Author Topic: Leaving the old and starting anew  (Read 857 times)

gwynleg

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Leaving the old and starting anew
« on: October 09, 2017, 17:28:32 »
HI , I am sadly leaving behind my allotment of 10 years plus and starting again. Leaving the well tended plot with fruit bushes and trees, asparagus and strawberry beds, raised beds, covered paths, small shed and greenhouse. Moving to a new 10 pole plot with the usual perennial weeds and not much else..... Not allowed to have sheds or buildings as in an area of outstanding beauty (the beauty is, of course, a bonus!)

I move between being excited to start again with a blank canvass and feeling very daunted. Think I will need reminding that I need the long term view. It doesn't all have to be done by spring planting...

I think I will need to ask for lots of advice and views on this. The first of these is to ask if it sounds in any way sensible to buy bare rooted fruit trees (think they are cheaper?) now and to put them in big pots ready for planting maybe in spring once the plot is a bit more organised and less weedy?

Also when is the best time to put in asparagus? Do I need to wait till next year to make sure I have really really cleared the bed of weeds...?
Thanks for any advice particular ly from those who have done this move already

Obelixx

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2017, 18:39:01 »
We haven't move allotment but have moved house, leaving behind a mature but still developing garden and veggie plot and fruits and swapping it for a large, almost empty garden.    We brought plants with us in pots and troughs and are still tending them as there has been a drought here so we haven't been able to dig ground and make beds.

We'll be buying bare root fruit trees this autumn and will have to plant them in pots till we have their new home prepared.  I have raspberries and blackberries bought this spring and still in pots along with a purple gooseberry we brought with us.   As long as the roots don't get frozen or too dry they'll be fine.
Obxx - Vendée France

Paulh

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2017, 21:30:11 »
Get it in hand a bit at a time as you can manage it. Mow/strim or cover the rest.

Get rid of perennial weeds before most permanent plantings - couch grass, dock and bindweed in asparagus will weaken the plants; in raspberries you'll never get rid of it; in gooseberries it's doable but you'll need protective clothing!

Most of all, you are starting with a clean sheet, so it's your chance to do better what you think you didn't get right last time!

Digeroo

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2017, 07:32:00 »
I think this will be quite a wrench.  But will give you an opportunity to plan things well from the start.  I think you will have to concentrate on the excitement at the new plot.  And the outstanding beauty.  Though that might mean lots of lovely wildlife (pests!!)
New friends, new aspect.  Lots of work.  Enjoy the challenge.

I think buying bareroots plants and potting them is a good idea, though I have found they need huge amounts of water.  No need to wait for them to pot them.

We are  not allowed sheds as we are next to a nature reserve.  Though we do have a communal one which can be useful.  I have never had one so suppose I do not know what I am missing.

Take cuttings of your fruit.  Gooseberries move remarkably well even quite large.

gwynleg

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2017, 08:27:27 »
Thanks all for your advice- it is really helpful. Digeroo, it hadn't occurred to me that beauty might go along with different pests than my town based previous allotment. We were up there surveying last night (i.e. standing and staring at all that had to be done) and met some neighbours who mentioned deer and rabbits......Looking around though lots of things are still growing there without fencing or anything so hopefully not too much of a problem.

Borlotti

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2017, 20:52:41 »
I have enjoyed 14 years on my allotment, but think this will be the last, especially if we move.  I could have only done it for 14 years as retired at 60 so had time to spend.  Now I am 74 (I don't believe it), finding it too much for me.  I will miss my lovely apple tree, and my friends at the allotment.  I will decide before next April, when we have to pay the Council, then give it up, as so many people keep the allotments and can't maintain them, so hopefully someone else will enjoy it as much as me.  As long as I have a small garden, I will be a happy bunny. Still think it was the best decision I made to take it on 14 years ago, and have had so much pleasure out of it, and met so many lovely people.

gwynleg

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2017, 13:08:02 »
Ah Borlotti - I have enjoyed your posts over time. Hope you get a garden to meet your needs and wishes!

We have started work on our new allotment. Gulp, it is far worse than expected! I was digging over a very small area and took out 3 bags full of bindweed roots - lots more deeper down where I havent got to them yet!

Anyone got experience of 'no-dig' on allotments? I have some black membrane which worked really well on less thuggish plants, but wondered how it copes with bindweed, nettles, brambles, etc? The no dig website says to dig out the brambles, but the nettles and bindweed are everywhere so this wouldn't be 'no-dig' at all!!

Tee Gee

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2017, 15:38:29 »

Quote
Anyone got experience of 'no-dig' on allotments? I have some black membrane which worked really well on less thuggish plants, but wondered how it copes with bindweed, nettles, brambles, etc? The no dig website says to dig out the brambles, but the nettles and bindweed are everywhere so this wouldn't be 'no-dig' at all!!

There is no other way of saying it gwynleg..... there is no way other than digging stuff out, particularly if you want to go the "No Dig" route!

I have been removing weeds from  my plot for the last 25 years and I still get them every year.

Very often you have no control how these weeds get there as they can blow in on the wind, come from your home made compost or from farm yard manure, and just think what your book/s have said.......add copious amounts of organic matter


What if your added ' organic material' is from any of the above sources and you put it on top of what you have.......to my mind you could well have worsened the situation for your self! 

Then all the membrane, mulches etc  in the world will not get rid of the Dandelions, Docks, Fat hen, Willow herb, Creeping buttercup, Brambles, Stinging Nettles that will come from any or all of the sources I mentioned above. ( Yes even after 25 years I still have these!)

For what it is worth I would dig the plot before the onset of winter and hope for a hard winter and hopefully this will reduce the weed problem drastically.

Do not cover the area dug!

Let the weather get into it, plus if it is a hard winter wildlife will forage for seeds (weed seeds).

Have a look at this: http://www.thegardenersalmanac.co.uk/Data/Soil-Preparation/soil%20preparation%20ss.swf

Then when you have got on top of your current lot of weeds you can then go the " No Dig" route and hopefully the weed situation will be manageable.

As I said there are no simple routes to getting rid of weeds unless you blast them with a herbicide but even then.....they will come in again on the wind or in your organic matter!

OK I don't mind saying that I am not an advocate of the "No Dig" method and I prefer the centuries old technique of turning the soil over (ploughing / digging) but f you do find a way of proving me wrong I would appreciate you telling me how you did it.

Best of luck..Tg


squeezyjohn

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2017, 19:22:58 »
No-dig is certainly not an "easy alternative" to the traditional yearly dig, but it is not without its merits.  For every small area of ground you would otherwise dig, you will have to make, buy or find for free a large wheelbarrowful of well composted organic matter and transport it to your plot and carry on topping it up every year.  I'm sure you end up doing more work than by digging a plot ... but if you follow it faithfully you will end up with some amazing soil with a beautiful structure.

When you take on a plot with brambles, nettles, mares tail, bindweed and dock ... I'm sorry ... no amount of mulch will get rid of it and it will grow right through, even if Charles Dowding comes and does it personally!  You have to dig the majority of the roots you can find out in the beginning.  Little bits will then grow through mulch too but will be manageable along with the annual weed seeds if you are able to hoe every few days.  Only when they are already physically weakened by digging does repeated hoeing kill them off.

I consider myself to be an advocate of "no-dig" even though I routinely have to dig up a sneaky dock that made it past my negligence because I have defined beds and paths and I don't dig the whole beds every year as a matter of course and spread mulch on top every year.  More important than the words "no-dig" are the words "no walking on the soil unless you absolutely need to" (and the correct choice of bed size can mean this is never).  I do however value Tee Gees experience and advice on this forum as his methods clearly work too.

So in conclusion ... good luck with the new plot ... I'm sure you'll be fine!  Just bear in mind that the "no-dig" method is a misleading name and entails at least as much work as the traditional digging method ... probably the main reason that its critics are so vocal!

Tee Gee

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2017, 20:49:25 »
Quote
Just bear in mind that the "no-dig" method is a misleading name and entails at least as much work as the traditional digging method ... probably the main reason that its critics are so vocal!

Couldn't have put it better myself John!

I dig and I add loads of manure every year and the quality of my soil is very good but not without all hard work I have put in over the years.

Now I can actually push my spade into my soil without aid of my foot,although it is easier with the assistance of my foot.

So choose which way you improve your soil it will always be hard work plus you will always have WEEDS although once you have bottomed your initial weeding it could be said that it is slightly easier.

In my opinion you  only get the results out of your plot commensurate with the effort you put in.

So call it " No Dig" or Dig" method  either way is hard work

squeezyjohn

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2017, 21:42:30 »
Quote
Just bear in mind that the "no-dig" method is a misleading name and entails at least as much work as the traditional digging method ... probably the main reason that its critics are so vocal!

Couldn't have put it better myself John!

I dig and I add loads of manure every year and the quality of my soil is very good but not without all hard work I have put in over the years.

Nice to have some agreement on this subject ;-)  I don't dig every year ... I hoe off the weeds and put the manure/compost/leaf mould/spent hops directly on the surface of the soil in the winter to let the worms get it underground.  Nonetheless, the work you put in to the ground is pretty much directly proportional to what you get out of it.

gwynleg

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2017, 15:16:48 »
Thanks for all the wise words. I was struggling as really couldn't see how any mulch would cope with the level of perennial weeds we have, so all of your comments really fit with this. We are going to cover with black membrane as much as possible initially as I found this weakens the weeds and makes it easier to dig. We will then pull it back bit by bit and weed!

On my last allotment (to which I said a slightly tearful goodbye this morning), I guess I was mostly practising no-dig with demarcated/raised beds which I would fill up with manure every year. However the couch grass, dandelions and bind weed always needed some digging out so familiar with this!

Just been up there again with OH and have dug out a large mound to fill a large hole. It really is pitted like the Somme - not quite sure why! This bit had lots and lots of nettles but no apparent bind weed, so its interesting seeing whats what. We found a bit of hidden treasure in lots of bulbs (probably daffodils) so will find a place for them (probably in a pot at this stage?!). Beautiful day here so wonderful start to working on this new allotment.

Thanks again for all the comments - happy always to have any words of advice!

Tee Gee

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2017, 15:47:16 »
BTW this is what my plot (the one in the slideshow) looked like when I took it over about 15 years ago, plus a picture of it in 2011

antipodes

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2017, 08:50:17 »
You can get away with digging by doing what Charles Dowding shows, which is to put a copious layer of cardboard over the weedy bits, then put the compost over that. Just mulch is not enough but I found that cardboard is the most effective for really killing the perennials. With his method you are no longer really planting in your soil but in a thick layer that you have provided. This year our spuds were not great as the soil was too dry but I got a suprising large late harvest from some forgotten spuds that had grown in piles of rotted down material.  Much better than what was actually planted in the ground.
2012 - Snow in February, non-stop rain till July. Blight and rot are rife. Thieving voles cause strife. But first runner beans and lots of greens. Follow an English allotment in urban France: http://roos-and-camembert.blogspot.com

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2017, 20:04:12 »
Perennial weeds are your problem?
Hopefully they are the result of past  neglect and that means of control will enable you to get on top of them. Tee Gee points out that weed seeds will blow in.That is equal in either dig or no_dig, a constant if you like; unless you can manage those supplying areas.
The difference is in annual weeds which may have seeded from within the plot for generations and built up seed reserves. Each year ,if you turn over the soil, you will bring up viable seeds which will germinate. Note the appearance of poppies in sprayed fields where the cultivation has gone just a little deeper than average. Worse in many respects is rotovation,
which not only brings up annual weeds seeds, but does a fair job of dividing and producing 'cuttings' of the likes of buttercup, couch, dock, anything with rhizome/tuber root.
Antipodes remarks upon her success with blanking out existing weeds with thick cardboard and mulch, which matches my  own success doing the same, in defeating pasture weeds to convert a nondescript field corner using this method. I would not claim to be weed -free, but find that removing  'immigrant 'weeds rooted in, but not through, mulch ,is very easy by hand , and my hoe is almost as rusty as my spade.
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Vinlander

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2017, 12:46:29 »

Each year ,if you turn over the soil, you will bring up viable seeds which will germinate. Note the appearance of poppies in sprayed fields where the cultivation has gone just a little deeper than average.

The classic advice for annuals is to let the buggers sprout and then hoe them - or they could be killed at the same stage by a deep mulch as the start of no-dig. In a digging system you can reduce the seed load every year with a sheet mulch - easier to lift and replace to continue the process.

Cheers.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

gwynleg

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2017, 13:18:23 »
I think I am going to experiment and see these horrible weeds as a 'good opportunity'! As the whole plot either needs digging, mulching or both, I am going to try a variety of things.

At the back of the plot the council planted lots of raspberries (not sure which type) to act as a hedge but off course this is overrun with nettles. I am thinking that I will create a no weed land buffer to this by putting down heavy black polythene after digging. I will also put closed black rubble sacks on top of this (these contain all the perennial weeds that I want to break down as compost eventually....). Then in the rest of the plot, i am going to try areas of a) digging, b) black membrane over manure mulch, and c) cardboard and manure mulches. I will see how these are doing come the spring and maybe continue or not, depending also on how far we have been able to dig out the perennials anyway!

First I will also have to clear all the debris left behind. Some rubbish, some treasures! We have so far found a wheelbarrow, 3 forks, 2 shears, a compost bin, a bag of cable ties and some yellow piping. We nervously joke to each other that its like finding the bodies of the last people who tried to clear this plot and failed! From what we understand its been pretty much uncultivated for 7 years at least, but the council have at least trimmed it from time to time....! It has been used as a site for communal manure and woodchip so hopefully one end of the plot will be healthy - but this is where the worst bindweed seems to be.....

antipodes

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2017, 15:12:32 »
You see Charles Dowding doing some weeding, he pulls out little seedlings as they emerge. However the other thing he seems to do, as seen on his videos, is that he plants incredibly close together, much closer than you would normally see on most plots. Sometimes he actually has to push aside one plant to harvest the row next to it. I would imagine this makes it hard for weed seeds to get onto the soil in the first place (if wind dispersed) and also blocks out light, making them weak under the actual crops. He also never seems to leave anything bare, once something is taken out, it is immediately replaced by something else (he does seem to sometimes dress more compost on the soil but this not seem to be systematic). So weeds never have time to take hold.
2012 - Snow in February, non-stop rain till July. Blight and rot are rife. Thieving voles cause strife. But first runner beans and lots of greens. Follow an English allotment in urban France: http://roos-and-camembert.blogspot.com

gwynleg

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2017, 15:15:03 »
Hmm, not sure that I will be able to be always ready with more plants to put in, but I can try! I want to put more flowers in this year too so maybe that can help a bit. He seems to get very good crops from looking after the soil so planting close together must work well, although it seems counter intuitive.

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2017, 16:35:08 »
Remember Charles Dowding is a commercial grower, its not a hobby, he has perfected his technique over 30 years or so. The site at Homeacres is his back garden and is in its fourth year.

We can take from his freely given advice as much as we want, your trial and error experimentation will give you the answers to your plot and hopefully you will report your progress, and any problems that are not resolved.
 I started my trial on my new plot on 20/03/16 .Its heavy London clay which was woodland until 30 years ago. It's quite wet, it has clumps of rushes here and there.
i commenced digging, which was somewhat heavy going-it nearly killed me!! . I decided to create raised beds to raise crops above the water table, and have found the' no-dig' has given good crops for two seasons and have no reason not to continue in this manner.
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Re: Leaving the old and starting anew
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2017, 16:35:08 »