Allotment - feeling a bit overwhelmed

(8 Posts)
Crosbybeach Thu 16-Jul-15 11:53:46

Any tips?

It's a full size established plot with raised beds, I've had it 4 years and I do really love it - but at moment am just feeling slightly over whelmed by it.

I think I need to make it more low maintenance...between the beds there's weed suppressant with bark, but the weeds have started growing in the bark, easy enough to hoik out - but there's a lot!

But it's round the perimeter of it that it's really a bit out of control, I put in some permanent planting like roses, fruit trees round the edge, and then a hawthorn hedge down one side. But the outside is encroaching and there's grass all in the hedge and the permanent planting. Don't want to kill my stuff with weedkiller and can only strim so far without damaging stuff.

Need to put the time in for a permanent solution - but not sure what it is?

shovetheholly Thu 16-Jul-15 12:09:38

This time of year, everything grows so quickly doesn't it? A full size plot is also a huge area to manage (I have what my council describes as a 'full plot' but it is actually only half the size of the old-fashioned ones). So not surprising you're feeling a bit overwhelmed.

You sound like you've done a lot of the sensible things already, like weed suppressing membrane on paths. Maybe get rid of the weeds and add another layer on top to make life easier on your paths? It's not a permanent solution, but a thick layer of mulch will obviously help keep weeds down under your permanent plants too.

I know this is not exactly a magical suggestion (I wish I could just wave a wand and make weeds disappear!!), but I honestly think doing a small amount very regularly is tremendously helpful. I have been trying to hoe anywhere with bare earth on my plot every week. It takes me no more than a couple of minutes to do a bed that way and it keeps things like bindweed down. However, I have been neglecting the side boundaries of my plots, and yesterday I had to spend 40 minutes doing a short stretch that was full of nettles and thistles. It suddenly became a really big job, so I know exactly what you mean!!

shovetheholly Thu 16-Jul-15 12:34:23

PS Come join us on the allotment thread - it's great for motivation! I need some advice on my root crop failures!! grin

Crosbybeach Thu 16-Jul-15 15:49:36

Thanks shove I'll come over to the allotment thread for some inspiration and motivation. And sharpen the hoe...

It's a huge plot, which I originally shared but my co-tenants lost interest, and my OH can only be persuaded up a couple of times a year to actually do anything useful. I'm v reluctant to give up half as it doesn't easily split up due to the way its laid out - but I might have to. I'd keep the bit with the pond and the shed!

The beds aren't too bad, though I do take a very bee friendly attitude to self seeding marigolds and borage.

The sides are more of a project though! Surrounded by retired plot holders whose plots are immaculate...

shovetheholly Thu 16-Jul-15 15:54:19

oh oh oh - I can't believe this didn't occur to me before, because it's obvious... in fact, so obvious that you have no doubt already thought of it. But just in case... have you thought about using a third to half of it for fruit (site regulations permitting). Things like currants, berries, rhubarb, dwarf trees, need a lot less care than veggies.

Crosbybeach Thu 16-Jul-15 16:29:41

It already is about a 1/3 fruit etc! Big blackcurrant glut about to happen - I'll be on the Food and Drink boards asking for recipes soon...only so much blackcurrant jam/vodka a girl can make.

And the fruit bit isn't so bad, I strim the grass round the bushes, which doesn't take long every couple of weeks in the summer and husband is happy on one of his visits a year to clear a circle round the bushes and spread manure.

You were absolutely right with the little and often comment, I'll try spending 15 minutes or so every time I'm up there clearing a bit more round the edge and putting down weed suppressant. And it will eventually get there.

Or possibly napalm...

shovetheholly Thu 16-Jul-15 16:43:51

Mmmmmmmm blackberries! That sounds like an amazing glut to have. grin

Another idea- what about filling four beds with perennials - maybe some globe artichokes, jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, walking onions, and some of the more unusual productive shrubs like sichuan pepper?

I wonder if there are also ways to get a new tenant who could help you with half of it. (It is a LOT for one person to handle). Have you put up a Facebook message? There might be someone out there on your friends list who is thinking about it, but feeling a bit daunted and lost. (Or even a friend of a friend). You sound lovely and like you absolutely know what you're doing, which means you'd be the ideal person for someone keen but new to gardening to meet.

ethelb Sat 18-Jul-15 18:55:19

We had similar issues last year and decided to really tackle it this year. We have black plastic under the woodchip paths. We still have to pull out the weeds that grow down the sides of it, but it is much less work. Our woodchip is pretty thickly laid too and we do it about twice a year as it rots down.
We strim frequently too. I have to admit I did give in and weedkiller the tougher spots round the edges and it has helped immensly in getting on top of it. I didn't 'agree' with it either, but honestly think we will only have to do it the once now we are on top of it.
Could you try hiring one of those flame thrower weed killers for a day to do the edges if you really can't stand weedkiller?

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