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How To Clear An Allotment (page 3)


How To Clear An Allotment
(page 3)

Step 4 is to cover the soil with a mulch. Weeds and grass cannot grow for long without light and a mulch will exclude light.To kill the weeds completely with mulch will take six to nine months but even four weeks in the dark will seriously weaken most weeds.

Leave about two weeks worth of digging uncovered. The cheapest form of mulch in large volumes is probably old discarded carpet which should be free.

One way to get hold of enough is to put a small advert in your local newsagent. You will be surprised at the high number of people who are only too glad for you to take their old carpets off their hands!

Try and avoid the rubber backed carpets. Old ones disintegrate and the rubber does not compost.

Allotment with part plastic mulch The other alternative mulch is black plastic. It will exclude the light exactly the same as old carpet but is far less bulky. You will have to buy it (Silage Sheet from an agricultural merchants is the cheapest way) but it can easily be re-used or even resold on E-bay if you clean it up. The picture on the left (click to enlarge) shows a partially covered allotment.

Do make sure that you weight down the plastic with lots of bricks or whatever rubble is available. An alternative used by many allotment holders is old tyres. They are heavy and the tyre replacement shops are only too glad to get rid of them for free.

Step 5 is to dig over the uncovered portion of the allotment. Dig to about 1 to 1� spades depth and remove weeds and roots as you go. Both weeds and grass roots will make this hard work but the rotovator will have taken much of the sting out of the job.

The picture on the right (click to enlarge) shows the density of couch grass roots you will encounter in an overgrown allotment. Click here for our page on eradicating couch grass. Grass roots through the soil. Click to enlarge picture.

Step 6 is to continue digging the allotment, moving the mulch further up the plot as you go. The weeds and grass will have grown under the but they will look yellow and be severely weakened. The mulch will prevent the work of the rotovator being undone.

The method described above is the one we believe works best but there are of course others. Some of them are listed below for information.

1. Clear the weeds and grass by spraying with a herbicide such as glycophosphate. The land will be cleared in roughly two weeks and the plot can be dug over as normal. The manufacturers of such herbicides claim they are environmentally safe. However there is mounting evidence that glycophosphate harms amphibians such as frogs. Harming one class of animal results in harm to other classes of animal who depend on them.

2. Simply dig the weeds and grass into the ground. We tried this and found the work was back-breaking. Clearing a full-sized allotment in this way might well take an entire summer.

3. Cover the entire allotment with plastic mulch for 9 months. This definitely will kill almost all weeds and grass stone dead but it does take a long time.

Whichever method you use we, at GardenAction, wish you every success.