Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

To dig or not to dig?

by Diane - October 2nd, 2012.
Filed under: allotment.

cover up weedsTo dig or not to dig

Many people think you have to dig an entire allotment over straight away. Whilst
this would be wonderful if you can do it, you’ll find it’s incredibly
hard work and you just can’t keep on top of it.

The answer isn’t to leave vast areas waiting to be dug. If you repeatedly
strim or mow then your ground will eventually resemble a lawn and whilst this
might look nice it’ll have a dense mat of roots that you’ll need
to remove.

The need to cover or cultivate

A much better option is to divide up the allotment into sections. Decide what
you’re going to plant where and then start work on the most urgent bed.

Don’t leave the rest unattended though. You will need to get vast amounts
of cardboard, mulch, grass clippings, compost, rotted leaves and other mulching

You could just cover the ground with cardboard or a weed fabric. A very thick
layer of cardboard is best as when it gets wet it will start to break down and
foxes are likely to dig through it. Weed fabric costs lots of money but the
good stuff will block the light making it easier to use the land when you get
round to it.

If you use cardboard then try to get a layer or two of organic material to
mulch on top with. This also helps suppress the weeds but also starts to create
a lasagne bed which rots down creating nice soil raising the levels on the plot.

If you can afford a small amount of weed fabric then use it and make sure it’s
weighed down. Come and check it after any blustery storms so that it’s
not blown away or damaged other people’s plots.

Carboard can be obtained free from the supermarkets. Speak to the night manager
about collecting cardboard from the overnight shelf stacking. You may have to
collect it very early in the morning but it’s free and a great resource
to have. You could also use layers of newspaper – ask neighbours if you
don’t have many.

Collect lawn clippings – ask your neighbours too for these but be prepared
to do the hard work of collecting them. Some gardeners take this a step further
and mow people’s lawns (With their permission) and take away the ‘waste’.
If you have elderly neighbours then this is probably a brilliant bit of community
spirit you can get going and you’re likely to be offered tea and cake

Raking leaves in autumn is another option to consider. It’s best to pick
your moment when there are plenty of leaves on the floor. A dry day makes the
job more pleasant but the leaves blow about a lot more when dry.

If you can scrounge other organic materials then add these to your covering
too. Finely shredded hedge trimmings or even bark can keep the weeds down. Well
rotted muck can be used but can also really encourage weeds to grow more strongly
if it’s not in a thick enough layer.

Don’t abandon your plot over winter. Make sure you go up once a week
at least – just to check tings haven’t blown away. Take a flask
and sit and enjoy the view too – make sure other people see you’re
on your plot as well.
Don’t use the weather as an excuse – get your coat and gloves up
and get out there. Wrap up warm in layers and you can get lots of work done!

Don’t let weeds be a hazard from your plot. Remove seed heads from docks
and use the black bag rotting technique to ensure they don’t get mixed
with proper compost until they are beyond germinating.

Reduce the need for strimming weeds and you remove the chore of keeping your
plot tidy whilst you’re working on it. It makes sense to not have to mow
or trim your plot so get the weeds covered up somehow!