New allotment need help ☹️

Hi we have just taken over an allotment and we have zero experience. We have been trying to clear weeds and break up the soil but it’s wet and like clay. Could we damage it while it’s like that ? The plan was to get it all done then cover till we are ready to work on it. This is a pic of the little bit we have done next to what it was like. Any advise would be greatly appreciated 😊
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  • Well done, what size is the plot?

    We took on a plot this year and this is what it was like!


  • It’s 25x25m. We are just trying to work out if we dig the soil while it’s wet will it damage. Don’t want to do all that work and possibly cause more damage 
  • That's nice and square!

    No you won't damage it. The damage is from compaction of you walking on it, but if you're digging it all over then that's the opposite of compacting it. 

    Have you looked at 'No Dig?' That's what we're planning to do, when we get enough compost together.
  • We looked into no dig at first but a friend told us on our plot digging would be better to help drainage and as it hasn’t been looked after would help get the nutrients all through the soil 
  • Digging...  great exercise, but only really necessary when the soil is compacted.  Nutrients don’t need digging in, nature takes of that side of things.

    I’ve had to do initial digging on both my plots to remove the worst of the weeds and sort out compaction, but now doing no dig
  • Yeah are soil is super compacted. We are hoping that by digging we can just start fresh 
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 2,401
    If anyone suggests rotovating it - don't.  It will break up the soil quickly and easily, but it will also chop the roots of perennial weeds into little bits, and each bit will grow a new plant, and you end up worse off than when you started.
  • Yeah we are 100% not rotovating it, we had lots of people suggest it but luckily looked into it first 
  • There  is a long running thread on the forum about allotments - lots of info and advice. It would be worth your while to take a look - even if your specific query isn't covered, put a post on there and someone is sure to respond :)
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 2,551
    If it’s hard, compacted clay you do need to give it a good digging over to begin with. So long as the soil is not so wet and claggy that huge lumpy clods are sticking to your fork, it should be ok to work now, just don’t stand on it afterwards as you will undo all that hard work!  Dig in as much well-rotted manure and as much compost as you can afford and that will loosen up the texture and make it more workable in future. If you do that now, it will have settled down nicely by the time you are ready to grow veggies next spring. More weeds will sprout up, just lightly work over the surface in early spring, remove all remaining weeds, rake it well and you are ready to sow and grow!

    As well as this forum, your fellow allotment holders will be a fantastic source of advice, will know the growing conditions and when is best to sow or plant out various crops. They are usually very happy to help newbies, so don’t be afraid to nobble them and ask questions. 
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