Allotment Update No. 1

2010 July 17
by Chris Vernon

Erica and I received the key to our new allotment this week. It’s new not only to us but also to allotmenting in general by the looks of it, with no evidence of previous cultivation. It’s around 8m by 30m and currently just grass with a smattering of thistles and nettles. It runs east-west on a slightly south sloping site.

Allotment

Initial condition - 16th July 2010.

First job has been to hack back the foliage so we can get to the ground to dig the beds. Size and shape of beds is currently under discussion – any ideas?
Allotment

8 meter square cleared, ready to be dug.

The one crop we should get this year is blackberries!
Allotment

This year's blackberries.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. July 17, 2010

    Congratulations!

    You’ve cut off the long growth and made a compost heap – excellent.

    Don’t dig! Use a spade to cut the turf, maybe top inch or two of soil and turn it over burying partially the greenery, but do this only on beds about 4 feet wide and as long as you like. Create paths between by digging a trough a spade spit deep and wide and dumping the soil on top of the new deep beds.

    Principles:

    Maximise depth of soil in beds.
    Disturb soil as little as possible to allow fungi to develop.
    Add as much organic matter to surface as possible.
    Allow worms to do the digging.
    Never tread on a bed – keep to the paths.

  2. Will Stewart permalink
    July 17, 2010

    Ditto to what Biff has to say. If you took up the entire 30x8m area with beds, you could have 36 1m x 3.25m beds with .5m walkways in between. So far, my raised beds are informal like Biff mentions, though I will be converting at least 8 of them to framed-in raised beds that can be used as cold frames. The framing helps to purposefully define where the walkway stops and bed starts, which also helps with keeping weeds down in the nether-between area. Newspapers laid thickly in the walkway with straw on top helps to keep the weeds at bay there. I use composted hay or lambing pen straw to cover the beds as a mulch to keep the weeds down there. Some beds I dig in sheep and chicken manure, others I layer compost on top.

    I do a lot of companion planting with a plant family rotations. One excellent reference (though many of the pest and beneficial insects will be different) is “Great Garden Companions”, which walks one through garden design, preparing the beds, selection of plants and their beneficial companions, knowing which insects are harmful and how to attract the beneficial ones, etc.

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Great-Garden-Companions/Sally-Jean-Cunningham/e/9780875968476

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