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Thread: Newbie allotment- any advice

  1. #9
    Greenleaves's Avatar
    Greenleaves is online now The Weed Fairy
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    I get most of the wood I need from reclamation yards, not only cheaper but better quality. FSC timber tends to rot and twist quickly because it's from fast growing pines.
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  2. #10
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    Snoop Puss is offline Early Fruiter
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    No absolute need to spend a fortune on wood for raised beds from the outset, or at least not all your raised beds. What I did at the start was rake soil from my paths onto the beds and then rake out the worst clods from the beds and arrange them along the side to make very low walls (maybe only a few cm high) around the edge of the bed. This has proved very useful, as I keep changing my mind about my plot, and these earth walls can be more readily shifted and the beds remade than if you've committed to wooden side walls. I've been a bit surprised how often I've changed the width of my beds, for example. I started off with the recommended 4 feet or so, but as I'm quite short reaching the middle was a bit of a struggle.

    I've stuck with these earth walls, as they serve my purpose very well. Plus, while they might disintegrate, at least they don't rot.

    One thing you could do is come up with a plan and work out which beds you want to use first and start on those first, while covering everything else up with whatever you can find that's allowed on your site. Check before bringing in carpet, for example. It used to be recommended, but it's terrible to shift once it's served its purpose. Gradually uncover your beds as you need to start work on them. Don't try to do everything all at once.

    Digging is hard work. No dig is possibly more expensive (as it's not easy to find enough material to provide deep enough cover for free) and also hard work though maybe not as much as digging (you still have to distribute all that compost and the like). Rotavating in weeds isn't a good idea, as some will regrow from the tiniest bit of root, meaning instead of a single plant you could have lots, all sprouting from chopped up roots. Also, you will find yourself rotavating in weed seeds.

    What's your soil like? Can you rope in some friends to help you out with the digging in exchange for surplus veg later in the year? For example, plant a few courgette plants and you could feed an army! French beans are also very prolific.

    Anyway, congrats on getting your plot, welcome to the Vine and hope you have a brilliant growing year.
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  3. #11
    rary's Avatar
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    Snoops post reminded me of how they used to build walls using turf to make the kail-yard and they lasted several years before needing any repair
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  4. #12
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    ^Kail-yard is a new word for me. Thanks.
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  5. #13
    MavPT is offline Germinator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoop Puss View Post
    No absolute need to spend a fortune on wood for raised beds from the outset, or at least not all your raised beds. What I did at the start was rake soil from my paths onto the beds and then rake out the worst clods from the beds and arrange them along the side to make very low walls (maybe only a few cm high) around the edge of the bed. This has proved very useful, as I keep changing my mind about my plot, and these earth walls can be more readily shifted and the beds remade than if you've committed to wooden side walls. I've been a bit surprised how often I've changed the width of my beds, for example. I started off with the recommended 4 feet or so, but as I'm quite short reaching the middle was a bit of a struggle.

    I've stuck with these earth walls, as they serve my purpose very well. Plus, while they might disintegrate, at least they don't rot.

    One thing you could do is come up with a plan and work out which beds you want to use first and start on those first, while covering everything else up with whatever you can find that's allowed on your site. Check before bringing in carpet, for example. It used to be recommended, but it's terrible to shift once it's served its purpose. Gradually uncover your beds as you need to start work on them. Don't try to do everything all at once.

    Digging is hard work. No dig is possibly more expensive (as it's not easy to find enough material to provide deep enough cover for free) and also hard work though maybe not as much as digging (you still have to distribute all that compost and the like). Rotavating in weeds isn't a good idea, as some will regrow from the tiniest bit of root, meaning instead of a single plant you could have lots, all sprouting from chopped up roots. Also, you will find yourself rotavating in weed seeds.

    What's your soil like? Can you rope in some friends to help you out with the digging in exchange for surplus veg later in the year? For example, plant a few courgette plants and you could feed an army! French beans are also very prolific.

    Anyway, congrats on getting your plot, welcome to the Vine and hope you have a brilliant growing year.

    Thanks so much for this advice. I like the idea of paying for labour with fruit and veg too!

  6. #14
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    Hello Mav and welcome from me too
    As you can see, we all do things differently and there is no right or wrong way. Sometimes pick and mix works best when starting out. Concentrate on clearing a patch for the fiddly little plants, like carrots and lettuce and cover some with cardboard, weighted down with buckets of water, and, jab holes through the cardboard to plant courgettes and spuds.

    Rome wasn't built in a day and a productive allotment doesn't appear overnight. So be patient, every thing you grow and eat is a victory. Over time, these little victories add up and become more frequent and you can look back and wonder why you felt so puzzled about where to start.
    mcdood likes this.
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