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How To Clear An Allotment (page 2)


How To Clear An Allotment
(page 2)

Whilst clearing 90% of the height of the weeds and grass you will probably have also cleared any large debris which is step 2 of clearing an allotment. If not, do it now. When you do this, store any rubble or bricks for use later on when mulching with black plastic, it will be useful in weighting it to the ground.

If you are cutting down any twigs, save these as well to use as supports for bean plants.

For step 3, we hired a rotovator to break up the soil surface. The allotment owner next to us used a rake however and it was definitely hard work. It also did little to break up the soil surface. However, if money is short, using a rake is obviously the way to clear the remaining weeds. It also has the benefit of removing all surface weeds and dramatically reduces the chances of weed and grass re-growth.

Before hiring a rotovator though, consider the following:

1. What will the weather be like on the day you choose to rotovate the allotment? If it's raining it's not really worth rotovating an allotment, you will simply end up in a mud bath. So keep an eye on the weather forecast a few days beforehand.

2. Talk to the hire company a week or so beforehand and find out if you need to book the rotovator. If you do need to book, what is the deposit and what happens to your deposit if rain makes it impossible to use the rotovator?

3. How will you get the rotovator from the hire company to your allotment? Many companies will deliver free but some won't or charge for it.

4. Is it feasible to get the rotovator from the entrance to the allotments to your particular allotment?

If you hire a rotovator to break up the soil surface don't expect too much. It will break up the top 5cm (2in) or so, which is a great help, but it will not fully cultivate the ground. It will also definitely require digging later. However, it will break up the surface and make the digging task very much easier.

Ask the hire shop which type of rotovator is best for your allotment and take their advice. If you hire a rotovator which is not up to the job it will be a waste of money. We ended up with a powerful hydraulic rotovator and it was well worth the money.

Result of one pass of the rotovator. Click to enlarge Also, don't underestimate the physical effort which will be required to control the rotovator! It will follow contours in the ground very strongly. Our advice is to hire the rotovator for one day only. Any more is a waste of time unless you are Tarzan and have loads of stamina. Do whatever you can in a day and deal with the rest in a different way.

The picture above (click it to enlarge it) shows the result of one pass of the rotovator. We found it necessary to go over the same ground twice and in some places three times.