I love growing fruit and veg so much that I decided it was time to take the plunge and get an allotment.
I’ve been successfully growing all manner of things in my garden – in pots and a couple of raised beds, but thought it would be nice to take on something bigger. Particularly because we can never grow enough strawberries or raspberries!
The idea is to make it fairly low maintenance, and somewhere mini-me and I can hang out, and hopefully meet some like-minded gardening folk.
I’m really lucky because there are quite a few allotment sites near me, and as soon as I contacted the council they told me there were a number of plots at Colesmead allotments, which is a 5 minute drive away.
I had the choice of 4 plots, all roughly half plot size. I chose the flattest one, or so I thought! I also realise it is the same number as our house, so maybe it’s karma!
This is it the day I went to see it.
And the day I got the keys – the council had cut the grass. It’s roughly 8m x 14m, and despite the fact I thought it was flat, it’s covered in lots of little hills and dales, no doubt down to the previous owners beds.
There is a small pallet compost area (which I will make into multiple bays) and a hillock at the back, which is where I guess they dumped the soil they dug up. I’m going to use that to flatten it all out again.
I got the plot in November, and I want I be as much ‘no dig’ as possible, so I’ve covered it in black heavy duty weed suppressant fabric for the winter. I bought the fabric in a massive roll from Amazon, and whilst it’s not the cheapest way of doing things, I know I will be able to reuse the fabric for a few years at least.
I pegged it down with the plastic pegs that came free with the fabric, and I’ve since been back to put bricks/stones and pallets on top to help hold it down.
However, it’s been really windy this December/January, and I’ve already had to fix it down again twice. The first time it was flapping about. The second time (today – 6th January) it looked like this. Only the hillock with all the pallets on it was ok, and it had all blown onto my neighbours plot.
It’s good to see that it’s working in that the grass and weeds are dying off. And it’s interesting to get a better view of the previous beds. But it’s a pain in the arse to keep spending an hour to fasten it all back down.
So now it looks like this..
the wood is from some raised beds that I’m moving from my garden to the allotment.
And tomorrow I’m off up there again to put some more of the raised bed wood on top. I’ve also ordered some more pegs to peg down the edges a lot more. It’s when the wind gets underneath that it’s a disaster, so I need to try and stop that happening!
I know this year is going to be a lot of hard work, and then hopefully subsequent years will be easier. Wish me luck!
Update: I went to the plot the very next day after I first wrote this post, and it had all blown off again!!
So we added a lot more planks of wood, and I moved one of the pallets to the middle. I can happily report that I visited this morning, and all is looking well!
I uncovered the middle third of the plot to plant up some raspberries (see raspberry post for more detail), and this is what the ground looks like in mid March.
Lots of dead grass, but surprisingly, some very persistent grass that is green, and I assume is couch grass. The dark patches are where I’ve filled in some of the random trenches on the plot, with soil from the burial mounds or where I’ve been digging a trench for the raspberries.
I’ve covered it back up again, but it shows how long it’s going to take to get rid of the couch grass.
Here is a update from April/May – before I started planting the raspberries and building the raised beds.
If you get your plot on autumn/winter, I would definitely recommend this as a way of getting rid of grass and weeds.
I have now removed most of the fabric and covered the paths and most of the bits I’m not going to cultivate this year with cardboard and wood chippings (free from a tree surgeon). Hard work to lay (lots of barrowloads from the top of the site to the plot), but really lovely underfoot, no grass to mow, and will hopefully over time help improve the heavy clay soil.
it’s July, and I thought I would add an update…
This area has been covered in weed suppressant fabric since November. Mostly clear, but still some persistent bindweed and couch grass. And there were loads of slugs in the damp clay soil!
Still recommend the fabric for areas that you’re not going to cultivate straight away. Imagine what it would look like if I’d left it uncovered. I was able to cover this in cardboard and build a raised bed straight away.