Allotment Clearance Update
I thought that I would collect together progress photos from the past few months as we’ve been hard at work clearing our plot. The long-term plan is to not till the land, which is a method also known as “no dig”. That said, we chose to dig over the allotment from top to bottom at the very beginning to give us a blank canvas. We did this because the plot was covered in deeply rooted perennial weeds like docks and couch grass, and it was also a graveyard of bricks and plastic. We wanted to get all of that crap up and out of the plot to create a blank canvas. I know that it is possible to lay cardboard and compost down on top of whatever is already in the ground, but that would have been incredibly expensive to do on this scale. Now that the perennial weeds are out, we can begin rebuilding the soil health and mycorrhizal networks by lightly hoeing the soil surface on a regular basis rather than turning it over each season with a fork. I’m not averse to using a fork to dig out deep rooted docks, but there should be far fewer of those now that we’ve done the initial clearance work. I’m sure some will grow from seed, but they’ll be easy enough to pull.
The residents over the back were given access to the allotments so that they could trim some of their trees. We asked that the woodchip be left on our plot to save us about 20 or 30 trips with a wheelbarrow. We’ll be using woodchips for paths, without weed membrane. After digging up a heavy carpet of overgrown weed membrane embedded with creeping buttercup, I never want to use the stuff myself.
Progress as far as the fruit trees. The left hand side was the worst for couch grass, as our neighbour’s plot on that side is also riddled with it.
The end of the beginning! The day we finished digging over our entire plot. Note Mount Doom in the corner at the back. That’s our weed filled waste pile. We’ll just leave it to fester for a year and then decide whether to use it on our plot, or scatter it alongside the fence of the woodland and nature reserve adjacent to our plot.
Dad came up and installed some battens and a shelf for us in the shed, and he mended the front of the shed where a panel had been kicked in during an historic break in.
I edged the right hand side with a half moon tool, and Ed sunk a border in to keep the grass from creeping back. Those wooden boards are half rotten. They were the old bed borders a previous tenant had installed, but organic matter had built up around them and they’d reached the end of their useful life as beds. They’re good enough to use as a border though.
It still looks messy but this was the day that we felt like we had got on top of things. The wood is all neatly stacked, and so are the bricks. The pile of wood waste from pruning bushes is gone, as Ed broke it all down and distributed it under bushes in the woods. It’ll provide nesting material for birds and a habitat for frogs and other woodland animals and insects.