could use, but I find them quite fragile. I can at least get them in the car on my own, though.

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rowlandwells

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2020, 17:41 »
roofing slate that's anew one on me wellington  :unsure: as for your grass as I said in my previous reply a small hand sprayer with some roundup up the sides of your paths will keep the grass down all summer that will mean you will only need to us the mower one cut per time if you get what I mean  ;)

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Yorkie

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2020, 20:33 »
Thank you for all your replies, I really appreciate it.

If you don't raise the beds, how do you keep the grass from creeping in over time?

I had couch grass paths  :ohmy: between my beds; the beds weren't raised or edged.  I got some fairly decent quality weed membrane and put it down for the path, and weighted it down with bricks.  It took a couple of years for the grass to stop growing out from under the path, but it did the job.  The paths were still going strong a number of years later when I moved plots and left them for the new tenant.
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days all attack me at once...

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Wellington

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2020, 21:42 »
Even with walking on it?  I found it wore through really quickly without something on it. Still, it should last a season or two, and I can always put more down on top.  The budget set back is temporary, so Iíll be able to top them off with jumbo woodchip later on in the year. I suppose I shouldnít be so impatient!

The scaffold boards lasted about four years, I think.  Iíve no idea if they were tanalised, the scaffolders who did the house left them behind. To be fair, I had to do a lot of furtling around in the beds trying to eradicate the bindweed (which bred under the paths, and grew into the beds from all sides. I never got rid of it)

I have especially chosen a plot with no bindweed, so it shouldnít be so bad here. I think Iíll make membrane paths (I have plenty) and I will curve it over, down into the beds to prevent too much weeding.  I am big fan of intelligent design saving maintenance. I hate it when you have a never ending, tricky job that could have been completely prevented if only someone had designed the thing properly to begin with. (Like the idiot who rotavated all that bindweed into my plot!  I never forgave him)


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Yorkie

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2020, 22:32 »
Yes, the paths were still going strong after probably 6 years - it does depend on the thickness you get.  Mine wasn't that expensive, only 1.5m wide (or possibly even 1m wide) but it didn't fray or get holes in it.

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Yorkie

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2020, 22:34 »
(Like the idiot who rotavated all that bindweed into my plot!  I never forgave him)

We had a tenant who (against our advice) hired an expensive, heavy rotavator, to tackle his plot.  Yes, he rotavated an entire plot's worth of couch grass Ö  :ohmy: :ohmy: :unsure:

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Wellington

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2020, 10:38 »
Excellent, Iím making progress. Paths = membrane for now, tucked into the beds.  Wood chip/slabs and edging later as funds And transport allow. Rotavator = no, Iíll put up with a slope. Iíll still need to get the conifers out and the shed up though. I can live without the storage, but Iím going to need the water catchment.

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Yorkie

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2020, 17:42 »
Sounds like a plan!

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Plot 1 Problems

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Re: New to allotments
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2020, 18:41 »
Good luck with it. I kind of miss the challenge of reclaiming a neglected plot!



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