overgrown allotment, where to start?

(36 Posts)
howiwonder Thu 01-Aug-13 20:34:55

we have recently acquired an allotment which i was initially thrilled about but now slightly nervous. its overgrown but i dont think its too scary, just long big grasses and weeds but not brambles or anything.

so we are procrastinating about getting started, we have a really hectic few weeks with holidays and visitors etc so DH is telling me we will just have to leave it til Sept. We are teachers so we will back at work then (although im part time) so I dont think thats a particularly good idea either. Also Im itching to make a start!

My question is - what should we do to make a start, especially as we only have a couple of days next week free and then we are away on and off til late aug. my thoughts were to hire a strimmer and cut it all back at least? or will this just grow immediately back if we dont touch it again for a couple of weeks? there seem to be varying ideas on rotavators when i search online, some say its a good thing to do and others say not to. i have also read about covering it up with carpet to kill weeds but not sure if this is a good thing or not?!

we are complete hopeless allotment newbies so grateful for any advice forthcoming. TIA

mistlethrush Mon 09-Sep-13 15:13:19

The benefit of the weed membrane compared to the damp proof membrane is that it lets moisture through. So if you want to grow fruit bushes, you leave the membrane down, cut a x where you want to plant, dig hole, plant bush and pin the corners back together.

I've got rocket which has self seeded from last years pots into the edges of my patio, it has looked (and tasted) lovely this year, so that's a good idea.

I'm planning to strim (well DH is doing that part) this weekend. But first I'm going to dig out a load of rather spindly looking potato plants in the hopes of finding a few spuds under there. We've discovered a raised bed in the long grass too.

As others have said, definitely don't rotovate! I also second covering most of the allotment with dense membrane and working section by section. If you have lots of bindweed, the roots go quite a way down, so you'll need to dig deep to get them out. Same with mare's tail.

I grew potatoes first on my cleared areas. They have a lot of foliage, so supress other weeds and break up the soil nicely.

If you want to encourage bees, plant some borage (starflower). Attracts loads of different varieties of bees and you can eat the flowers in salads - taste of cucumber!

Kernowgal Mon 09-Sep-13 21:35:41

Rocket flowers are really tasty too but in a sweet way - the nectar is like honeysuckle.

I'm cracking on with mine - have been gradually digging over the bit that had been covered over with membrane, planted lots of herbs in one corner and sown green manures on the bits I've dug. They're coming up lovely. The membrane that I've taken up I've used to cover over the grassy other half; also hoping to get some big cardboard boxes from work to put on top over the winter. Just need some old tyres or something to hold it all down.

Have received positive comments from the old boys on the site so am feeling v pleased with myself!

I've also made a plan of what I want to grow and a basic sort of design, which is helping me to work out what goes where and which bits I should cover and which I should sow with manure or leave alone. Already got some of my favourite cut flowers, anemone coronaria, on order to plant ready for the spring smile

Oooh, my garden is about to be ripped up and replaced with four beds for growing, you lot are making me antsy.
If no one minds me butting in with a question, - my 'allotment' will be new, as I'm having some local boys to get rid of the brambles, stones, glass and other detritus that make my garden and replace it with beds- will I need to cover for a season or two? Obviously the soil will mostly need to be bought and brought in so I was hoping to get gardening asap, but I'm worried about the return of the bramble and weeds if I rush. any more advice?

Well, I dug out 3lb of potatoes yesterday, DH has strimmered it all today and it isn't looking too bad. Need to start planning now (and order the black membrane). Green manure is a good idea.

Pregnantpause - not sure about the brambles - I've never managed to eradicate them from the garden, just keep them cut back and enjoy the blackberries. I think you would need to dig out the roots entirely, failing that some pretty heavy duty weedkiller.

mistlethrush Mon 16-Sep-13 11:13:34

Why will you need to buy in the soil? My raised bed is filled with soil which had been part of the lawn but which I dug out to create a bog garden (and some semblance of drainage for the lawn). Its heavy clay - I've improved it with some things and compost but its ideal. Did take a while to get most of the weeds out...

flow4 Wed 18-Sep-13 15:22:18

Marking my place because I'm a newbie too, and there are lots of good ideas and info here... smile I have just moved into a house with a garden - my first since childhood! The bottom half was an allotment a decade or more ago, but there's no sign of that now.

There are borders down the edges, but they're full of weeds: I've already cleared the nettles and bindweed twice - and discovered how quickly it grows back! hmm I've tidied the brambles and planted some raspberries and alpine strawbs. smile

The soil is very shallow in the existing beds - 3-9inches/6-25cm-ish. Any tips for what fruit or veg I could grow in there, if anything, before I get digging new, deeper beds?

flow4 Wed 18-Sep-13 15:23:44

Marking my place because I'm a newbie too, and there are lots of good ideas and info here... smile I have just moved into a house with a garden - my first since childhood! The bottom half was an allotment a decade or more ago, but there's no sign of that now.

There are borders down the edges, but they're full of weeds: I've already cleared the nettles and bindweed twice - and discovered how quickly it grows back! hmm I've tidied the brambles and planted some raspberries and alpine strawbs. smile

The soil is very shallow in the existing beds - 3-9inches/6-25cm-ish. Any tips for what fruit or veg I could grow in there, if anything, before I get digging new, deeper beds?

howiwonder Fri 27-Sep-13 19:04:06

a very late return to this thread - lots of good tips and ideas, thanks!

i hadnt heard of green manures, just been reading up on them. sound a good idea, i might get some as we have about 5 beds dug over, but wont be planting in them all just now obviously - would green manures be the best plan do you thnk?

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