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  • total newbies awarded 1st allotment today

    Hello all
    as the title says we are totally new to this game and have agreed to taking over our first ever allotment. It's on a pretty new site, just 12months old and apparently was a nursery some 20 yrs ago. I had a tour round the site this morning with a guy from the council who advised me there were 5 vacant plots so I had a choice to make in the end it was fairly easy for me to make the decision as 3 out of the 5 had things which put me off straight away ranging from being very uneven/sloping to being close to large mature trees I plumped for the nice flat one slap bang in the middle of the site. Hopefully I've made the right choice.
    Now as I expected the plot is neglected but nowhere near as badly as I envisioned its overgrown with grass and some dock from what I saw. It's approx. 100m sq. Obviously my first actions need to be clearing so I was wondering should I apply a weedkiller and then cover it with a membrane or just go ahead and cover it as it stands without the chemicals. we are on a free 3 month probation period so want to make a good start.

  • #2
    Hi and welcome to the vine. Weedkiller tends to work best when growth is in full swing, I would personally hold off unless you can see lots of genuine thuggish weeds. Also there is a great divide when it comes to weedkiller so don't be surprised if you get comments from other allotmenteers. Have a look around the forum there are loads of great threads with great advice for newbies. Good luck and have fun


    • #3
      Congrats 2oldish! Seems like you made a good choice. Whether you use chemicals is your decision. I would prefer not to. Many people on here recommend covering with cardboard, which is organic and rots down. I haven't tried that yet, though I might do soon because I have a big new area to clear.


      • #4
        Hello and welcome


        • #5
          Welcome to the vine. Weedkiller is not much use after early October, so I'd just cover the plot with cardboard and then stick a layer of manure on top - preferably farmyard, but horse is a close second. It doesn't need to be well rotted since it will have time to break down before you start growing on the plot.
          Then you can settle down and spend the next few months planning what you intend doing with your new estate
          What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
          Pumpkin pi.


          • #6
            Hello you 2 & welcome to the jungle. I'm with Jon on this one unless you are wanting to get some stuff in the ground now, then I would prepare the area for planting & cover the rest to overwinter.
            sigpic“Gorillas are very intelligent, but they don't have to be as delicate as chimps -- they can just smash open the termite nest,”
            Official Member Of The Nutters Club - Rwanda Branch.
            Sent from my ZX Spectrum with no predictive text..........
            KOYS - King Of Yellow Stickers..............


            • #7
              Hi, welcome to the vine!

              I would spend the next few months turning it over with a fork, taking it a bit at a time and getting as many roots out as I can. In the process I would learn about my soil texture and drainage while planning where everything is going to go.

              I might be in the minority here.
              My gardening blog: In Spades, last update 30th April 2018.
              Chrysanthemum notes page here.


              • #8
                I would start at one edge, digging over and removing roots as Martin H said, but cover the rest. Weeds slow down in the winter but until we get some heavy frosts (and all of last winter) they thrive.

                The three months trial seems a little harsh, given the time of year.
                Did they say exactly what they expect you to accomplish between now and January? Our allotments expect 'one third of the plot cultivated in the first quarter, two thirds by the second' but they don't inspect plots during winter months.

                Congratulations on your new plot.


                • #9
                  My view is that newbies need all the help they can get in order to have a successful first year - very disappointing if a Newbie gives up through frustration, lack of time / productivity and so on. As such I would use weed killer at the outset to give you an edge over perennial weeds (personally I haven't used any chemicals [weedkiller / pesticides / fungicides] on my veg since that initial flying-start application of weedkiller, although I do use them on my ornamental garden)

                  As has been said a Glyphosate based weedkiller, such as Roundup, works best when the weeds are actively growing, but I think it still worth doing now anyway, even though the effect will be less than perfect, as it will still have some impact on the pernicious weeds. Make sure that there is no rain for 6 hours after application, and be careful that there is no "drift" in the wind onto adjacent plots from the spray . Don't apply to anything "green" that you want to keep! (Worth checking if there are soft fruit bushes, or Asparagus, planted by the previous occupant)

                  I would dig a few exploratory holes to see how easily the soil can be dug and worked. As the site is relatively new it might be fairly dire, depending on what it has been used for since it was a nursery. If the soil is very heavy and does not break up easily I would be inclined to dig it - in which case I would "bury" the top inch or two of "turf", stripped off as you dig a row and buried face-down in the bottom of the trench you make whilst digging. The "turf" will rot down and hold moisture, and any weed seeds etc. will be buried. The winter frost will help break down the clay.

                  If the soil is light, or easily workable, then I wouldn't bother with digging and just cover it instead. Cardboard (largest boxes you can find, bike and white goods shops are good sources ) covered with manure is good, or just manure and then plan to cover in the Spring. If the manure is fresh I would avoid putting it on the area you want to grow roots like Carrots and Parsnips as it is likely to make them fork, but if in doubt I would favour manure on everything to feed-the-soil and not worry too much about having a crop of carrots that look like gloves! they will taste just the same, be a bit of a pain to peel, but will only win prizes in the Ugly Fruit section!

                  I started out (in my garden, not on an allotment) with virgin ground which was just rough grass. I sprayed it with Roundup, waiting a couple of weeks for that to take effect and the weeds to yellow, then had the local farmer plough it and I hired a large rotavator and cultivated it. I then dug out some paths 18" wide and heaped the soil onto the 4' wide "beds" inbetween (so called "lazy raised beds" - no smart wooden edging back then), and I haven't dug it since - I just put compost / manure on the beds and NEVER walk on them.

                  if your plot has pernicious weeds in it don't rotavate it otherwise every piece of chopped up root will grow back
                  K's Garden blog the story of the creation of our garden


                  • #10
                    If the plot is open (no hedges or fences) plan, I would start by clearing from the main path so that any inspection can see that you are making progress. Also stake out your boundary so you know where your plot starts and ends and so the plots on either side don't encroach on your space, or you on theirs.
                    Get friends and family to lend a hand for the first few weekends.
                    Ask other plot holders what the soil condition is like and make friends. Take all advice offered, but do things the way that suits you.
                    Its Grand to be Daft...



                    • #11
                      Yes, chemicals is a personal choice. I try not to use them, so would do some digging and weeding, so that you get some nice clear dug over patches, and cover other parts with cardboard, weighted down with manure, soil or bricks or something so that it doesn't blow away.

                      There are things you can plant now in any ground you manage to clear in the next month - overwintering onions and broad beans and garlic - and fruit trees can go in over the winter, if you want them (though beware of doing what I did when I got my allotment and plonking loads of trees in in what turned out to be silly places). You can also plant a green manure - something like field beans would look good and not like weeds, if the council is lurking.

                      I would definitely plant something just 'cos it's exciting and then you'll feel that you are on the way (and the council won't dare take your plot off you then!)
                      My Autumn 2016 blog entry, all about Plum Glut Guilt:



                      • #12
                        Welcome to the vine, I cant add anything to what has already been advised except:

                        Enjoy your allotment!


                        • #13

                          I would watch that. It'll be worth every minute.


                          • #14
                            I have an allotment at Rob Lane allotments in Newton-le-Willows. At the allotment site you will find Newton-Le-Willows gardeners association, which is a brilliant place to buy everything you will need for a successful allotment. Membership is £4 a year, which your first purchase will have saved you as everything is bulk bought and the savings passed on to members. If you sign up to the email newsletter they will keep you informed when you can come and buy seed potatoes and onion sets etc.
                            The shop is open Saturday and Sunday mornings 10.30am to 12noon, they close for two months so the last time they are open this year is this weekend the 26th of October, then they are open again in January.
                            Last edited by Fleurisa; 23-10-2014, 12:14 PM.


                            • #15
                              I got my first allotment 70 square metres at the beginning of this year.

                              It was covered with quite a bit of cooch grass, and I knew there were loads of bindweed roots in the ground.

                              I just dug the whole lot over immediately, and sifted thru EVERY bit of bindweed that I could find.

                              Then I left it, and did not cover.

                              I used no weed killer. Not because I didn't want too, I just wanted to see results - FAST!

                              And weedkiller wont remove deep bindweed roots.

                              Took me around 2 days.

                              After I did this, the allotment was a nice clean blank canvas.

                              I stood back looked at it, and I knew 100% that I had done all I could to remove all the bindweed and all the nasties etc.

                              Here are some pics.

                              on 12th Jan allotment covered in grass etc. By 19th Jan, all clear
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by chilli_grower; 24-10-2014, 09:16 AM.


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