New allotment need help

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by Jade86, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. Jade86

    Jade86 Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi we have just taken on an allotment and have zero experience. We have been clearing weeds and turning over the soil but it’s wet and like clay. Are we damaging the soil by doing it still ? The plan was to get the ground ready then cover till we are ready to plant. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. This is a pic of the small section I have done next to what it looked like.upload_2019-11-11_18-52-7.jpeg
     

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  2. ricky101

    ricky101 Total Gardener

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    Hi,

    No one come in yet ..?

    Compared to some overgrown plots yours looks in quiet good condition.

    Think carrying on your current plan of digging over and covering its a good thing, though do it on the drier days and take your time as its too easy to do yourself an injury in your haste to get it all done.

    They say spuds are a good crop for making the soil good after being unused, but the best advice is likely to come from the other allotment holders who have already found out what crops grow best and easiest in your soil.

    Could also look at putting in some Autumn onion sets if any left in the garden centers.

    Do you have a greenhouse or shed on your plot ?
    If not, worth looking on places like Gumtree or Preloved where you can often find decent greenhouses for free which will give you somewhere to shelter and enjoy a cuppa while sowing the new years seeds etc.
     
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    • Jade86

      Jade86 Apprentice Gardener

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      Yes it isn’t too bad of a plot, the only issue we have had is the super compacted clay wet soil.

      we have a green house and a shed that need some work doing to them
       
    • clanless

      clanless Total Gardener

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      Clay soil will stop/slow the water draining away - so you need to install some raised beds. Because - easier to condition soil, won't be stepped on and compacted, keeps plant roots away from water, shows where pathways are (when you walk on paths, the soil will compact and keep down weeds), can have different types of soil (acid/alkaline) to grow a wider variety of plants.

      Don't install too large sheds/greenhouses - check if your allotment association have any rules around sizes - each will stop water soaking into the ground beneath them and exacerbate any water logging issues.

      If it were me, I'd buy a shed first - keep tools secure and somewhere to brew up/sit in when the weather turns.

      Whether you need a greenhouse depends upon your intended use for the plot. If it's going to be productive - then you can largely get away without a greenhouse by planting direct (spuds/beans etc.). If it's more a leisure garden - then a greenhouse will be needed for starting off annuals etc.

      IMHO it's best to start with a blank canvas - so that the plot is configured to your liking. This time of year weedkiller will have little effect as weeds aren't really growing. It's probably best to dig them out now and control them with a glyphosate weedkiller when they return - you will never completely get rid of weeds - so don't be disheartened when they come back.

      This is a good time of year to take on an allotment - you can concentrate on preparing the plot ready for Spring - and won't be fighting constantly to keep weeds at bay.

      Enjoy :dbgrtmb:.
       
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      • Steve R

        Steve R Soil Furtler

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        Carry on as you are but don't cover it just yet, you cover it in early spring if your not ready to plant. Leaving it uncovered allows the frost to get at it which will help to break your soil down further. Even though you are on clay, it does not look like your on heavy clay, your soil looks quite good. Make sure you have a hoe to use and if small weedling seeds start coming through, hoe them off to stop them getting a grip again, ten minutes hoeing can cover a huge area.

        I think the idea of growing spuds to help clear ground is an old wives tale I'm afraid. You dig to plant spuds, dig a couple of times again to earth them up as they grow then dig them up to harvest. Its the gardener that clears the ground, not the spuds. Spuds are however a rewarding crop to grow.

        You have bed borders in place but it looks like the last plot holder did not finish the job, the gap between grass path and bed edge needs filling in, it's one less hiding spot for slugs and snails next year ;-)

        Another job you could do is clean out the greenhouse , use Jeyes fluid on all surfaces, you can clean where glass overlaps each other and algae grows, carefully with a seed label or old credit card etc.

        On each visit, take ten minutes to walk round your site, this will do two things.

        1. Help you meet fellow plot holders, you will get loads of advice for free!
        2. You will get a "feel" for how plot holders do things there, which in general terms will mostly be the best way to do things.

        Start a topic in the allotments section here on GC Allotments Discussion add some photo's and show us what your up to.

        Good luck !!

        Steve...:)
         
      • Coachman

        Coachman Apprentice Gardener

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        I have an article on my PC (much too big to insert here) but it makes the valid point Jade86 that, for every hard and fast piece of advice you'll receive, someone else will do the opposite. The value of spuds for 'cleaning' ground is based on the science that, because they're 90% water, they take up as much of it as they can, thus depriving hopeful weeds of what they want. The practice will therefore REDUCE weeds, but not exclude them altogether.

        As someone else said, your soil doesn't look too bad but clay is traditionally light in colour which reflects sunlight. The darker the soil, the more warmth it absorbs and just one degree can help get your seeds off to a good start. If you can source tea bags, coffee grounds, or anything else organic that is dark coloured - chat up your local café owner - they'll be a big help in this respect. Even soot from the local sweep isn't out of the question but will need time to blend in.

        If, as I did, you find a strawberry grower in your area, they'll probably grow the crop in growbags that are changed every year. Dug into your soil, they'll break it up nicely and darken it but, whatever it is the strawberries take out of the bags, they leave behind what onions like. I gently placed the contents of the bags intact on the surface of my plot and planted my onion sets in them. This provided a great first crop before I dug them in at the end of the season.
         
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