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Advice or links for over-grown allotments please...
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Jeff



Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 145
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 11:22 am    Post subject: Advice or links for over-grown allotments please...  Reply with quote    

Hi all,

It's been a while... and I could use some help please...

I took on an allotment on Sunday, it was really difficult to find one in the area with many sites having long waiting lists. The manager at the place I found a plot even said at first that they didn't really have anything until at least the end of the year as some deralict plots needed clearing before they could be used...

Well, I like a challenge and asked if they would let me do the clearing so to speed things up, and they weren't going to say no to some free donkey-work were they! He gave me the site for 2 (membership fee) for the rest of the year...

It's 10 rods? or 90 feet x 30 feet for the rest of us and covered from front to back with 6 foot high brambles at one end and long, thick grass at the other, i.e. a whole lot of work...

I am fit and strong enough to be able to work hard on this site but wonder which ways are most efficient to attack this problem?

I know I've got to dig out lots of roots to perhaps a foot down and expect to be hard at it throughout Autumn and winter...

Are there any tips on how best to tackle this mammoth task? I know I could cut and cover the area with black plastic or carpet but I'm far to impacient to wait a season! I want to be planting in spring and have access to tons of free manure right now on site that I'd love to get dug in...

What's your thoughts and tips please?!!!

Thanks a load,
Jeff

Last edited by Jeff on Tue Sep 13, 05 11:28 am; edited 2 times in total

sean
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 41983
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Wotcha jeff. There's a thread in 'Grow your own' here

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Note to the Editor, lloks like this is the kind of threads we could make into an article.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

OK, off you go then, TD

http://www.hdra.org.uk/organicgardening/plot_clearing.php has some of the organic options if that's any help, I only saw this bit the other day when I was looking at the HDRA site which is why I hadn't posted it on the other thread so good timing.

Also, I would check out the brambles and see if any of them bear good fruit, there is a chance they were originally fruit bushes, and may be tasty - they make a good hedge both for your privacy and the benefit of the local wildllife.

Finally the long grass is a chance to look dangerous with a scythe Black hooded cloak optional.

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

There are several schools of thought - the chemical, the mechanical and the manual. I favour the old-fashioned "start at one end and work your way to the other" approach - it's knackering, but gives an immense feeling of smugness when you get there.
To help the process along, I would start by cutting down and burning the long stuff. Then you can take a good look at what's underneath it all. If there's a lot of grass, it might be worth cutting off the top layer of turf, turning it over and then covering it. It should then rot down into a nice tilth.
Nettles and brambles - you could try the glyphosate route, but it is a bit late in the year for that IMO, so you might as well start digging out the roots now. Burn the roots - don't compost them.
There have been a couple of other threads on this topic recently - might be worth tracking them down too.
Good luck!

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bugs wrote:
Finally the long grass is a chance to look dangerous with a scythe Black hooded cloak optional.


At this time of year take care of the little creature looking for a place to sleep. Frogs, toads, slow-worms all love rough long grass. As they will be munching their way through slugs and snails next year it pays to gently move them to the hedges or other rough parts before you clear the ground with a mechanical tool.

Jeff



Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 145
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Cheers, quick responses!

I am very much organically minded and intend to do it the manual way to know that the job has been done well. I don't expect their to be any real short cuts and don't want to use chemicals.

I love nature and always look for wildlife to have a place in the garden as I will the allotment. I am very lucky that this site has a purpose designed conservastion/wildlife reserve. A member is an ecologist and is always around to offer and help advice, it was he that proposed the idea of course.

I forgot to mention that I have a wonderful present, 3 fruit trees which came with the plot! The manager thinks they might be plums, I can't wait to see what comes next year! I will give them a good prune in the winter, they certainly need it and could use a prompt to start fruiting succesfully again.

Thanks again

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

If you can manage a pic of the trees, someone might (no promises) be able to help identify them (assume they have no fruit on but presumably still have leaves so a close up as well).

Have you considered putting in a small pond on the plot to encourage frogs, dragonflies etc?

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Jeff wrote:
The manager thinks they might be plums, I can't wait to see what comes next year! I will give them a good prune in the winter, they certainly need it and could use a prompt to start fruiting succesfully again.


If they are plums then don't prune them in winter. Plums, and other stone fruits, should be pruned when they are growing to reduces the risk of infection. Pruning should be done about April to June and you may wish to use wound paint.

Jonnyboy



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 23924
Location: under some rain.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

If they are plums then there should be plenty of fruit around right now, Are there any early varieties?

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bugs wrote:

Have you considered putting in a small pond on the plot to encourage frogs, dragonflies etc?


I can vouch for this being worth doing; that was one of the first things ID did after taking on my plot in February, and it's been great seeing all the frogs, pond skaters, etc. And, of course, frogs are good guys, they eat slugs and snails.

Over winter I'm mulling over digging out a bigger pond.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Jonnyboy wrote:
If they are plums then there should be plenty of fruit around right now, Are there any early varieties?


Lots, and remember that here in the South East a lot of things come and go quicky. Here in Cambs, the damsons are all ripe, the bullaces are nearly ripe, but the majority of the wild plums are gone, and most of the ones on trees down at the allotments are gone too.

Jonnyboy



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 23924
Location: under some rain.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cab wrote:
[ but the majority of the wild plums are gone, and most of the ones on trees down at the allotments are gone too.


A blessing and a curse, I seem to have a later but less frantic harvesting season, in fact my elderberries are only just worth picking and I have a few plum trees nearby that would benefit from another week

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Jonnyboy wrote:

A blessing and a curse, I seem to have a later but less frantic harvesting season, in fact my elderberries are only just worth picking and I have a few plum trees nearby that would benefit from another week


Oh, it's a curse, but then again we get a few wierd things growing, and we can make use of our growing season differently. Sweetcorn, fennel, aubergines, even peaches, seem to do rather better outside down here than they do further North. But yeah, the wild fruit glut in late summer can be trying!

Jonnyboy



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 23924
Location: under some rain.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 05 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Back on topic though, I think that sometimes if you have a seriously overgrown allotment, a good blast of glysophate and once you are cleared and ready to begin then apply organic principles is the most productive, and less back breaking method.

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