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Thread: Feeling overwhelmed - please help

  1. #1
    Nanny Chicken is offline Germinator
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Romney Marsh, Kent

    Default Feeling overwhelmed - please help

    Hi all

    Although I have been lurking on this site and in these threads for some time this is my first post so please be gentle...and please feel free to move me elsewhere if I have posted in the wrong place!

    A bit of background

    I have a five perch plot on Romney Marsh a fifteen minute drive from home. This was a birthday present to me and this is our fourth season. My husband and I both work full time and knew right from the start that we had to take a sensible approach to make the allotment manageable and enjoyable, an enhancement and not a chore! I did lots of reading around the subject and we listened to advice from those with allotments on the same site.

    We hacked down weeds and long grass and strimmed and mowed to get a feel for the space. We decided rather than weed kill and rotavate the whole area we would dig out individual beds to make things more manageable. We have double dug and manured each bed once and now have six individual beds approx 4m x 1m with grass paths in between. We have also dug out an approx 3m x 3m bed intended for fruit (we intended to use our old gazebo frame as a fruit cage.) We have a huge water tank and have set up a drip irrigation system on a timer.

    In the past we have grown potatoes, onions, garlic, beans, courgettes, cabbages and broccoli to some success. I love to grow from seed at home and then transplant young plants into the allotment as yet I have not direct sown anything (not sure if that is relevant or not - but I'm purging so in it goes!)

    The dilemma...

    DH and I are currently going through a massive guilt trip about how little progress we are making just to stay on top of things - let alone the "nice to haves" that are pending. Due to a severe depressive episode I have changed jobs relatively recently and now have to work alternate weekends although I do have one set day off in the week (but don't always have use of the car). This obviously really impacts on our free time and with the best will in the world the unpredictable weather means that whole weekends can be rained off meaning that its a fortnight before we can both get down there again. He has been going down there on his own on the in between weekends (weather permitting) but it seems each time we go it's like starting from scratch with the weeding. We'll have a massive weeding purge, wear ourselves out and next time we go it looks as if we have never been.

    It has been suggested that perhaps we should give it up. I literally feel quite depressed at the thought (hence pouring my heart out in this post!) but have to counterbalance that with how disheartening it has felt this season in particular and the enormous guilt trip with each weekend that passes when we don't visit and the dread of what is facing us when we do.

    Can any of you wise old sages throw me a lifeline? I have been mooching around on here last night and again since 7 this morning and have already thought about getting rid of my grass paths - but that seems like it's adding yet another job to the list. I feel encouraged when I look back at what I have grown in the past and what is currently in the ground so I feel the situation is retrievable I just don't know where to start. It's going to fall mostly to me now to be the strong one and forge a way forward because it seems DH has had enough.

    Sorry this has turned into "War and Peace" - if you are still awake after reading this I would be gratified to hear your advice, suggestions and motivational comments

  2. #2
    Jeanied's Avatar
    Jeanied is offline Gardening Guru
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    In hope, near Heathrow


    I think I'm in a similar position to yourself, NC. I have a main plot and part of a second one - 10 deep beds on the first and some fruit bushes and trees on the second with a lot of weeds. I was forging ahead before the hot spell and then found it too hot to work and the weeds took over both plots. Then the council got a work gang to tidy up round the site and I visited one week to find the whole lot strimmed over. However underneath all that there are my deep beds still, and most of them are quite easy to fork over.

    My solution, for me, is to see if I can get some regular paid help ... all I need is someone to do a couple of hours a week to help me out with the heavier work (I am a pensioner after all ) When I did this a few years ago plot no 1 was a joy to work and took no time at all to hoe the weeds. I am also keen on mulching as much as possible and to that end I have a pile of well rotted wood chippings standing by my plot- they were delivered for free by a tree surgeon I saw working in the neighbourhood.

    One of the best sources of advice can be found in supersprout's thread - will try and add a link to this

    Here it is
    Last edited by Jeanied; 13-08-2014 at 09:45 AM.
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  3. #3
    Nanny Chicken is offline Germinator
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Romney Marsh, Kent


    Thank you for your kind words Jeanie. I have just made tea and toast and am going to spend a few guilt free minutes munching and reading the link to Supersprout's allotment!

    NC x
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  4. #4
    Scarlet's Avatar
    Scarlet is offline Gone with the Wind
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Just over the bridge


    The thread that Jeanies linked is brilliant. Next time you go to the plot arm yourself with as much cardboard as you can find. Cover the lot and weigh down with manure, grass clippings or anything else you can get your hands on. Weed sections at a time and when you do plant up, (same as you, I rarely sow direct ) mulch around your new plants with damp newspapers topped with grass clippings etc.
    Good luck it gets easier over time!

  5. #5
    marchogaeth's Avatar
    marchogaeth is offline Early Fruiter
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    Oct 2011
    Preseli Hills North Pembrokeshire
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    You are obviously tired as well. What are the other plot holders like? Are they at all supportive? How much freedom do you have as to what you can grow? It does sound to me as if you have done all the hard work and might be about to give up just when it might get easier. I'm not an allotmenter but I know how many compromises I have had to make just to fit in round work, It is amazing how liberating it can be just to go - right I won't do that anymore (in my case lunar planting even though I think it is worth it really). For example sheets of cardboard with pumpkins and squash planted through them look great, can cover a huge space and there's no weeding and if you don't like squash you can compost the lot!

    Seriously look at no dig and green manures from now on as well.

    I'm sure there will be lots of advice along over the next few days - don't expect it all today! In the mean time why not update your profile with your location and maybe use the introduce yourself forum to tell us a bit of the more positive side of yourself and your gardening. Whatever, good luck.
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  6. #6
    Dorothy rouse's Avatar
    Dorothy rouse is offline Early Fruiter
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Rochester in Kent


    Hello Nanny Chicken, I'll come back later, but just to pick up on one of your points, I to had 'grass path' and yes they were nice, but high maintenance and the weeds wud encroach into beds, and my strimmer only lasted a year. So I put black weed suppressant down, and chippings on top, ( we are lucky, get them delivered to our site). But this has made things much easier fir me, yes the odd weed will still grow thru the chippings, but easy to pull out.

    I did this during last winter, so started in the Spring feeling more in control.

    I'll be back later.
    Last edited by Dorothy rouse; 13-08-2014 at 10:40 AM.
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  7. #7
    skeggijon's Avatar
    skeggijon is offline Cropper
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    Aug 2014
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    You could try putting weed suppressant on your beds and then making holes in this to plant through since you don't sow direct. This should also reduce water evaporation in warm weather
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  8. #8
    Bigmallly's Avatar
    Bigmallly is offline Think outside the box
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    Sep 2009
    Chilling out in my Tree Nest.


    Hello NC & welcome to the vine. I agree with what has already been said. I see 3 choices:

    1. Give it up altogether (a tough decision to make).
    2. See if you can get a smaller plot that may be more manageable.
    3. Take loads of cardboard & newspaper (maybe black plastic) & cover the areas you are not working on that is weedy. Weigh the covered areas down & when you come to work those areas, the weeds will be almost if not all dead.

    Good luck & like you say, it has to be a pleasure not a chore.
    Last edited by Bigmallly; 13-08-2014 at 11:34 AM.
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