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Allotment re-opened... advice...

Hi folks,

Hope you're all staying safe.

As I think I posted earlier in the year my partner and I took on an allotment earlier this year. With bad weather and the council closing them temporarily due to the pandemic we've not been up there as often as we'd have liked.

We went up yesterday and found a lot of the clearing we'd done had been undone by the recent sunshine and weeds had sprouted up everywhere :(

After a few hard hours in the sunshine we managed to clear out two of the raised beds. These have previously had potatoes in as I found a few tubers whilst pulling the weeds and turning the soil. The soil is a clay type and the beds are only about 15" deep.
We mixed in a couple of wheelbarrows of compost and covered these with a weed prevention membrane in the hopes of keeping new weeds/wildflowers away until we plant something in them. 

The absolute amateur question now is - given it looks like there have been potatoes in here previously is there anything we should avoid planting this time in the same area? We were thinking of using one of the beds for onions and the other for a couple of runner bean towers and a couple of courgette plants. Any thoughts/concerns?

Also - one of the neighbouring allotment owners suggested we might want to hire/buy a cordless (no electric available) tiller to speed up the process of clearing/preparing the other raised beds. He'd done this in frustration when he took the plot on as the soil is such hard work...  Does anyone know if any of the battery-powered tillers are worth investing in?

Thanks all,



  • SmudgeriiSmudgerii Posts: 185
    IMO to be able to use a tiller the beds would have to be a quite some size.

    You could plant anything including spuds, it’s unlikely that spuds have been in there for the last 2 summers.

    I’d avoid the membrane and cover with cardboard instead, which can be topped with compost and planted through ( all organic matter and no plastic to worry about ).
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,634
    I'd agree that cardboard - minus any tape and staples - is better than weed proofing membrane and cheaper and will biodegrade.  Normally in a crop rotation potatoes are followed by legumes so peas and beans and/or root such as carrots and parsnips and beetroot and brassicas the year after, assuming a 3 crop rotation.

    This is designed to reduce the build up of diseases and pests specific to a given crop and also allows for soil mimprovers such as manure to be added at the appropriate point of the cycle.   

    I wouldn't use a tiller or rotavator in there as it will chop up and make cuttings out of roots like bindweed, dandelion, couch grass and just make the problem worse.   Cover it all with cardboard to exclude the light but let in rain and let the soil organisms and lack of light do their job on the weeds.

    Have a read of the info on this site for further info and help - 

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • stevek_bathstevek_bath Posts: 51
    Thanks everyone. 

    A long weekend up there with a strimmer has made a bit more sense of the plot (a lot of very thick grass removed). 

    Really appreciate all the tips - and the Charles Dowding link was helpful too. 

    I suspect at the rate we're going we may not get much growing up there until next year - but I'm hoping to prove myself wrong. My other half is off work next week - we may surprise ourselves how much we achieve in a week...

    Take care,

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