Saturday, 16 November 2013

Taking on a New Plot

Any person new to having a plot on an allotment should consider the amount of time and effort looking after a plot might take.  Obviously in the end only by having one will a plot ever know what it means, but suffice it to say the best plots on any allotment tend to be those managed by people who spend at least an hour daily.

If you feel such a commitment might be too much why not consider a half plot?  Whilst not necessarily half the effort, it should certainly be easier for the new allotmenteer.  If you are considering a half plot and one has not been offered, why not ask?

So you have accepted a plot, what is your first task?  Always check your new plot for hazards. Do this at the time you accept it and also do a more thorough inspection in your own time.  You should be looking for anything from broken glass to barbed wire, rusty nails, brambles - even nettles. Especially if you have children ensure the plot is as clear of hazards as possible before you bring them along.

Unless you live close, the next thing to consider is a shed.  Some plots may include a shed: if not, then you may want to buy and install one.  Once you have a shed then you should ensure you have some basic tools.  These should include protective "gardening" gloves and suitable footwear.  Thence visit your nearest hardware stores and garden centres for a range of tools. Spending more on a few decent tools, rather than buying lots of cheap ones can save you money in the long run.

Whatever size of plot you take on, consider whether to get the whole plot under control at once as it may be too much to do initially.  Clearing your plot a little at a time may work better for you: you’ll concentrate your efforts on a patch that can become productive quickly.

As soon as you clear a patch, get some produce growing in it. If you don’t, weeds will be back.
Small beds with paths in-between enable you to prepare only the soil that you are going to grow in. Start off modestly: Crops such as  potatoes or squashes can be simple to grow and also help break up the soil.

Also some plants are known as green manures.  Planting these can help by both suppress weeds and at the same time add to soil fertility.

Consider covering other areas with a mulch.  This can suppress the weeds and make it easier to clear and prepare later. There are a variety of methods for mulching techniques ranging from organic materials to black plastic membrane.

Identifying weeds can be difficult when you are new to gardening. It’s best not to assume what type of weeds you have or how to remedy them, as you can actually increase the numbers of many weeds by not dealing with them correctly. Identifying weeds and other plants can easily be done by asking
other plotholders, looking at pictures in gardening books, the internet, local library or other gardening resources.

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