Wondering what we've got ourselves into

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SethL

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Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« on: October 04, 2020, 21:12 »
Hi folks. Not technically an allotment holder but hope that's ok. Just moved to a new house with an adjoining field which we want to turn into partly a wildlife garden, partly a place to keep some ducks, and partly a vegetable garden. At the moment it's mown grass around the edges with a big chunk in the middle that was just left to go wild. As you can see in the highly professional plan I made

I'm pretty excited about it but also feeling quite daunted as a lot of the middle section is couch grass, as well as nettles, docks, and thistles but it's the couch I'm most bothered about. I kind of hate the idea of chemical weed control but I'm feeling like we might have to resort to it at least at the start. That long grass area is about 800 sq metres. The worry is that if we don't go chemical and just opt to dig it out manually, and we only do a bit at a time, will it just come back quicker than we can keep up with? I dunno.

Would love to go for no-dig but as far as I can tell we would have to bankrupt ourselves for the amount of compost we'd need to buy in.

Hoping to be able to post here as we start making progress and would like any advice or tips or just words of reassurance that this is actually going to be enjoyable, heh

Cheers
Paddock plan.jpg
IMG_20200824_151402632_HDR.jpg

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Plot 1 Problems

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2020, 21:17 »
Hello and welcome! That's a cracking bit of land you've got there, best of luck getting it going!

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snowdrops

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 21:57 »
Hi there & welcome to the site. Iím in my 3rd year of no dig. Like with all projects just remember Rome wasnít built in a day. You could start by cutting all that middle bit really short & covering it,cardboard moving boxes ?, then prepare an area with as much mulch as you can afford. Unless you are an experienced gardener you probably would be better going small to start with anyway.
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Yorkie

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2020, 22:19 »
Welcome to the site and congrats on your new project  :D

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days all attack me at once...

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Subversive_plot

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2020, 04:04 »
Another option for killing the grass is heavy gauge plastic sheeting.  Spread large sheets of black plastic over grass that is mowed very short. Weigh the edges down with rock or brick, or bury the edges.  I would leave the plastic in place for months to assure the weeds are dead.  You can then move the plastic to another location and repeat the process. 

Till the area where the weeds are already killed. Repeat until you have cleared enough land for your garden.
I know we are in a global economy because my favorite gardening hat, purchased in the United States, was made in China by a Swiss company and has a label in Spanish.  (They all deserve their piece of the pie, wouldn't you agree? We are all in this world together.)

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juvenal

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2020, 19:56 »
Another option for killing the grass is heavy gauge plastic sheeting.  Spread large sheets of black plastic over grass that is mowed very short. Weigh the edges down with rock or brick, or bury the edges.  I would leave the plastic in place for months to assure the weeds are dead.  You can then move the plastic to another location and repeat the process. 

Till the area where the weeds are already killed. Repeat until you have cleared enough land for your garden.

Great advice. I did this last year on a really weed-infested area. Six months later the only survivor was horsetail - whitened and much weakened. I dug them out individually.

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jezza

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2020, 20:07 »
Hello before doing anything check that the land is not registered as agricultural land with area payments  as this can cause problems eg a couple in my village fenced into a field the farmer who had the field lost payment and the couple had to reimburse him then take the fence down and return it to original use  jezza

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Debz

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2020, 20:35 »
You don't have any contacts that could put some grazing animals on that for a few days? 

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Growster...

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2020, 06:37 »
I'd just do a few 8' x 4' beds, hopefully in the best areas, and start from there.

A good dig-out on a bed would take about two hours at the most, and you'd have a great place ready for stuff for the coming season.

Couch takes ages to dig out, but it's a cowardly plant, so bash it hard as soon as you can! It'll only creep back so bash it again, you'll be fine after that!

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jambop

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2020, 06:57 »
Is the ground accessible for a tractor? If it is it could be an idea to get a local farmer to plough the area after the top has been cut down , he may be able to do that too. With the weeds turned well under you would be able to control them more easily when they re appear. It may cost you but not too much and the ground would be good to go straight away.

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Potterer

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2020, 07:42 »
Sorry but Iíd really advise against ploughing. Couch grass and other perennial weeds will grow from small pieces so by cutting them small you multiply them hugely! Iíve seen other people do this on their allotments and regretting it!

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Blewit

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2020, 08:37 »
Hi Seth, I take it you've already looked at Charles Dowding setting up his plot (it's on youtube).
I turned a 500m2 allotment over to no dig, it was already devoid of perennials so much easier than the task you face (you'd need a cardboard or wet newspaper barrier first) but the only mulch available to me at no cost was wood chips. They need to be stacked for a couple of months to partly rot and really do benefit from a sprinkling of chicken pellets, blood fish and bone or similar prior to putting them down. They have to be parted to get to the soil below when planting and shouldn't be mixed into the soil. For these reasons compost is easier to work with and more effective but the chips were available and got me started.
Re couch grass I read that turnips give off exudates that kills it, haven't tried it but was successful with Mexican Marigolds (Tagetes Minuta). They also give off root exudates and kept my borders free from re-invasion from next doors.
Good luck with it.

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jambop

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2020, 09:17 »
Sorry but Iíd really advise against ploughing. Couch grass and other perennial weeds will grow from small pieces so by cutting them small you multiply them hugely! Iíve seen other people do this on their allotments and regretting it!
Not really if you are going no dig it gives you a chance to level off the ground and get it covered and all the stuff that was on top goes down under the soil. Couch grass is going to be there either way but greatly suppressed by being weakened by turning in first then covering with cardboard etc. Ploughing my not be feasible but if it was my plot and I could get a plough in I would do it in an instant. It will not make the couch any worse as it does not chop up the ground it simply turns the soil over and will make marking out no dig beds, leveling and covering them easier... IMO.

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snowdrops

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2020, 09:49 »
Sorry but Iíd really advise against ploughing. Couch grass and other perennial weeds will grow from small pieces so by cutting them small you multiply them hugely! Iíve seen other people do this on their allotments and regretting it!
Not really if you are going no dig it gives you a chance to level off the ground and get it covered and all the stuff that was on top goes down under the soil. Couch grass is going to be there either way but greatly suppressed by being weakened by turning in first then covering with cardboard etc. Ploughing my not be feasible but if it was my plot and I could get a plough in I would do it in an instant. It will not make the couch any worse as it does not chop up the ground it simply turns the soil over and will make marking out no dig beds, leveling and covering them easier... IMO.

But one of the reasons for no dig is to not turn the soil so that all the fungi & microorganisms stay intact under the soil to benefit your soil & ultimately your plants, so ploughing to get rid of the weeds would negate that
« Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 14:26 by snowdrops »

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jambop

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Re: Wondering what we've got ourselves into
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2020, 10:47 »
Again not really the weeds are going to still break down in the soil. It is horses for courses but personally I would rather be working on what would be a blank canvas than muddling around in a weedy field. One other aspect of turning the soil is ... does he know what is under that lot? No dig does not need to be started in a field my own no dig beds have done very well on ground that has been tilled to death in the past. Each to their own but for me get the top growth off, and compost it the take it from there. I would turn it over if a plough was possible but do recognise that it is not strictly necessary. 



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