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New allotment overwintering

In May I took over a very overgrown allotment.  I am now on my 3rd dig and need to know the least painful way of overwintering regarding weeds.  I was going to cover it all with teram but I have since been told that black plastic sheeting is better.  Also do I use manure  now or in spring, I was going to use pelleted chicken manure as I couldn't get hold of the raw stuff of any kind



  • What type of soil is it MrsH?  Covering with anything which will eliminate light is what will kill weeds - it really doesn't matter what - if you hold it up to the sun and can't see light through it then it's fine.  I would save your pelleted manure until the Spring.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • MrsH11MrsH11 Posts: 6

    It's a very sandy soil.  Someone had told me that if I used teram it would wash away any nutrients.  Many thanks for your input.

  • I use cardboard  (where I can) - it rots into the ground so doesn't cause waste. 

    Black fabric is good because it blocks out the light, but lets the heat through.  

    Some issues though with using fabric:

    • It's a slug hibernating heaven!
    • Most pernicious weeds (like couch grass) won't be bothered by the fabric and will grow as soon as you uncover them.

    If you roughly dig over (and leave clumps) the freezing weather should break your soil up into a nice tilth ready for the spring.  

  • You need to get some kind of organic matter (compost or manure) on top of the soil for the worms to pull down into it.  The sooner the better.  This will help prevent nutrient leeching in the future.  

  • Last Autumn I covered with rotting (not well rotten) horsemuck at a depth of about 8 inches (it took a while to cover the plot).  In the spring I used a three tine cultivator to mix the top of the soil.  

    No weeds, better soil structure and fertiliser too for no money and no digging.  

  • I couldn't get fresh manure so I got some bags of manure from Marshalls which is much lighter and easy to use. Its about £20 a bag.  I use chicken pellets just before planting or during the growing season.

  • MrsH11MrsH11 Posts: 6

    Great information all of you, many thanks for your input, it is much appreciated, I am very much on a learning curve and appreciate all the help that I can get.  I am still trying to get hold of fresh manure but no luck at the moment.

  • Hi MrsH

    We have a horse riding school quite close and they deliver it for free (else they have to pay for disposal).  Don't get any during the summer - all out to pasture - but get loads of it in the autumn to spring.  It is worth asking your allotment if it would be okay for this kind of thing to happen.  If it just get to phoning around.  You can also do the same with tree surgeons and wood chippings.

  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 Posts: 1,813

    Research the theory of " Green Manure "....and a specific plant Phacelia which is one of many you can consider using

    You dig the plot and can sow the seeds now up to the end of October but be quick

    The roots open up the soils air ways and takes up the area so it limits the area that weeds can grow in / on

    You then later cut off the top half of the plants and let it stay on the soil and then at the later stages dig in the to the soil to further "manure " your soil

    I have just broadcast...thrown the seeds about a bit....onto a Horse Manured bed and onto a bare bed so I can see how they compare

    Verdun is usually right and I bow to his knowledge but take a chance and make mistakes and plenty of confidence !!


    Everyone is just trying to be Happy.....So lets help Them.
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