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Allotment, end of round 1 (ding ding)

Posted by on Saturday 5 July 2014 in growing | 9 comments

While the rest of the county was watching the cycling in the sunshine, I had a few hours at the allotment this afternoon.

(I’m not going to document every second I’m down there but this visit had lots of “making big progress” picture opportunities and I thought I’d document it for my own record :) )

Though John and Lily-dog did visit me halfway through my session, I was flying solo today – and that meant the tools I could take were limited too — I didn’t fancy walking down the road with a massive scythe ;) I also thought I’d struggle with a spade & fork, and doing a lot of digging on my own would probably be unwise, so that shaped my workload: focus on hacking down the tall weeds to get a better feel for where to properly begin. I’m in no doubt that this is just round 1 of many rounds of weeding clearance before I can start using the plot in earnest!

I decided my first job should be clearing the path across the plot to the shed, else it’d get in my way for the rest of the afternoon. With a little sickle and secateurs for the thick dock & (possibly) willowherb stems, I had it passable in less than ten minutes – not perfect, but a good start!


(Ok, it’s kinda hard to tell from the photo since the path is still pretty green – but trust me, it’s a lot clearer. For starters, you can see the bamboo divider fence – though between that and the path, there are some narrow little beds. I’ll probably use that area for perennial herbs – there is already a healthy oregano plant at the end, and some chives too. I’ve got some rosemary, lavender & lemon balm ready to go, and will probably be able to rustle up some mint & sage as well.)

With that clear, I took a step back to look at the bigger picture. This is the greenhouse end of the plot (with the freshly cleared path to the left):


This is where the main growing veg growing beds seem to be (though I think there are some, or could be some nice ones under the grass in the immediate foreground) so I decided to focus my attentions down there.

I – kinda – worked in a systematic way: after clearing around the pond (so that I could see it and thus minimise my likelihood of nearly falling in it again!), I cleared the metal frame area (which I’ll probably leave up as a structure for beans/peas) and then looped around in a clockwise direction. I dithered back and forth a bit but got most of the tall stuff down in the end.

There is a little bed of fruit bushes between the metal frame and the greenhouse, including the blueberry bush I found the other day. I thought its neighbour was a gooseberry bush but when I was clearing the weeds from its base, I found a label – it is in fact a rather ambitious (for Yorkshire) goji berry bush. Next to that was an even more ambitious kiwi fruit vine (which had, unsurprisingly, died) and another as-yet unidentified bush. There were no flowers or fruit on it, but its leaves look like this – any ideas? (It looks a little like wild grape, but it’s not really vine-y. Or wild.)


All of the fruit bushes – these ones and the raspberries & blackcurrants which run along the edge of the plot up to the greenhouse – should be able to breath a bit easier now I’ve whisked away their smothering weed blankets. (I stupidly forgot to take containers to collect the ripe berries & currants – I’ll go back tomorrow or Monday for them.) I’ll continue to weed around them but otherwise won’t do much with them until pruning time.

I decided to bring my (arguably short) session to an end soon after I’d cleared around the fruit bushes – my hand was cramping from tightly grasping the sickle and the compost heap looked like this:


(It’s a pretty bin heap – at least a metre deep and wide, and as tall as me – but still, filled it.)

I looked back again at what I’d done:


Not too bad!

Next time I can go down, I’m going to start working a little closer to the ground. I identified one bed – a nice one, about 1metre wide and 4m long, in the middle of the plot – to clear properly and dig over.


I can just picture a few courgette plants in there, and some nice round lettuces, and in future years, maybe some sweetcorn…. Mmmm, so many possibilities!


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Antidigger

    Congratulations on getting your allotment. It looks like it has been well cared for in the past. which should make life a little easier now.
    Layers of weighted down cardboard will make a good light excluding mulch (that will rot nicely in to the soil eventually). I’d suggest putting some down on every bed as soon as you can and then you can take it up when you need to work on the bed, and if you’re not planting it up, pop the cardboard back on when you’ve finished working on it. If you’re digging soil out from another area of the allotment and need a space for it, you can plonk it on top of the layer of cardboard and just forget that you ever put the cardboard down. It won’t be perfect, but it will be a big help.

    • louisa

      Yes, I’ve been very lucky with it – the beds just need reclaim rather than creating from scratch.

      I was going to put some cardboard down on some of the beds today but I couldn’t carry over with everything else. I thought I found some plastic in the shed to use instead but it turned out to be clear so wouldn’t do a very good at excluding light! I’ll find some plastic or get some cardboard over there next time I visit though – anything to help weaken the weeds.

      Thanks so much for the comment – and the reassurance that the cardboard is the way to go :)

  2. mum

    doing well. but don’t over do it you don’t want a bad back too

  3. Eileen SMITH

    Good luck with your allotment , you have your work cut out for you but i bet it will be worth it xxx

  4. syrahsuzie

    That definitely looks like a grape vine leaf.

    • louisa

      Thanks – I was looking at some grape vines today and came to much the same conclusion — while anyone thought they’d grow outside in Yorkshire though is beyond me though! Might look into moving it into the greenhouse…

  5. Rachel

    Good work!
    I just saw this thread on the SelfSufficientish forum and thought of you and your grape vine: http://selfsufficientish.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=28149

    Not sure there’s a huge amount of useful information there, but thought you might be interested.

    • louisa

      Thanks for that link, Rachel. There seems to be a few ways to deal with it – and someone says they’ve had grapes in Gtr Manchester, and we’re not so far from there, so who knows? maybe it won’t need moving to the greenhouse after all. :)

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