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Exciting news

Well for me it is.

I've finally got myself an allotment. Never had one before and I'm very excited. Smile

Top tips from you knowledgeable people are very warmly welcomed.

Try not to curse the person who had it before you too much. Laughing


get a big plastic drum with a lid for making mixture, apart from the stunning plant food it is ideal for "composting"stuff that would be bad in a heap, weed seeds/roots, dead rats and random bits of zoo jigsaw from the bottom of the freezer can all go in and it also converts chicken muck/ BFB into much more plant friendly forms

put it as far from where you or your neighbours sit as you can and make sure the lid fits

iirc the ds archives have some ace new allotment threads

find a source of manure/ critter bedding, even fresh which is easier to get free is very useful, heap fresh /activate with mixture/wait a bit/plant pumpkins cucumbers etc . after that it is ready for use on the soil.
you cannot have too much manure, compost and mixture.

smother can work as well as dig for weeds ,smother with manure is good

bit of a manure theme but the main problem with a lot of allotments is soil condition.

wombled windows etc are ace for cold frames, a roll of 1000gm polythene is ace for cloches, tunnels, solarisation, compost heap covers etc etc

mattock, fork, spade, kukri/machete/big gp knife to taste, pocket knife, hose pipe or other means of big watering, watering can (mixture etc ), trowel, dibber, hoe.
those tools cover most things, a wheel barrow is handy but there is often a few site ones.

ps string rope sticks etc etc etc are handy, womble owt that looks useful.

Try not to curse the person who had it before you too much. Laughing

Very good advice...especially if they end up back with another plot on the same site!
Mistress Rose

Great news. All the best with it. Sorry, no advice as I have never had an allotment. We looked after an old lady's large garden in our first house and have a large enough garden for growing veg here.

Thanks all.

DPack thank for you all that advice. All noted and will be used. Smile

little by near to home is your allotment and do you have a shed?

It's not far at all GZ, about a 10 minute walk. There is nothing there at the moment, it's a blank canvas. I will invest in a small shed though and probably put in some raised beds.

Ten minutes is good..a warmup pre-digging

Proximity is fantastic. Time for a bike trailer to haul home your harvests?

Never thought of that GZ. Smile

That is a good idea Slim. I think I'll look into that.

You will need some strong wire if you are going to make the supporting hoops and holding down hoops for your cloches. The cloche is important if you want early, early potatoes. Cloches keep the frost off and increase the temperature by day, although I used to give the potatoes an airing every day and even if no frost promised at night I always covered them when I went to bed. I forgot once and was down the garden in my pjs at midnight. Best of luck you have all the gardeners here to advise, I am still learning after gardening for a few years. It is always a good plan to mark your beds out and have them protected with a few perimeter boards and gives clear areas for your rotation. Also try to make a cage to cover at least one of your beds and preferably two, to keep the birds off where you don't want them-in the raspberries for example. Any way have fun. A bicycle with a mini trailer will bring the produce home, good extra exercise, but keep the arms fitter for the digging.

Sorry, I have just read Slim's post regarding the bike. Guess I should have read them all first! A shed is critical; tools develop feet, legs and a mind of their own if not locked away when not in use.
Something else I thought of is to grow spuds in old tyres. If you are short of space then you can use tyres up to about 5 high-4 was my limit I think, due to a short growing season. I will tell you how if you feel the need. But they are a good cleaning crop, but it is you who does the cleaning with inter-row cultivations.

Sorry, I have just read Slim's post regarding the bike. Guess I should have read them all first!

I won't complain about you agreeing with me Laughing
wellington womble

COVER THE SOIL! all of the time. Never, ever leave it bare. It sprouts weeds in seconds. It matter less what you cover it with, so long as it keeps the light out.

My preference is proper, woven weed suppressing membrane. I cover the beds all winter with it, and then when it’s time to plant I cover the gaps around/between plants with grass cuttings or bark chippings as I plant the beds up, which I renew as available. At the end of the season I cover with alpaca/chicken/guinea pig bedding/compost (also as available) and then with WSM again, leaving lovey, crumbly, fertile soil to plant straight into. If you are religious about it, it will nearly eliminate weeding, making your gardening about pleasurable planting and less back breaking digging or 'preparing' of beds, which is tedious when you want to get stuff in the ground.

Also, think about paths. I favour weed suppressing membrane with gravelly stuff over it (bark chips were fine in year one, and ok in two. By year three they had rotted down into lovely compost and my paths grew more weeds than the beds did). I haven’t yet found a good construction method of keeping the paths easy to walk/barrow on (don’t underestimate how much more pleasureable this makes gardening) and keeping the soil off them. I’m thinkng of Hoggin, but I think it would hard to sweep/wash down.

beds one can reach the middle of from a decent path are rather good.

a plank path in a big bed can be handy ( or should that be footy Rolling Eyes ) with a bit of rope on one end they can be easily portable should that be useful. foot on one end lower or raise the other end with the rope.

re weeds, if you have perennial weeds that propagate from root fragments do not rotavate , ever

let us know what weeds you have , we know how to kill most of em.
a decent hoe is usually the best tool for intercrop weeding

for best advice photos and reports of the state of it might help

soil conditioning is a must even with good soils as good soils can be made better

one doable bed at a time was effective with my one ( a remedial job ) to start to get stuff growing asap which helps a lot with the diplomatic aspects.
your fellow allotmenteers will be a mixed bunch but some will have a stunning knowledge and skill set .

at this time of year a few successive plantings of early ,mid and main crop spuds, hoeing and earthing up will clean a decent area and might give a half decent return for effort on most soils.

Everything dpack just said, and my take/interpretation of two of his points:

soil conditioning is a must even with good soils as good soils can be made better

one doable bed at a time was effective with my one ( a remedial job ) to start to get stuff growing asap which helps a lot with the diplomatic aspects.
Organic matter makes most soils better, and doesn't ever really do anything to make them worse.

It's good to harness your enthusiasm, but better to wish you had planted more than to wish you didn't have so much weeding to catch up on.

perhaps i was not clear, by one bed at a time i mean prep and plant a bed then the next then the next etc rather than prep lots then plant lots. Mistress Rose

If you have a pet charcoal burner near you, a little small charcoal, the sort he/she may throw away unless they are in the biochar market can make a good addition. If you have a log fire the ash is good for spot fertilising things like tomatoes, but the potash washes out of it quickly, so has to be kept dry and used when needed, which is flower set time. sgt.colon

Thank you for all that great advice. I've lots to learn.

I like the sound of minimal weeding WW. I think some time spent planning and setting up properly is a must.

Apparently they get deliveries of free manure a few times a year and then guy showing me around said you can just help yourself.

Love a load of free manure Cool

What are you getting in first?

Great news on the manure! We loved our allotment.

Have you got any seeds planted yet? Smile And plans drawn?

Starting with a blank canvas is a bonus, too.

Frewen and Fee,

I will be sitting down this weekend and planning out my plot. Not sure what I'm going to get in there first. Someone easy I think whilst I get it up and running. I'm going to go with DPacks idea of one bed at a time. I would like to do beetroot and some lettuce I think. Some garlic later in the year. There are some free large blue tubs about so some carrots as well I think.

At some point I'd like to get a small greenhouse on there for toms and chilli's.

Here are a couple of photos of my little plot. Apparently it hadn't been used for 15 years up to last year when a lady took it on but then gave it up.


Just cover all of it as soon as you can, then dig where you want and cover again till you want to sow your seeds or plant out plants you have grown at home or bought in. Weeding is such a back breaking job, and when you are on top of it, it is usually just hoeing to maintain the ground with minimal weeds-you will never get rid of them all however you try! Remember that the more you dig the more weed seeds you will bring to the surface to germinate!
MOST IMPORTANT-"Always have a can of lubricant with you, for that moment when you need to reflect-well at least 2 cans, as you may need refreshment on the way there as well as on the way back" Take 3 to be safe.

Thanks for that Gregotyn, I'll get down in the next couple of weeks and get it all covered before I start. Maybe I should just take a crate down. Very Happy Nicky Colour it green

might be worth looking at the no-dig gardening method

not to be confused with no work! - but with free compost deliveries could be good,

Looks great, sgt.colon! That's going to be such a nice place to spend your time come later in spring and summer, with those trees! Nice path, too! sgt.colon

I got my first bed weeded and turned over this weekend. There are now runners and beetroot in there.

Is there a general food that people would recommend watering on to it?

Thanks. Smile

blood,fish and bone is pretty good for top dressing , rake it in and water it.

keep it off the leaves Wink

longer term mixture at suitable dilutions

Thanks DPack. Smile Slim

Feeding the soil will be the best approach long term, but when you need a little fertility boost, you can always whizz in a bottle and fill with water to dilute for a liquid feed that moves toward closing open nutrient cycles Laughing

These folks are doing good work on a large-ish scale, but of course your own private scale doesn't necessarily require the same concerns, as you'll have a better sense of what's being "produced" Laughing

Cheers for that Slim. Smile

I'd read somewhere a few years ago about peeing on your compost heap to help it along.
Mistress Rose

Worm compost and the liquid from a wormery are also useful, as are nettle and various other brews, but they do stink rather. sgt.colon

Well I'll be setting up three compost bins MR but I guess it will be a while before one of those are ready, so I was after something that I can water in for my planted veg. Smile Hairyloon

I'd read somewhere a few years ago about peeing on your compost heap to help it along.

Doesn't hurt, & you've got to pee somewhere... How much it helps the process, I couldn't say, but I assume it adds nitrate to the finished product.

More generally, I find it good to start at a corner, get that right and expand from there.
Mistress Rose

Nettle brew can be made quite quickly, so if you have nettles, rather than trying to compost the tops and burn the roots, rot them down in water and use the resulting brew. As far as I recall, it has to be diluted to the colour of weak tea, but you can check on that on the internet. sgt.colon

Thought I'd give you guys an update on how my allotment is coming on.

I've planted runners, beetroot and sweetcorn. I've finally got myself a bucket to be able to drown roots, which on that note, do I just drown the roots or can I do the whole plant? I've got a greenhouse I need to go and pick up, which I should be doing next month. Still no shed yet though. I'm hoping one comes up on Freecycle soon. Smile


Looking good Smile Shan

Looks brilliant. Well done. Slim

You haven't finished the topiaries yet? Wink

Looking good!

nice Mistress Rose

Looks as if it is going well. I tend to try to dry roots out by putting them on top of something so they can't get the soil. In the interests of having room, I would just put the roots in a bucket to drown them. sgt.colon

Thank you all. Smile

Thanks MR, I'll just go roots only. I'm busy trying to get as much horsemare root out as I can at the minute. What a laborious task it is.

Looks as if it is going well. I tend to try to dry roots out by putting them on top of something so they can't get the soil. In the interests of having room, I would just put the roots in a bucket to drown them.

roots, seeds and unkillable stuff dissolves in a couple of weeks in a mixture tub and the sludge added to a compost heap now and again. Wink

a 50 gallon plastic drum with a loose lid is ideal Wink Wink Wink

ps it also sorts the problem of what to do with a dead rat or glut of pig heads (nowt but teeth and a mineralised liquid feed in a month or two

pps also an ace way to use nettles, comfrey etc to extract minerals and turn em into plant food.

mixture is a bit smelly but tis one of the best ways to make nutrients available, convert wastes and provide a stunning starter culture for green compost


Your garden is coming along nicely, I haven't read the entire thread so I'll add a few idea which may or may not have been covered already.

Try to add mulch between the plants to suppress weeds and retain moisture. Interplanting helps such as planting onions, garlic, leaf lettuce and various herbs between the larger plants in your garden.

Quite a few of those plants also help deter some of the harmful insects also.



Thought I'd give you guys an update on how my allotment is coming on.

I've planted runners, beetroot and sweetcorn. I've finally got myself a bucket to be able to drown roots, which on that note, do I just drown the roots or can I do the whole plant? I've got a greenhouse I need to go and pick up, which I should be doing next month. Still no shed yet though. I'm hoping one comes up on Freecycle soon. Smile

Mistress Rose

I had a lot of rather coarse compost this year and left some on the surface of some of the beds. Something, birds or small animals, has been scraping around in it and has dug up some of the plants while doing so. One problem with mulching. sgt.colon

I think next year when I get into the swing of it properly, I'll have a look at companion planting.

I'm not overly bothered about mulching at the moment as I just pop down with my hoe and keep on top of those pesky weeds.

Did my first harvest at the weekend. 4 beetroot and lots of runners. The corn is coming on a treat as well. Hopefully be harvesting some ears in September. Smile

not companion planting as such but when beans/peas have finished cropping snip em off at ground level and plant the next stuff among the stumps.

the root nodules that have the nitrogen fixing bacteria will continue to feed the soil and next crop long after the beans are eaten.

Thanks for the top tip DPack. Smile dpack

it can be a cornerstone of crop rotation which is good for reducing pests and diseases as well as gaining the advantage of nitrogen fixation. sgt.colon

If I don't plant anything else once my beans are done, is it still advisable to leave the cut stumps in the ground for a while? sean

Yep. sgt.colon

Thank you. Smile dpack

get some winter greens germinated ready and replanting is a doddle Wink
next spring that patch then becomes the corn bed . next yrs beans go in the ex corn bed etc etc etc .

salads are best between stuff that gets big later after the salad is eaten.

even prepping new beds can be made easy with such tricks as the straw/pumpkin gambit for compacted , organic fibre depleted soil or the catering pack kilo of coriander seed from mr gohar ( other emporiams are available ) which will make some nice trading herbs and a weed suppressing green mulch in a few weeks Laughing
this option can be used now if you can water a few times to get things going.

no dig, broadcast and rake in then interdicts weeds topside and most of the seed will take.

there are a couple of beds in the snaps where that might be a good start.

a good effort /return ratio is best Wink

have you decided where the compost heaps go?
if so the "run off" side is where to locate rhubarb and asparagus. do it this winter and in a couple of years the benefits will be obvious.

thinking of compost , water it ( personal is good ) as damp is a vital part of the job .

Thanks for all that DPack. There is soooo much I still have to learn.

You don't fancy moving over this way do you? Very Happy
Mistress Rose

The only problem with no dig is if you have any persistent weeds. Things like ground elder, couch grass and bramble love no dig. sgt.colon

Well I'm digging plenty at the moment MR. I'm slowly going through trying to remove as much Horsetail root as possible. There's loads of the bloody stuff.

A guy did tell me to buy something called Kurtail Gold but I don't want to use chemicals on my little plot.
Mistress Rose

We don't use chemicals more than we have to, but with things like horsetail I am afraid it might be the only way. See how you get on over a few years without it, then if all else fails... Not a week I have had thank goodness, but I think it is one of those that is very persistent. gregotyn

To minimise any chemical use, sgt., you could use a weed wipe glove and so target only those weeds you have/want to get rid of and don't respond to being pulled or dug up. There are times when you have to bite the bullet, however against principles it may be. If you have horsetails then chemicals are the answer....or move!

I have been lucky with my gardens in the houses I have lived in, in that my predecessors have all been good gardeners!

You are looking good in such a short space of time.

Thanks Gregotyn. Smile

I'm looking at edging my beds with wood and I've been looking at gravel boards. Are these safe where food stuff is being grown with what they have been treated with? If not please could someone recommend what type of wood would be best to use? I've also considered pallets.

Thanks. Smile
Mistress Rose

It depends on how long you want them to last. I would ask what the gravel boards have been treated with. I think they are down to about copper now if they are treated softwood, and it doesn't work. Expect about 2 years life. Oak, chestnut or western red cedar are probably the longest lived ones without treatment, but make sure they are completely heartwood; the sapwood decays quite quickly. sgt.colon

Thanks MR. It doesn't say on the B&Q website what they are treated with. If you have a look on the internet it just say's they are pressure treated.

Can you buy those sorts of wood in the shops do you know?

Thanks. Smile

Edit:- I found this on one website.

Tanalith E green or brown

my treated floor joist planter is about 10 yrs old and showing a little decay in places.

i lined it with 1000gm/m polythene to separate the soil from the timber treatment.

it seems to have worked ok.

Once they say pressure treated it implies that cca has been the chemicals used-well it did when I was young and sent on a course to run a treatment plant-stood for copper, chrome, arsenic. Not my ideal now but guess we didn't know much different when I was on the course 40 years ago. Our company was in line to buy one of their treatment plants for 200k. The course was good but the treatment lethal to most things including the operator and all bugs. If I were to use treated timber today I would cover it in polythene to reduce the risks to my plants, bugs and me. Today's treatment I am told is much reduced in potency. It is too many years for me to remember all the details, but probably available on the net somewhere. I have just read the dpack post so it looks as though it works with the polythene barrier. I am repeating it all as I hadn't read Mistress Rose's post either-sorry. dpack

in the days of tributyl tin, copper arsenate and lindane i had an nbc mask, nitrile gloves and plastic clothes Laughing

a really simple way to raise a bed level is to just pile it up and grow stuff on the sides

gabions or hurdles are options, coppice or otherwise based

a line of turf wall will raise a bed every new layer.

how long the edges last is not as important as does the soil escape ( too much ) and how deep can i get this ( carrots ummm yummm )
Mistress Rose

Yes, treatment used to be cca, but over the years they have removed the chrome and arsenic. Better for the operators and those using it, but doesn't work as far as longevity of the wood is concerned. There is some wood that is heat treated that is supposed to last longer, but not used it, so I would still go with the woods that have natural resistance. If you can protect the wood from the soil it helps, but maybe not so practical for a raised bed. I wouldn't expect a hazel hurdle type edging to last more than a few years if it was in contact with the soil, but if you just use it as a surround, then longer. sgt.colon

Thanks all. Smile

I think I'm going to have to put a little thought into it. I'm only doing it to make it look nice and neat and to have something for my paths to butt up to.

I'm trying to acquire some used paving slabs off Freecycle.

Has anyone ever moved a greenhouse before? I'm going to collect one in a couple of weeks and I'm just trying to figure out the best way to transport all the glass?

Thanks. Smile

We took ours down in 2010, we haven't got round to putting it back up Smile sgt.colon


Do you think you'll ever put it back up? Have you not missed it? That might be a silly question eight years on. Very Happy

I'd love to, but still busy at work and the orchard takes a lot of time too. Dunno, but we really miss not having a veg plot dpack

lots of time
good gloves
eye protection is wise ( pinging clips / glass issues )

bucket dustpan and brush . box ( for any broken sheets )

wd40 ( owt tight get squirty cos brute force breaks glass )
long nose pliers, waterpump pliers,mole wrench, screwdrivers.
hammer, drift, back block ( for punching out rusted bolts )

other tools may include, drill/bolt croppers/angle grinder with cutting disk ( if the bolts are properly rusted solid )

unclip glass, ( there are a few types of clip all of them fun so take a variety of pointy pokey tools ) The clips may try to escape , be vigilant and pop each in the bag as they come off ( replacements might be hard to source ), don't lose the bag

wrap glass in newspaper ,
tape into manageable parcels .
transport parcels layered with cardboard and secured in vehicle

most are easy but go equipped for rusted fixings just in case it ain't good marine stainless

ps use marine quality bolts if replacing any , fertilizers etc are as corrosive as sea water

Thanks for all that DPack, very useful. Smile

Ahhh that's rubbish not even have a little veg plot Tahir. I feel sad for you. Sad

I've got my shed up and I've re-felted the roof. I was going to put guttering under where it runs off the felt and attach it to a water butt I've managed to scrag. Will the rainwater be okay with it having run off the felt roof?

Thanks. Smile

Congratulations on your shed building. I would try to collect the water if you can. I am sure lots of folks collect off felt roofs, someone here will know! And when the advice comes I will copy it! Mistress Rose

As far as I know it should be all right. The first stuff might have some hydrocarbons from the felt treatment, but not enough to worry about I wouldn't think. sgt.colon

Thanks Gregotyn.

Thank you MR. I'll get my guttering sorted and installed. Smile

Well I planted 100 onions at the weekend and cover them in a garden fleece. Went to the allotment last night and all but nine of them had been pulled up and scattered around the plot, with the fleece ripped in several places. Damn you destructive creature, whoever you are. Mad

I've replanted and thankfully I had some left over but I've now got about 85 onions planted. I've double fleeced with the second fleece sat on top of a bricks, with bricks then on top of the bricks.

I'll be calling tonight to get some corn, so I'll see what, if anything has happened.


start at the top Wink

whichever it is chicken wire helps a lot but the first 2 are repelled by chilli powder and the latter by a tangled web of fine threads.

Thanks DPack. I'll throw some chilli powder down if they have all been pulled up again and see how I get on. Smile dpack

one year i planted my onions 4 times Embarassed

something that can help is planting a bit low so as nothing shows above ground, a stem stump is a great handle Laughing

Ahhhh I didn't realise I could plant them underground, I thought so much had to be over the top. Thanks DPack I'll go with that option. Smile

4 times!!! How disheartening. The annoying thing is, they don't do anything with them, just throw them around all over the place.
Mistress Rose

We had some fox cubs raised in our buddliea one year and I am sure they played football with the onion sets. Laughing sgt.colon

Laughing Laughing dpack

chilli should work with foxes, it does with dogs n cats.

cats can be an issue(r) if they spot nice loose earth which is a bit nasty among the lettuces
Mistress Rose

Don't have any chilli around. It does for me too. sgt.colon

Just a couple of picture updates. I'm getting there slowly. The paving slabs next to the shed are going to be the base for when I get my greenhouse. I've 2 and a bit more beds to turn.


looking good...but do cover the bare earth...whether with groundcover or mulch sgt.colon

Thanks GZ. I will do. Why do I need to do that? gz

to stop weed seeds germinating or landing, to feed the soil(mulch) and also carbon release to the atmosphere caused by upon permaculture?

Nature will fill any gap/bare soil you leave with things you don't want!!

Thank you for that GZ Smile I'll have a read up on permaculture.

Would I be too late to sow some green manure?

I think so, I'm trying to think who is best able to help...I don't think Ferme de Sourrou are on ds so much now...but Irene is on FB and the Ferme has a page as well. Is there an article on here about green manure? dpack

Thank you for that GZ Smile I'll have a read up on permaculture.

Would I be too late to sow some green manure?

no, if you pick a lowish temp late autumn option it will be ahead of the "weeds " in the spring.

or use the time and space to get an early crop of broad beans under plastic. Wink

good point dpack...add garlic to that! sgt.colon

Thank you both. Smile dpack

if you do go the cloche route 1000gm clear plastic and plastic water/gas pipe, some pegs and paracord is quick and surprising robust. hold the edges down with bricks for easy skirt lifting.

winter salads and a place to start things early is rather nice as well

Plenty of cold hardy winter options. Some would do better as transplants put in the ground prior to winter....

spinach, arugula, cilantro, lettuce, kale,

If planted late summer: carrots, beets

Mistress Rose

Just be aware that water pipe can bend under a snow load and not move back. Our log store is constructed like that and has a frame of scaffold poles to prevent it bending. That is a lot bigger than a cloche though. I overwinter purple sprouting broccoli and winter cabbage, but I find the kale, although it survives and comes on again in the spring, gives up in the frost. I have tried both curly and black, but neither seem to be frost hardy.
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