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Overwhelmed Allotment Newbie


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  • Overwhelmed Allotment Newbie

    Hello everyone….a little about our plot (sorry it is a bit long winded)
    Yes you have guessed it, I am a newbie to the world of Allotment Ownership…. I have for the past 3yrs grown a few bits at home (Pots/Courgettes/Beans/Chard/Spinach/Kale/Beets/Toms) but wanted the garden back as I love flowers. It is not very big so I managed to squeeze things into a couple of raised beds plus salad bits in a VegTrug.
    We acquired our 1/2 plot at the end of July, the original owner had the full plot but at the ripe old age of 93 handed it back to the Council and it is now the 2 plots. We have met lots of lovely people and we are told that Bill used to have everything and there was never a weed in sight (unlike now).
    Best for me not to comment on our adjoining plot, it was taken over after Bill and it’s an eyesore. Ours was taken over by a family who apparently rotavated (NOOOOOOO) then left it!!! So when we got the keys, the grass was knee high, rubbish everywhere…………a complete mess. Apparently saddened to see it such a mess so fingers crossed we can change that.
    So we have cleared the rubbish, started 2 compost heaps, strimmed everywhere, mapped out the beds and got digging. The plot has some established rhubarb, asparagus and autumn raspberries.
    We have 2 large beds that we have dug over (horrendous bindweed) even though we are trying to adopt the no-dig approach. Covered the larger bed in horse manure and heavy-duty black polythene; ready for next year, hoping 7mths should do it good. The idea is to divide these 2 large beds into 5 for crop rotation. Don’t intend on having raising beds or borders … unless anyone suggests otherwise. Poly tunnel being erected in a couple of weeks.
    I know it is probably too late to put anything in the non-covered bed, although had considered onions/garlic but read so many conflicting views on sets v seeds???
    Really looking forward to next year so I can get seed sowing however I am feeling quite overwhelmed by it all. Got all these ideas of what I want to grow but just a tad anxious….silly I know.
    So to anyone who manages to either a) gets to the end of the lengthy post without falling asleep or b) replies; I thank you very much!
    Look forward to hopefully sharing some experiences with you all.
    Vanessa (proud owner of 8b)

  • #2
    Welcome to the vine!

    First thing - don't panic!
    Second thing - don't try to more than you can manage.
    Third thing - never mind Bill.

    I would get a petrol-powered brush cutter and take ot all down (checking there are no plants you want to keep).

    Pick an area you can get into and weed it out. I do no dig, so my next move would be a layer of cardboard and compost on top. But other methods are available.

    I'd then cover the rest with plastic and cover that with woodchip. And worry about that in the future.


    • #3
      Welome along. Mostly agree with Mike's comments.
      Its a marathon not a sprint so clear a bit however you choose (I'm a mostly no-digger) and plant or sow summat there to keep the enthusiasm up. Clear whatever else you can without overdoing it and then cover the rest.
      To be honest you sound like you've got a good plan and have realistic expectations so I reckon you'll do fine!
      1574 gin and tonics please Monica, large ones.


      • #4
        Hi and welcome...

        It’s a marathon not a sprint is a good way of viewing things on an abandoned plot. Cardboard and newspapers are a good way of covering weeds, and the soil will benefit from it.


        • #5
          Good luck.
          I’m sure you will do fine, and never mind the old guard and how bill used to do things.

          We work full time and thus lower maintenance paths - weed membrane covered in wood chip. Six smaller beds for crop rotation, a fruit cage and two polytunnels suits what we like to eat.

          Concentrate on clear, dig out perennial weeds and cover for winter so you are all ready for spring.


          • #6
            I work full time and I have two full sized plots. They're not in perfect nick by any stretch of the imagination (however hard I try!!), but I have lots of growing space and it's fairly low maintenance. Search for Charles Dowding on youtube and you'll learn about his no-dig techniques, which is what I do.
            It's marvellous - I have one huge bed that is ten foot wide, and about 75 foot long, so nearly the full length of the plot, and it takes about half an hour every week to weed it the first four fives months after laying down the cardboard and chucking on the horse manure/compost, and now after seven months, it is half an hour every three weeks or so, that's all that's needed.
            Good luck with it all


            • #7
              Wow... thanks everyone who’s taken the time to read & reply.

              I will take your comments on board! Marathon not a it! 👍🏻


              • #8
                I also found it a bit daunting at first, until I learned to switch off my work mindset (99.9% is not good enough) and concentrate on what I wanted from the plot and judge what I have achieved on those terms (a few hours fresh air and exercise today, a barrowful of weeds dug up, a bed finished, all veg for tonights dinner are homegrown etc).
                Every plot holder will have their own views on what a ‘perfect plot’ should be, but that doesn’t mean that old Bill’s way is the only way. It’s your plot, so you get to choose how you want your plot to be;-)


                • #9
                  Welcome to the vine and good luck with your plans.


                  • #10
                    It's the perfect time to plant garlic and giant garlic. I would get some in over the next few weeks.
                    You will feel that you are making progress with something in the ground.

                    Garlic planting calendar here:

                    Last edited by Scarlet; 19-09-2019, 11:18 PM.


                    • #11
                      Welcome to the vine....nothing is impossible no matter how improbable it looks. One of the most important things is to enjoy it

                      I am not sure that no dig will defeat the bindweed but as I dont use the method I cant be sure, just keep chopping its head off when it appears.

                      Enjoy the benefits of the advice and humour on here and good luck


                      • #12
                        Welcome, and breathe! I have nothing to add to the great advice you've had here, just to say I sometimes get anxious about my plot, too. Usually I post on here, get a hug and some good advice, and then I feel miles better. Sounds like you're doing all the right stuff.


                        • #13
                          Hello and welcome back to the Vine. To be honest, it sounds to me like you're on the right track already. Plus lots of good advice already given. And there was a family on your plot between you and Bill, if I've understood rightly. So any comparisons between your plot as it is now and Bill's as it was then are neither here nor there. It's yours now to enjoy and do with as you see fit.

                          So, I don't have much to say except to concur with Scarlet about onions and garlic. Too late to start onions from seed now, so if you want onions, you'll have to go with sets. They should do very well over the winter and give you a nice crop earlier than spring ones. I'd say give them a go. Also, you don't say where you're located. Depending on your weather conditions, autumn planted broad beans might be worth trying.

                          Good luck. Hope you have a fun and productive time on your plot.
                          Living in north-east Spain, where the sun is too hot, the rain too torrential, the hail too big, the wind too windy and the snow too deep.


                          • #14
                            I'm doing mine in sections, and taking photos along the way so if it feels like I haven't done very much in the time, I can look at pics and see what I have actually achieved.

                            I cleared a couple of beds first, laid bark paths, and put gooseberries and onions in.

                            Then I moved to plot middle, cleared beds, put down borders, laid paths. Tomorrow's job is painting fences.
                            After that I move to clearing the top third of brambles. Leave the crappy job til last!

                            Try making a list of what jobs to do each time you're there, and tick them off.

                            I've probably spent about 15 hours working on it, give or take. I am a slow worker, I don't knock myself out! So I think I've done quite well.


                            • #15
                              Completely agree with Chestnut. My work means I have to be very very precise and I’m a perfectionist by nature. It took me a good 6 months to get come to terms with our plot not looking as perfect as the retired folk who have 8 hours a day to spend fettling with their plots. Despite ours having started as a couch grass, dock and marestail jungle I was still rather overcritical of myself despite the entire allotment committee telling me how well I was doing!

                              Now provided the weeds are down to a dull roar and not smothering anything or seeding themselves that’s okay. The main point is to use it as a relaxing switch off from work stress not to add more stress to my life! And to grow tasty stuff of course. Today’s dinner (excepting two bacon rashers and some cheese that when into our stuffed pepper side dish) was entirely home grown and that feels very good and more than compensated for all the times you feel a bit overwhelmed by it all.

                              My only other piece of advice is to take lots of photos so you can look back on progress, it’s easy to forget how far you have come in the moment of upset when slugs eat all your Brussels sprout plants and your broccoli goes to seed, as happen to me this year

                              Forgot to say I’d be sceptical that no dig would work with bindweed, it seems to rear its ugly head up through any thickness of mulch as does marestail. A chap two along from us tried no dig for a couple of seasons and the perennial weeds loved it (to be fair CD does say all perennial weeds should be dug out before starting no dig). I do what I class as semi-no dig, plenty of compost, horse manure etc but fork out the perennial weeds and to mix in the organic stuff as we are on heavy clay. No double digging or the like using a spade.
                              Last edited by Bluenowhere; 20-09-2019, 09:44 PM.


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