This one goes out to all you new allotment holders out there…
This week I came to the realisation that I need to work smart, not hard at the allotment.
And the reason why I came to this conclusion is because there’ll be approximately four weeks (on and off) away from the plot, during a time whereby the weeds have prime opportunity to take over and undo the last eight month’s hard graft.
Not keeping abreast of weed growth is where I went wrong last year, and spurred me on to start again with the plot. Not only have I needed to clear the plot of weeds, but I need to start implementing techniques to reduce weed growth in the first place.
I did a post last year about how to keep on top of your plot while you’re away – you can read it here, but I left out two things from that list that I’ve recently got in to the habit of doing.
Covering up unused ground
Following a talk with Charles Dowding regarding No Dig gardening, I’ve decided to cover up areas where I’m not growing anything and areas that are likely to see some weed growth over the summer.
The idea behind this is to restrict the sunlight that weeds need to grow. I’ve used plastic sheeting, but I hear that cardboard and strips of carpet are just as effective.
In the middle of the plot, I had a slabbed pathway, and I decided to pull them up and replace with grass – except the grass seed isn’t down yet.
I have a sneaking suspicion that grass seed will not grow as fast as the weeds at this time of year.
I didn’t want to delay with starting on the second side of the plot so I decided to lay plastic down for the time being, after I dug over the ground so that nothing can grow.
Laying plastic down also helps with stopping the blow off seed from other weeds in the area to land in your beds and sow themselves into the soil.
Hoeing little and often
Another take home from the talk with Charles was “weed before you see the weeds…” And what that means is hoe or rake your beds little and often so that the weeds don’t have time to establish themselves.
Once hoed, the wind and air will kill off anything left on the surface. I’ve been quite good at keeping up this habit and I hoe at least once a week, or at the minimum once every two weeks – and it’s paid off thus far.
In all my years in having an allotment, this is the first time I’ve covered the beds that I’m not using and took an approach of hoeing little and often.
I think when you’re starting a new plot or even just rebuilding the one you have, it’s a good opportunity to take stock and see how you can adopt new beneficial habits to how you garden.
I hope these two little tips are useful and I’d love to read how you work smart and not hard in the garden in the comments below.