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starting a plot from scratch: realistic?

Hello everyone. I've just signed up and I don't really understand the system here so I hope i'm doing the right thing in starting a new thread. 

I've decided I want to grow food (vegetables mainly)! How wonderful. i'm so excited. 

I have the opportunity to get an allotment in my village. The plots are all completely overgrown with at least shin height of long grasses and stuff. 

I want the opinions of some other gardeners: Can I do this? Can I make that into a plot to grow things on, and can I do it so that I will be harvesting things in this coming year?

Some naysayers have thoroughly dissuaded me, saying it's too much work and little will come of it, but I've got the bug and I want to grow! Surely it can work out and I can get at least a decent amount of say 3-7 crops in the spring and summer?

I won't be in this place for longer than a year though, so it all comes down to that: is it too much work to start this and then just leave. Can I expect a decent amount of veg out of it? 

Thank you for helping me!


  • SussexsunSussexsun Posts: 1,444

    dont listen to the doom merchants plenty of people on here have taken over overgrown allotments and are now producing decent yields of fruit and veg. if you are not afraid hard work and have a little patience now is the ideal time to start as you have the winter to clear the grasses and weeds ready to start sowing in the spring.

    some allotment owners on here have thriving plots with greenhouses, sheds, water collection etc all installed.

    i will have a search for you to see if I can find their threads and put links up for you to see what is possible

    To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 22,169

    I think an allotment, especially if it is to be organic, is a long term commitment as you strive to get the soil and conditions and fertility and crop rotations right for things too grow well.

    However, in a year you can still achieve quite a lot and get some returns.   Beg, borrow, hire or buy a strimmer to cut down all the long grass and weeds but be careful to leave anything perennial and good such as fruit bushes, strawberries, asparagus, artichokes.

    Then put down a layer of cardboard on the rest and pile on well-rotted compost and/or manure or bought in mushroom compost or council tip compost as you can.  Make it a few inches deep.   The cardboard will keep the light off weed seeds and roots below and will also break down naturally without pollution.  This method will save you lots of digging and allow you to plant quickly.  Watch last week's episode of Beechgrove Garden on-i-Player but be quick before it's replaced.  It has a slot on no-dig veg plots and how they crop better.

    Then you can plant Japanese onions to grow over winter and produce a crop next July, winter brassicas such as kale, purple sprouting broccoli, spring greens and maybe even some sprouts if you like them.  Leeks can go in now and also garlic.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,924

    the simple answer is yes of course you can, but it will take a lot of work.

    start small, first strim everything - keep an eye out for perennial vegetables that might have been left(rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus etc,) and any fruit bushes that might be hiding.

    then I would get coverings on as much of the plot as possible, cardboard, black plastic, weed suppression fabric (we used to do old carpets but they have too many chemicals in them now) and anything you can't cover will be your starting point.

    so the uncovered areas, you have three options

    - strim it then spray it with weed killer - its actually getting late to do this now as it needs warmth to work properly.

    -or you cover with cardboard and then 6 inches of compost/manure and plant straight into that - its called the no dig technique - look up Charles Dowding he does this technique

    -or you have the hard graft of digging over and removing EVERY weed and root and incorporating organic mater - compost/manure etc. before you start planting

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 2,903

    The no dig / raised bed thing is brilliant. I would gradually colonise the plot with that approach, to keep from being overwhelmed. Keep the rest strimmed to prevent weed seeds.

    I would be thinking hard about taking it on for just one year though. A shame to put in the hard work and then have to give it up.

  • SussexsunSussexsun Posts: 1,444
    To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.

  • I just want to thank everyone for their kindness and generosity in sharing your advice! A bit late I know..

  • I've just taken on a new allotment, two in fact. Check out my videos of them at

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