Allotment success is all about making a good start. Whatever the time of year, you need to be working your plot from week one.
In the first few weeks, ideally you need to allow at least four hours a week to work your plot – digging, tidying and preparing to grow.
Digging your plot can be daunting. The best advice is not to over do it on day one, allow several short visits to cultivate your plot and work to a ground plan.
Using the right tools for the job is also important – a mattock (a pickaxe-shaped tool) and a small fork are ideal for digging out clods of earth. Remember, please don’t pile clods and soil at the end of your plot – this is your best growing soil so you need to leave it where it is!
Weeds and the chemical conundrum
Many tenants want to have organic plots but one well-timed, careful application of herbicide can make all the difference in the early stages. It can make clearing perennial weeds much easier and will greatly reduce the chance of them coming back.
One chemical-free way of tackling the task is to cover, say, half of your plot with weed membrane, such as Mypex or black plastic. This can be left for a year and then, when you’re happy that you have the other half of your plot under control, you can peel back the cover and it should be virtually weed-free underneath.
As well as cultivation, you will need to remove any waste materials left by the previous tenant. Hopefully they will have removed their belongings, but some inorganic waste may need clearing and removing from the allotment site.
This clearance can be spread over a few months but please do not burn anything on your plot that is not organic. This is in breach of allotment rules and potentially toxic to your soil as well as upsetting to local residents.