How to start an allotment

I was surprised  to see no mention of Charles Dowding's 'No Dig' approach in this piece on the website. It does mention covering with cardboard but then  goes on to mention digging and double digging. I am new to this method but have seen results and have stared 'no dig' across all my raised beds. Always room for other approaches!


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,256
    Good luck to you.  We're heading this way in our new veg plot apart from first digging out major weeds with deep roots such as thistles.   

    They've been trialing No Dig on Beechgrove and Jim is so pleased with the results so far they're extending it.  So far they have compared dig and no dig on established, previously cultivated veggie beds.  This coming season they're talking of doing it on unprepared ground.   The series should start again around the beginning of April on BBC2 on Sunday mornings - unless you can get the BBC Scotland and catch it on Thursday evenings.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for getting back. Glad to hear more about it.
  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 703
    I would try the no dig method but it's easier and cheaper for me to dig the plot over than to procure or purchase tons of compost or manure each year.
  • I certainly haven't used tons of compost to give me a good layer. I use leaf mould and compost I have made in addition to bought compost. I suppose I look at it as an investment- once done I just need to add another layer each year . Appreciate it costs to buy compost but it certainly  makes best use of my time not to have to weed!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 53,221
    To be fair, the article only deals with 'starting an allotment', taking over an overgrown plot which was formerly an allotment ... and coping with the types of perennial weeds that quickly infest such plots (bindweed, couchgrass etc).  Double digging is only mentioned in relation to compacted soil ... hopefully raised beds should not be troubled by compaction. :)

    I've definitely seen Gardeners' World programmes  advocating No Dig veg gardening where possible; they've taken their cameras to visit Charles Dowding and he's talked about his methods on the programme.  :)

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 1,740
    I really rate Charles D, so good luck with your raised beds. Sadly I cannot practice his no dig method myself. I have raised beds because my thin layer of heavy clay on rock does not provide sufficient growng depth. However, very persistent bindweed means I have to laboriously double dig them at the start of every season to hoik out as much of the menace as possible before sowing, then deeply mulch, to give the veg seeds a chance to get going. It seems to grow out of the bedrock itself so total eradication is not possible without resorting to strong weedkiller, which, gardening organically, I am naturally opposed to using. Seems totally mad to double dig raised beds, but such is life!
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,256
    We have that strain of bindweed too Nollie.  Much more persistant and deeper growing than the stuff we had in Belgium.  Sometimes I think the roots must go through to China!

    We're gradually establishing raised beds on which we pour cheap multi-purpose compost when it's on sale at half price at the local store.  We also use cardboard and old compost form pots and our own garden and kitchen waste compost.   This year, we'll have our first leaf mold that we bagged up two years ago when we first came here.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 1,740
    It certanly feels that way, Obelixx, I’ve dug out roots nearly 2ft long but still not got to the bottom of it! 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,256
    Ours are not only deep but they corkscrew so unraveled like knitting they become very long indeed.  The ones down to 6 or 9" deep are white and fairly easy to spot.  Below that they are brown so trickier and the perishing things branch like mad.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • floraliesfloralies Posts: 384
    I don't want to hijack this thread but we have the same bindweed here. This article is interesting reading!!
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