New Allotment. I'm confused. What should I do?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  BenS 5 months ago.

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    Hi everyone!

    I’m new here and new to growing.

    I acquired an allotment in October and want to use the organic no dig method, however I’m not sure if what I’ve already done is wrong? I’ve read various articles and forum posts on here and I’m just confusing myself unfortunately, hence why I’m asking here.

    As I have horsetail (argh!) I lightly used a fork to pull up the weeds and cleared the beds the best I could before covering the beds with black plastic as advised by my allotment neighbours.

    I understand that the horsetail is nasty stuff and will keep coming back but I’m prepared to keep on top of the weeding as necessary, which will gradually weaken it.

    The allotment has been neglected for at least 2 years and I’m unsure of the previous tenants style of growing. Such as whether they grew organically or using pesticides, and I’m also unsure of the condition of the soil.

    Firstly, have I done the right thing by removing the weeds, clearing the beds and covering them up?

    Secondly, I would like to add compost on top of the soil in the beds (which are raised slightly) but I’m not sure if I should do that now to give it time for the worms etc to ‘dig it in’ for me or whether I should leave it until the beginning of the growing season? Spring? This should hopefully improve the soil below I believe?

    Also, if anyone has any other hints & tips to help me get started? (kindly please dont suggest use of animal manures/animal products as I do not wish to use any animal products) I would be extremely grateful.

    I look forward to getting to know you all and thank you in advance for any advice kindly given and gratefully received. I hope to get more involved as I learn and grow! (my allotment and my knowledge!)

    Take care and a very happy new year to you all!




    Can only answer as to how I would proceed.
    Yes, remove as much as possible and cover. No reason why not to apply your compost under the cover. It will warm the surface and get the worms busy!.Its quite likely that the marestail will reappear. Its one of a few plants that predate the dinosaurs!!, it appears in coal measure profiles!, its a survivor. The covering should exclude light; therefore reducing its ability to photosynthesise.
    Remove cover, pull out all evident shoots, thereby weakening it.
    Persistence will let you win-eventually!
    I fear to comment regarding your expressed attitude to animal manures, only to say that you effectively are working with one resource short of a set.
    Good luck



    Thank you Cleansweep 😁

    That’s definitely the plan of action. I’ll keep you posted on how I get on.

    Thanks again x



    Hi from Hazel,

    I also do not use animal products on my plot. Have used green waste, mushroom compost and now my own compost from last year.
    So far, everything grows very well. Thankfully, had no marestail when I took on the plot, just lots of chest high thistles and nettles (I am very small!). This is my second year and they are all subdued with initial cardboard mulch. An odd seedling needs removing, but no sign of perennial growth emerging.
    Now puttin on an inch of compost on the beds for this seasons growth.
    Have fun, the initial work is heavy, but once it is tamed it is such lovely work.


    tidy beard

    I’ve just be reading your post and wondered if anyone saw this article at the weekend:

    Unfortunately I think it is only available in Greece and Cyprus for now.



    Many thanks for the link. My yields were bigger in my second year without animal manure. We will see what happens this year.



    How long should you leave the black cover on for? Im in a similar boat (bindweed instead of marsetail), but only plan to cover this weekend, but wanted to do some growing this year.

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