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Talkback: Rich pickings

Hi, I myself was a new allotment gardener last year, and I would agree with all the advice given, but I would advise against a rotavator. I found when I used one on one bed weeds like dock and buttercup have been coming up everywhere! As you know these are much more difficult to dig up and eradicate, and it appears that the rotavating cut them up into tiny pieces that all sprouted.

My advice would be to just dig it over and cover until next spring, if you break the beds into reachable widths, say 2-3foot across weeding will be easier! Good luck with it all, it has changed my life!



  • I took on a allotment nov 06 my advice in a bad state cut it down then dig small bits at a time I have had some good crop pots cabbage sweetcorn beans and peas I still have a lot to clear which I will do over winter
  • I was thrilled to take on an allotment at the end of June this year...only to find it was covered in brambles, nettles and couch grass. My husband strimmed the top off and we carefully cut back the brambles (after a bumper crop!). Over the summer we've dug small sections at a time, taking out all the weed roots as we go. After a strip was dug over we immediately planted something in it - lettuces, potatoes, leeks, cabbages, etc. It's a long and arduous task, but the benefits certainly paid off when you can harvest your crops. We've still only dug over half of the allotment, but have all winter to tackle the rest - what a challenge!
  • I agree about not using a rotavator, we just spent hours hand digging which was hard work but we are now so glad that we did. Our plot was totally overgrown last year and now not even a year later we are well on the way to a productive plot, have a look at our blog...
  • I agree with all of the above but only cultivate a small block at a time. If you can get hold of some thick old carpet that would help but turn it over from time to time to stop the weeds planting themselves in the carpet and potatoes is a great crop to break up the ground
  • Thank you. If the weather holds, I will get started tomorrow. The 7-day forecast here on the website looks good.
  • I would agree with the above, I also took on a similar sounding plot late last year. I begged old carpet from people and covered over a large amount of it. This year I had dug over enough for a good crop of potatoes and I am now lifting the carpets and finding that roots from the 'nasty' weeds have been fooled into spreading themselves across the surface making them easy to remove! I gather you should try and use natural fibre carpet and certainly not rubber backed ones as they don't rot down well. Have fun.
  • I am a new allotment holder,its was a very neglected patch. i am slowly winning the battle. my main problem is a large neglected plum tree that was full of very small but very sweet fruit, i dont really want to cut down the tree but i would like some advice about pruning it back, i know it should not be touched in winter but i would like to cut it back to a managble size without killing the tree.
  • I started clearing my allotment April 2007. It was covered in dock and couch grass. I have been digging it over bit by bit covering the rest with old carpet and black plastic sheeting.

    Have grown courgettes,sweetcorn,carrots, runner beans and sweet peas. Thrilled with my first years produce.
  • hi i have also been lured by the allotmemt bug having been given produce from my bosses garden! we have the same problem as lauren and its a very big site the land has been offered to us by a local land owner who had been refused planning permission to build on it. it looks great and we dont minbds the work but he said its brownfield site and i believe that it means it may have had something on it that is classed as toxic, am i right?
  • Good advice from pamela f and jennyc. You may want to use a weed killer to help you on your way there are lots on the market ask advice from your local garden centre and read the instructions carefully. Gardening is hard work but the benifits are very rewarding. Good luck!
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