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Thread: Newbie allotment- any advice

  1. #1
    MavPT is offline Germinator
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    Default Newbie allotment- any advice

    Hi all, Iíve been reading some great stuff on the forum but wanted to introduce myself.
    Currently just taken over an allotment for the first time and have to admit quite daunted.

    Would super appreciate any advice as I try to learn more in this exciting world of Growing.

    I have a 6 rod allotment in West London and would appreciate thoughts / advice on the following.

    1: some of the area is covered with grass. How do you dig it up? Wait till dry? Turn it over whilst wet? Compostable?

    2: was thinking of raised beds. Would you put a ground cover to stop weeds coming though into the raised bed or is the groundsheet for the walkways?

    3: asparagus.... Iíve been told it could take 3 years to go from planting from seed to eating. Is there a quicker way?

    4: I feel I have to get everything down to just bare soil before planting and it is a bit of a stressor, Iíve seen people use cultivators then lay ground sheets? Is this a good way? Or is it best to just to not focus on getting a blank canvas?

    5: One of the main things I wish to grow is tomatoes. Do you recommend a greenhouse or poly tunnel?

    Any advice to all my ramblings would be super appreciated.

    Thanks in advance
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  2. #2
    Mark_Riga is offline Rooter
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    Hello Mav and welcome. There are as many ways to cultivate your allotment as there are grains of sand on Blackpool beach. A lot depends what you want to do. The main ingredients though are time and enthusiasm but don't try and do everything at once.
    When I have a new patch of grass to cultivate, I do it over a couple of years. I just turn it over with a spade 1 spade deep just before I plant it up to give whatever I plant a head start over the grass if it tries to come back - not many probably do it like this but it works for me. I then plant things with big leaves e.g. early potatoes, courgettes or squash. I would then use a hoe to keep the worst of the weeds down until the plants can fend for themselves. After harvesting, I dig again with a fork removing as much perennial weeds as possible.
    Asparagus: you can buy roots or crowns if planed this spring could give a small harvest in 2020 - but the area they are in does need to be cleared of perennial weeds. So you could buy a few crowns now and plant some seeds so you get a bigger crop in 3 years time.
    tomatoes would be happy in a greenhouse or polytunnel, again doesn't need to be done all at once and there are varieties that are happy growing outside while you plan and get a feel for your plot.
    Last edited by Mark_Riga; 30-01-2019 at 10:07 PM.
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  3. #3
    SarrissUK's Avatar
    SarrissUK is offline Cropper
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    Hi Mav, welcome!
    Don't be too daunted - that takes the fun out of it
    I'd start with making a list of all the veggies you like to eat. Then grow them!

    To answer your questions in turn....
    1. I wouldn't dig. I'd cover rectangles of the grass in the size you want beds with anything that breaks down - this is called no-dig, and if you google for Charles Dowding you can learn all about that. Some would say you have to dig, some say you have to double dig, some don't dig at all. You'll find what works for you

    2. I wouldn't use any kind of permanent sheeting, because what can't come through from underneath, veg can't grow through either. I prefer gardening 'au naturel' and the thickest I'd put down is cardboard.

    3. Yes, you can buy bigger roots/crowns, but they tend to be much more expensive

    4. No, getting to bare soil is a lot of hard work. You CAN dig - do one bed at a time... or cover the worst bits in black plastic to kill the weeds growing to make things easier... or consider no-dig

    5. Tomatoes will be very happy in both a greenhouse and a polytunnel

    Have fun with it!
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  4. #4
    Mr Bones's Avatar
    Mr Bones is offline Early Fruiter
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    Hi Mav, congratulations on getting your allotment and welcome to the Vine.
    In case you don't get cleared in time to put up a PT this year, we grow Mountain Magic toms outdoors and usually get a good yield (they're blight resistant). Marketmore cucumbers do well outdoors too.
    Enjoy your plot and take lots of photos to look back on, you'll soon forget how overgrown it was at the start.

  5. #5
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    Greenleaves is online now The Weed Fairy
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    Welcome to the vine, enjoy the benefits of the advice and humour

    I don't hold with no dig, not because I think it is wrong, I just enjoy digging. I may be wrong but I am sure CD said certain weeds need removing before you cover them if you use the no dig method, perennials like nettles and docs.

    Whatever you decide, just enjoy it
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  6. #6
    rary's Avatar
    rary is online now Mature Fruiter
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    Welcome to the Vine Mav, if you are going to dig wait till the soil is a bit dryer which will make it easier to turn, be lighter in weight and be less of a mess, if turning turf remove the first line (spit) you dig this will allow you to turn the next line upside down as if you just partially turn it the grass will grow again, if you go for the no dig method you could spread some black poly or better still black weed suppressant membrane over your garden and cut X in it and plant through it (the membrane lets water drain through it) the things to plant through are potatoes, onions leek or any stemmed veg like cabbage etc. if its potatoes fold back at end of season to remove any potatoes still on the soil surface, then re-cover, after two years you should be able to remove any covering as most weeds like couch grass docks and nettles will die from the lack of light, in the London area I would go for a poly tunnel as it won't be as cold as some other areas and you can get a big poly tunnel for that he price of a small greenhouse, personally I would not use a cultivation as it can create a pan in the soil plus using it on weeded ground it just creates a lot of weed cuttings to grow again. Whatever you do take your time, don't try to do everything at once, enjoy your gardening, don't expect too much from it, that way you will not be disappointed and will be pleased with what you get
    it may be a struggle to reach the top, but once your over the hill your problems start.

    Member of the Nutters Club but I think I am just there to make up the numbers

  7. #7
    MavPT is offline Germinator
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    Thanks to all who have replied and imparted their advice. Much appreciated. 😀

    I have a feeling Iím expecting an immediate success in the first year. Albeit with no prior experience. Itís clear I have a lot (x10000) to learn about this.

    If I may ask;
    Whatís the timber you reccomend for raised beds?

    Where do you source a PT from?

    Thanks again all!
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  8. #8
    rary's Avatar
    rary is online now Mature Fruiter
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    Most timber purchased from a builders merchant will have been pressure treated which helps to stop the wood rotting, but depending on what hight you are going to make your raised bed determines how thick your boards should be, if it is a low raised bed just increasing the soil hight works well, if you want wooden sides surrounding it pallet or fence boards can be used but it will need strengthened with something like 2x2 posts (I have used old scrap angle irons from a bed which gives good strength) you may also be able to pick up or buy old sleepers which you need to line with poly sheet or plastic to prevent any contamination from preservative (creosote) into your soil, I would recommend that you line any timber that you use which will help stop the timber rotting and avoid any soil contamination, an other source of wood could be old scaffold boards which can be picked up quite cheaply
    Try e-bay or one of those recycle sites on the computer for a poly tunnel or you will find adverts for polytunnel suppliers in any garden mag, or simply mention polytunnel on you computer and you will get flooded with them
    Last edited by rary; 31-01-2019 at 03:39 PM.
    it may be a struggle to reach the top, but once your over the hill your problems start.

    Member of the Nutters Club but I think I am just there to make up the numbers

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