Allotment Update No. 8

2010 November 21
by Chris Vernon

Follow the allotment series here.

The allotment had previously been a grassy meadow, so we thought the soil could do with some improvement. A local organic farmer was offering trailer loads of well rotted cow manure for the bargain price of £20. After one failed attempt (due to a locked gate-top) we took delivery:

Manure arrives, 14th Nov 2010

Unfortunately, the tractor couldn’t get all the way in to our allotment, so the whole four and a half tonne pile needed to be moved approximately 20m:

It all needs moving, 17th Nov 2010

It took a long time and a lot of wheelbarrow loads:

Half done, 21st Nov 2010

After 88 wheelbarrow journeys it was done!

All done! 21st Nov 2010

We put some of it onto the beds already dug (~1 barrow load per square metre), and heaped up the rest in the corner:

Distributed between the beds and a heap in the corner, 21st Nov 2010

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Emma permalink
    December 5, 2010

    Hi Chris, how are you guys keeping on top of the grass? We tried scything in a bid to stay fossil-fuel-free but just couldn’t keep on top of it. About to start paying someone with a petrol strimmer (can’t afford to get our own yet & suspect too heavy for me anyway). Have you got a better solution? I hope so 🙂

  2. Chris Vernon permalink*
    December 5, 2010

    We’ve used shears so far!

    But long term I think the answer is to get rid of most of the grass.

  3. December 17, 2010

    You might try one of these machines. These guys at Greenpowerscience have some crazy but practical equipment. I know its not California, but hey its not fossil fuel either.

    Taking on an overgrown allotment is a real labour of love – I fondly remember!
    Lawrence Hills – founder figure of the Henry Doubleday Research Association ( and who wrote excellent books on the subject sums it up nicely : “One years weeds = seven years seeds”.

    It’s true. Not only will perennial weeds such as dock, nettle, couchgrass, dandelion, hogweed, clover, ground elder and buttercup keep reappearing because the roots are in the ground; the seeds which are already in the soil will continue to produce new weed seedlings for up to 7 years.

    The only way to get the perennial roots out (if you’ve got lots) is to rotavate or double dig the whole plot to between 450mm-600mm deep and hand pick the roots. The new weed seedlings need to be hoed, trampled, weeded (whatever) as they appear to prevent new perennial root formation.

    Buttercup and clover need to be pulled up as they grow by runners and will carpet the area and continuously invade the prepared beds; strangling your cultivars. Raising your beds can be helpful in increasing productivity in the meantime. Good luck

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