New allotment, need advice on how to clear the area and best make use of the land

Any tips on what to do with this new plot? Large area full of grass and weeds. I am new to this and never grown my own vegetables. Do I rotivate the land of hand pick all the weeds? How is it best to make use of this land

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i’ve just seen a video from charles dowding making a new no-dig bed by laying out cardboard (to suppress weeds) and compost 8n top of it. there are lots of videos of him on youtube and facebook, and of course great books too! :slight_smile: i definetly would try this.

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Dependant on the size of your plot Nicola, you may want to divide it up a bit before you start.

If its a big plot, and you don’t think you will get to all of it this year, invest in some heavy duty weed mat and cover the area you don’t want to use. This will kill off the grass and give you an area to work from if you want to build or store anything in the mean time.

For the other areas, give it a good mow first to see what you have - you can use the weedy grass for paths, and the more you mow them, the better they will become. Mark out the beds you want and then give them a dig by hand - this way you can watch out for cooch grass or bind weed.

Make sure you plan for everything you want on your plot - greenhouse or polytunnel? shed? trees? somewhere to sit? and account for that space when you’re setting up.

And good luck!

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Plan in three dimensions - find out what the maximum allowed height of trees is on your plot and plan for some fruit trees or similar.

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Hi Nicola

How exciting!

As suggested by someone else, tackle a manageable area first.
If you try to do it all at once, it might become overwhelming.
You could probably grow some things in containers for the time being, until you decide on the overall plan, if your allotment is quite secure.

Other than that, I would suggest:

  • Think about what you want to grow, what you like to eat.
  • Is there anything you particularly like that is either difficult to get or expensive in the supermarket?
  • What kit will you need to grow it? If you want to grow cucumbers and tomatoes, for example, you might want to add a greenhouse and therefore you’ll want to choose the best spot on your plot for it, before putting in any raised beds.
  • What are your neighbours growing? Things that grow successfully in their plots are likely to grow successfully in yours too. Although this isn’t guaranteed as their ground might be boggier and other such factors.
    Your fellow allotmenteers might also have a bit of a plant/seed swap going on.

Bear in mind, if you rotivate, you might end up spreading some weeds about. If you have bindweed for example, that can grow from the tiniest bit of root. So if you chop up the root with the rotivator, you could end up spreading it about.

I can’t see if you have a shed, but whether you have one already or are planning to get one, don’t forget guttering and a water butt. Your plants will thank you if you can give them as much rain water (instead of tap water) as possible.
Same goes for a compost heap of some kind.

There’s lots more I could say, but don’t wa6to bombard you.
Someone else has mentioned about YouTube and there are loads of great videos on there about growing food and allotment management. So hopefully you’ll be able to see lots of examples on there.

Best of luck.
Let us know how you get on :slightly_smiling_face:

Amy

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I took on my allotment as a newbie towards the end of summer last year and I have spent many of these months since deciding how to lay it out and what to grow. It was in a mess and it had lots of weeds, couch grass and bindweed. It had been rotavated in spring which simply cut up all the bindweed and spread it all over the plot. So I would suggest skipping the rotavating process. I think the most important thing is to take photos often to show your progress. Then a shed or place to store tools and things. Definitely a place to sit and rest and enjoy your plot. I thought long and hard about paths and beds and eventually decided to have all raised beds of 1 meter width and 60 cm paths with wood chip in between. Took months to do but should be easy to manage this year. I dug out all the beds to 2 foot to get out all the rubbish and bindweed and put 6 inches of rotted cow manure on top of every bed. There have been no weeds at all since summer so I’m hopeful I won’t need to spend time weeding this year. I decided to have some perennials and chose what I like to eat, so I have one larger bed for asparagus and have ordered 30 one year old crowns due to arrive in March. I also bought and planted three rhubarb plants, an early, mid season and late variety which are starting to shoot now. I love globe artichokes so I will be planting out my ten currently very small artichoke plants in spring. I’m not keen on bush fruits so I haven’t planned on planting raspberries etc, but I love strawberries and have 30 runners ready to plant in spring. As for annuals, I decided that growing up should help me get more vegetables for the ground space. I have all sorts of climbing varieties for peas, french beans and the usual runner beans. I have yet to erect their supporting structures but I have 20 steel rods and a roll heavy duty wire fencing. I’m planning on making tall archways so the climbing plants can climb high but hopefully I will be able to harvest from the arches quite easily. All of my work and plans have yet to be proven as it’s still early in the year but hopefully I’ll be able to let you know how it goes during the summer.
Happy allotmenteering.

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Forgot to mention the compost bin area and water. I made three large compost bins in a row out of old pallets and in autumn last year I went around the local parks and collected loads of leaves to fill two of the compost bins, as they were sitting empty. I got 5 water buts in a row and attached the largest to the shed roof to catch as much rain water as possible during this winter. Our allotment site does not allow hosepipes etc and my plot is a long way from the nearest tap.
By the way, most of the things I have used on my plot are free from other people or bought second hand so the setting up of my plot wasn’t expensive.

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Just to emphasize what a couple of others have said: don’t try and tackle it all at once, do it in stages… and watch Charles Dowding videos about No Dig - I knew nothing about growing vegetables and was lucky to go on a one day course he ran, and I haven’t looked back… you just cover an area with cardboard and then put loads of manure on in the first year. I planted straight into it, and even though I got some funny looks from other plot holders, it worked really well. Rotovating isn’t good for the soil infrastructure and doesn’t necessarily kill the weeds as they just get turned back into the soil… No Dig is the way to go!!!

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