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Anybody an allotment newbie or oldie willing to offer support?

(58 Posts)
nettie Mon 17-Aug-09 12:00:03

Just thought we could offer each other support, advice and most important in my case encouragement smile

We've had our allotment since march time, we were really lucky to get one as they have long waiting lists where we are, and have have done pretty much nothing to it. It is completely overgrown, got loads of stuff dumped on it and is a real mess.

Well me and the DS's spent an hour down there this morning an have brought back enough rubbish to fill our dustbin and have at least made a start, now just need to persuade DH to get down there with his brushcutter or show me how to use it!

MamaKaty Mon 17-Aug-09 12:53:48

I don't have an allotment but i do have a veggie patch and would love to swap tips! I started this year in March for the first time and so far have harvested baby potatoes, enough peas to feed everyone on the street and hundreds of carrots!
It's so exciting seeing things grow from a tiny speck (After I planted them, I felt like they were my 'secrets'!) into food you can actually eat!!
Good luck getting yours cleared and ready to go!!

GardenersDelight Mon 17-Aug-09 16:40:13

I've had my lottie for 4 years and love didnt buy any veg when I went to the supermarket last week grin Its hard work but sooo worth it

snorkle Mon 17-Aug-09 16:49:00

We got ours last October & it was a lot of hard work clearing it. Now though it's brilliant - producing lots of yummy veg, so do persist. Clearing it is the hardest part. Can you aim to get enough of it cleared to plant some overwintering onions, peas and broad beans & maybe garlic in October? You will feel less demoralised once there is actually something growing in it & then in the spring you will get a nice early crop to spur you on.

MamaKaty Fri 21-Aug-09 12:24:07

Ooh I didn't know you could grow peas over the winter! The peas have definately been my favourite this year so I'll be able to look forward to an earlier crop next year now!

nettie Mon 24-Aug-09 11:53:54

Me and the DS's have been up again this morning and filled another 5 bags of rubbish. We need to find a way to make fence higher so people stop chucking rubbish over.

DS's managed to get to the back of the plot and found some brambles so they they were impressed smile

puddinghead Wed 26-Aug-09 14:19:17

Our allotments site has an association and we have skips on site at regular intervals. If yours does could you have a word and you might get some help with the rubbish clearance (at least if you didn't have to cart it home with you?). Or if it's council run what do they do in terms of helping with rubbish clearance or keeping others from using the site as a tip?

One of the pieces of advice I realised was worth heeding (think it was Bob Flowerdew) is, don't try and do it all at once. Clear a bit then get it covered (old carpet, thick cardboard, black plastic). Weeds are so resilient and it gets overwhelming when you think you've made good progress then they shoot up again soon as you put your spade down.

I covered a large patch for a season and a half (it was couch grass) and everything died off leaving lovely earth where I had my spuds this year. Maybe this autumn get some fruit bushes and dwarf rootstock trees planted to use up part of the plot.

A book I've found really useful and pragmatic is Lia Leendertz's 'The Half Hour Allotment'. Gave me lots of encouragement after I'd had ds2 and got a dirty plot notice from the council!

Cluckadoodledoo Wed 26-Aug-09 14:29:05

Hi, great idea!

We got ours in March too.

We dug out so much junk including an old cooker (complete!) tons of glass and other debris dozens of wheelbarrows full. Then we glyphosphated a lot of the perenial weeds as it was covered in bindweed and thistle, nettle and ground elder.

We worked out that we could clear a third in springtime (was very overgrown) and planted spuds in a big chunk to clear.

We got a ton of old carpet from Freecycle and covered over the remainder to keep the weeds in check. I then decided to plant through the carpet and plant a patch of squash, a patch of sweetcorn and a few tomato plants which are all thriving.

Then we have methodically been doing a metre per weekend clearing out weed roots and digging. we spend about 4 hrs there over the weekend and about 2 in total midweek.

In Autumn we are going to clear under the carpets and plant fruit there.

We now have a plan and a half cleared plot and it is no longer daunting!

Best bet is definately to cover up what you cannot clear. our neighbours haven't and theirs is completely out of control and tehy are on the point of quitting I think.

mollyroger Wed 26-Aug-09 14:31:45

I've had an allotment for year but still very much learning...
Happy to help, offer advice or simply leap about in a cheer-leadery style!

My allotment is my most favourite thing in the world

plantwoman Wed 26-Aug-09 15:10:23

Can I join - we have had our current allotment for a year, but we have had other ones in the past.
I had my 3rd child in december, so it has been a difficult year trying to keep on top of the weeds, but we are getting there!
I will be putting in my garlic in october - i bought some bulbs in France on holiday, so going to try using the cloves from those!

dingdong05 Fri 28-Aug-09 10:37:02

it's the weeds that are driving me to boredom. this year (its my 1st) i've left the plot for a couple of weeks x2 and the size of the weeds both times was incredible! in effect i've had to do the back breaking clearing twice now, as well as the everyday type of weeding and it's getting out of hand again!
learn from my mistake and listen to cluckaadoodledoo- little and often!

aside from a couple of bags of tatties, i brought home our 1st harvest yesterday- broccolli, beetroot, tatties, courgettes and turnips. i even swapped a huge courgette for a few onions too, so i'm thrilled with my haul!

even my ds (5) has decided he likes the allotment now!

btw, another thread offered this link for sowing times, and it looks quite useful for newbies.

i'm off to see if anyone has tipes for getting rid of catterpillars in my broccolli- i picked out loads but found more after cooking which totally put me off blush

Cluckadoodledoo Fri 28-Aug-09 10:41:32

Nice article in the Guardian about the
eccentricity inventiveness of allotment holders, how we are the ultimate recyclers etc.


What inventive items are you using? Any tips etc?

I mentioned our carpet clearing/planting scheme.

Our fence is made with old railway boards from years ago that give timetable and route details. And we too have rows of bottle cloches!

dingdong05 Fri 28-Aug-09 11:19:53

i tried the old newspaper seedling pot thing but the paper bloomed a lot with mould, so am not sure if that's ok or not...

i have done the plastic bottle cloches, but with my clay soil i found it tended to pull up the soil and plant when i pulled it out!

snorkle Fri 28-Aug-09 22:56:11

Recycling is an allotment tradition I think. As well as carpets we have used...
old pallets for compost heaps;
coffee grounds from the work coffee machine for slow relese fertiliser;
old tyres for raised strawberry beds;
tin cans on strings for bird/mole scares;
and built a cold frame built from more old pallets and a freecycle window unit.

I don't think the mold on paper pots matters dingdong - I found I got far more mold on peat pots than on my recycled newspaper ones and none of it seemed to do much harm.

Cluckadoodledoo Sat 29-Aug-09 10:32:57

We have a stack of old pallets and are making netted frames for cabbages and cloches bit by bit.

Have an old water butt too that is filled with nettles and water to make plant food.

Didn't know about coffee grounds. Will have to see if I can get some!

catinthehat2 Sat 29-Aug-09 10:48:47

I would be somewhat wary about the carpet trick unless its old style hessian backed carpets. Foam backing can leach chemicals into the soil.
Also, you've got a huge storage/disposal problem with any large pieces of soggy carpet. Much easier to use black plastic to kill off an area. You can then fold up small and reuse in future if a section gets out of hand weedwise.

snorkle Sat 29-Aug-09 10:49:58

They're quite good, but can make the soil a bit acidic if you use too much.

We use old dustbins for comfrey tea too.

A couple of weeks ago I was given an old greenhouse from freecycle which I'm totally thrilled about.

Cluckadoodledoo Sat 29-Aug-09 13:49:31

yes they have to be hessian backed!

Our site gets skips 2-3 times ayear so easy to dispose of but am planning on chopping into path width strips to use as weed suppressants betwwen my beds.

Black plastic is good too but the carpet was free

catinthehat2 Sat 29-Aug-09 15:26:30

SKIPS envy!

Cluckadoodledoo Sun 30-Aug-09 11:54:35

l;ast ones went a week after we got the plot so most waste had to be taken to the tip! Saving next lot of clearing until the October skip. It fills so fast!

MayorNaze Sun 30-Aug-09 12:15:46

i love my allotment any tips of what i can put in over winter gratefully received

think the key to success and maintenance is little and often - an hour a couple of times a week is far more effective then a whole morning once a month (once everything is cleared and up and running that is).

friends of mine do the latter and wonder why it is so hard...hmm

meltedmarsbars Sun 30-Aug-09 12:21:54

You don't need to clear the place where you are going to put soft fruit - it will grow between carpet, which will smother the rest of the weeds.

Winter: plant soft fruit (bare rooted) eg rasps, logans, black and redcurrants.

Shortest day: plant garlic to be harvested on longest day nxt yr.

Flowering bulbs (eg daffs, narcissi) for cutting in spring.

jumpyjan Sun 30-Aug-09 12:26:42

Can I join - we got our allotment in April and have had a reasonably successful first summer (for newbies). But am finding it very hard work and with a new baby have neglected it a bit in recent weeks.

I too am watching with interest for tips on what to put in over autumn as it will be pretty empty soon.

Am I right in thinking raspberries go in over autumn?

snorkle Sun 30-Aug-09 13:56:28

Other than onions, broad beans (aquadulcea), peas (type suitable for overwintering) and garlic. Winter lettuce is worth a try and chard. Radish grows fast so you should be able to get a crop of these in before it gets too cold. The most cold tolerant carrot is a variety called 'Eskimo'which crops Nov-January. You might get away with planting these now esp. if we have a mild autumn.

Autumn/winter is a good time to plant soft fruit - strawberry runners, rasberry canes etc. too.

sorky Sun 30-Aug-09 13:59:02

had a lottie for 5 years, we love it grin

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