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Another new plot thread...questions, questions


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  • Another new plot thread...questions, questions

    Hello again,

    I have taken on a new plot as the one I had 5 minutes walk from my house was a complete nightmare. I spent weeks digging out rubbish and rubble only to come down after 2 weeks away to fine a nice lush lawn of mares tail covering everywhere I had just dug. I then noticed it's pretty rampant across the whole site. I was so disheartened and ready to give up but I got a call from a site about 10 minutes away and I could come down and take a pick of some plots.

    So I got a nice plot, a bit overgrown but with a lots of potential. Also it had a shed (well a shed shaped structure). The site itself is lovely, everyone is chatty. There are toilets, a shop and use of lawmowers and strimmers are free. I signed up immediately.

    I have been down both days this week getting on with things. On Monday I had a good scope of the plot and it's OK but as I am next to plot with bees no one really comes down this way so there has been some random dumping on the plot (mainly old carpets which had mice living in them till I moved them) and the previous owners liked plastic but seemed to forget where they put it. The back of the plot is beside railway tracks and this is the most overgrown part of the plot. Ivy has taken over, I could see a rusty BBQ among other things underneath the stuff. The shed is a death trap so I am going to have to knock it down, I was hoping to patch it up but my hand went through one side when I leaned on it and the roof fell down when I opened the door.

    First thing I did was prune (actually chop with one of these - any advice on sharpening it?) the tree which was overgrown and a nuisance. I also hacked away mountains of ivy which I later realised was shielding my plot from the railway. The site has free lawnmowers and strimmers on site so I borrowed a strimmer and cut back half the plot.

    Back down there today and I bagged up all the ivy I could also I raked up the strimmed weeds and bagged them up as well. Behind the ivy I found two old doors which as soon as I moved them the paint fell off and scattered everywhere, i also found loads of lengths of plastic water pipe and about 20 8ft lengths of metal pipes. When I moved onto to dig some of the plot I noticed the little fronds of the infamous mares tail!!

    As I said the plot backs onto a railway line, on one side I have a nice old couple on their plot and on the other side at the front I have millions of bees on half a plot (not met the owner of the bees). At the back end of the bee plot is brambles, 6ft high brambles which are creeping onto my plot and mixing with the ivy to create some immovable chavvy plot dwelling entity.

    After all that I have some questions.

    I want to create a compost heap (using pallets) in the back corner right down beside the brambles on one side and the railway on the other. The ground here is covered with carpet and crap. I intend to clear the carpets obviously but I am undecided about the ivy. Personally I hate ivy but it does at least shield me from the railway tracks. Would there be a major problem with a compost heap surrounded by ivy on one side and brambles on the other?. I think there was some effort on the part of a previous owner to suppress the ivy and brambles by covering the ground in carpet but the roots under the carpet I pulled up are thick and quite healthy. Also there are foxes in the brambles and a lot of mice in the ivy/carpet section.

    I have only strimmed half the plot would strimming the rest spread more mares tail?

    I will post some pictures tomorrow to give you a better idea of what I am on about.

  • #2
    Congratulations on your new plot. You seem to have your work cut out. The best way to sharpen your billhook is with an angle grinder, a file or even on the edge of a piece of sandstone.

    Look forward to the piccies!
    My Majesty made for him a garden anew in order
    to present to him vegetables and all beautiful flowers.- Offerings of Thutmose III to Amon-Ra (1500 BCE)

    Diversify & prosper


    • #3
      Mares tail thrives in open ground, but hates being shaded. Often the best treatment is to shade it out by growing taller plants around it. Strimming off its competition and exposing it to the sunlight is the worst thing to do.

      Ivy and bramble may be a nuisance, but they are very important wildlife habitats, esp nesting birds. Try and live with it, just keep it under control. Also bear in mind it is illegal to disturb nesting birds.
      All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


      • #4
        The Brush hook looks like it is a modern version of the old fashioned billhook. The usual way of sharpening that is with a tapering, cylindrical carborundum stone, often called a scythe stone as it is used to sharpen those as well. Try an agricultural suppliers or traditional ironmongers, if you can still find one
        Alternatively buy a largeish, say 10'', half round file. Use the round side for the brushnook and the flat side for your hoe, it will cut through weeds much better if it is sharpened regularly


        • #5
          Here are some photos so you can see what I am dealing with:

          The Tumbledown shed:

          Standing at the shed looking back down the plot (this was just after I strimmed a few of the beds:

          This is where I want to put my compost heap. To the left of the picture is a half plot of brambles and to the back is the ivy covering the railings. The pile/mound in the picture is just carpet and rubbish piled up which I need to move and clear. Everytime I lift some a bloody mouse darts out. Those this spot look OK for a compost heap? Any issues putting it next to ivy?

          This is the other side of that heap. This side the ivy was completely covering everything and it took me a day to clear it down. I found loads of metal pipes and loads of rubbish in there. I will need to level this section and take down the shed:

          So there you go. I have managed to get some scaffold boards but they are all either 6ft or 4ft. I was thinking of making up a load of 6x4ft beds with them.

          Can ivy be composted?


          • #6
            Ivy would take ages to rot down on a compost heap...but it burns beautifully!

            You made your plot sound like a disaster area but it's glorious! Loads of potential there.
            No problems siting the compost with ivy and brambles but you'll have to watch they don't creep in and invade.
            The shed might not be beyond saving - could you dismantle it then nail it back together more sturdily?
            Marestail I either spray/paint with Roundup or ignore it a pull it up where it irritates me, but I think you have to get along with it to some extent as it's so difficult to get rid of.
            Congrats on the lottie!


            • #7
              I'd say it is a handsome plot. With maretail, I find the best way is to dig all roots out when you dig the beds, pull as much as you can if you can't dig. As others say, it is hard to get rid of it but you can keep it under control.


              • #8
                Thanks folks.

                I am quite happy with this plot. There is a good bit of rubbish burried at the back of the plot but I am slowly clearing it away. But the site is so nice and the locals are very friendly and welcoming it makes it all easy.

                The shed is beyond repair. I had to dig out the bottom on one side and the wood isn't completely crumbled away. Almost every single side board is rotten and the roof is also gone. It would cost me as much in wood to fix as it would for one of those £99 B&Q jobbies.

                I am not expecting to get much in the ground this year as I am also looking for a new job at the moment and that takes precedent.


                • #9
                  unless anyone can suggest a cheap way to rebuild/repair the shed:


                  • #10
                    Marestail... would you believe it I am actually looking for it to make a "soup" to spray potatoes and tomatoes as it contains silica and prevents blight. So save some for your lottie pals.Typical I cannot find the weed for love nor money!!


                    • #11
                      I have managed to secure a load of scaffold boards but they are all 6ft long. I think I have enough to make 12 6ftx6ft (or 6ftx4ft beds) but I am thinking there is not much point making such small beds.



                      • #12
                        Hi Funstuie - I had my beds made at 3ft 6" wide so I can reach the middle easily from the side paths without treading in the middle. I have had the length done to fit the plot - but I don't like to have to walk too far to get round the other side! So they are roughly 8 foot long.
                        Attached Files
                        Whooops - now what are the dogs getting up to?


                        • #13
                          Got chatting to one of the old guys on the site and he told me to get myself down to a local farm. They sell manure at 50p a bag (but you have to bring your own bag, spade and fill them yourself), so I set off and found a local farm, asked about manure. The bloke showed me the pile and left me to it. While filling the bags I was thinking "this stuff is a bit fresh" anyway I filled 15 bags and got them into the back of the car. The bloke said "buy us a pint" as payment so I gave him a fiver.

                          Went back to the allotment and barrowed the bags onto my plot (which is at the opposite end of the site to the gate) and the old boy came up and checked out my work. He noticed the manure was a bit fresh and asked where I got it. I told him, he laughed and said I should have gone to the next farm. So I set off again and bagged up 15 more bags of well rotted manure from the correct pile, by this stage I was knackered and the woman in the shop took pity and only charged me £2 for all the bags. So I headed off back to the allotment and barrowed all the bags onto my plot. I was completely knackered and in agony by the end of the day.

                          I now have 30 bags of various stages of rotted manure on my plot though. Plus the 10 bags of compost from the council.


                          • #14
                            Stuie: do a test for aminopyralid before you spread that manure everywhere.
                            Last edited by Two_Sheds; 08-06-2010, 07:16 AM.
                            All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


                            • #15
                              I have finally got a new job starting next week. So I have been down the plot everyday this week (I have arms like a body builder now) trying to get it sorted but the weather has not been on my side.

                              Not one day when I was down there was there a committee member about so I could borrow a strimmer and lawnmower to clear the paths and front of the plot so that will have to wait till the weekend.

                              I got a load of old scaffold boards in short lengths (8ft, 6ft and 4ft) so I made up some raised beds - 2 8ftx5ft and 4 6ftx4ft.

                              I read about the Lasagna method which sounded perfect as I am not sure how much time I will get on the plot for the next few months other than weekends and the odd evening. I'm not sure I did it right though.

                              First I dug a small trench for the raised bed to sit in (I'm not bothering with stakes as the weight of the contents should keep it in place), I situated the bed and filled in the gaps in the trench. I then put down a layer of cardboard (box from our TV) and then put a load of well rotted manure on top and watered. I am thinking there should be more layers. I don't intend to plant in them for a few months so will they be OK?

                              I got the 2 8ft beds done (16 bags of manure!!!) and one of the 6ft but I need more manure which I am going to get on Sunday. I checked with a few people on the plot and they have said the rotted manure is fine, they have been going there for years and have never had any trouble with it. So I am using that and have left the unrotted stuff in a pile to rot down.

                              The foxes are having a great time digging the new beds though and they keep leaving shoes, gloves, footballs and rubbish all over my plot. They are currently living in the brambles to the side of my plot and I can see where they go in an out all the time as there is also some food packets and other rubbish round the entrance.


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