Getting The Plot In Order

As I said in our previous post, we started renting out allotment at the end of September 2018. It was in a right state when I first walked onto the plot with weeds as high as me and I stand at 5’9. 

There was some benefits to the plot tho, she (yes I do refer to the plot as a women) came with a shed and greenhouse. The shed has discoloured windows and needs a lick of paint but it’s a shed, having a shed already on the plot is a god send. They are not cheap to buy new and also even if I did get a second hand one I wouldn’t be able to get it from it’s previous location to the plot as I don’t drive, I do really need to get round to sorting that out.

The greenhouse is amazing to have on the plot already as well. It has a few broken panes of glass broken and it was full to the brim on the inside with weeds, as they have broken through the concrete floor. But it is still a green house and with a little hard work it will be ready for us to use this year.

So it was time to tackle the weeds, I wanted to find out what I was dealing with before I went hacking away at it all and it turned out I have the dreaded mares tail / horses tail. 

“Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), often called mare’s tail, is an invasive, deep-rooted perennial weed that will spread quickly to form a dense carpet of foliage, crowding out less vigorous plants in beds and borders.”

This is a real pain of a weed to deal with due to it being a fast-growing rhizomes (underground stems) kind of weed and they have taken over the whole plot. I can even see them sneaking into my neighbouring plot which will be a pain for them. There is many ways of getting rid of it and there is none that get rid of it 100% as if one root is left that is the size of a finger nail, it can grow back and create more deep stemmed root systems all over again.

Because of this I had a massive decision to make, do I go down the chemical route and buy a very very strong weed killer that is special designed for taking out mares tail. The only concern about doing it that way is the chemical is not selective at all, it kills everything it comes into contact with so if by bad luck I get a gust of wind that takes it off down the plots. I could be killing off someone else’s plants or crops, I don’t really want to be doing that as I haven’t been on my plot that long at this point and I don’t want to be removed from it for killing off other owners crops. Also with this chemical it has to be sprayed on to the plants between the middle of March and the end of September, which means everyone will be planting out there seedlings and I don’t want to potentially kill off there planned crop.

The other route I can go down is clearing the whole plot with garden sheers and a rake, it would be a long process and means that I wouldn’t be tackling the root system at all. So the mares tail will grow back over time but hopefully if I keep cutting it back every time it shows it’s little head, I will be about to kill off the root system over time. 

So I sat down one afternoon and did as much research on both methods of removing the mares tail and I finally came to a decision on what I will do, I decided (with the help of not having that much money) to go down the route of doing it by hand and moving it into one big pile.

I cut it all back in one day, with my garden sheers and raked it all into one big pile in the middle of the plot. I didn’t want to remove it off the plot by putting it into my green bin for the council to remove, as they put all the green waste into a communal type of compost heap and this would just spread the mares tail. So I started a lovely warm fire in my incinerator at the plot and slowly worked my way through the pile burning all the mares tail that was on the plot. This way I know it won’t be spread as I am burning off it all and every mares tail that sprout up this year, I will cut away (hopefully) killing the root system over time. I know I have said this twice now but it is really for me to make a mental note to watch out for shoots this year.

After I cleared all the mares tail on the plot I can see and burning it all, I moved onto removing the well rotten raised beds that were left by the previous plot owner. There was 4 beds in total spread out across the plot, I don’t know what was grown on the plot before and I wish I did to be honest. Knowing what was previously grown means I can plan my crop rotation, as each different type of plant / crop removes different nutrients and you don’t want to remove to much from one place on the plot. Anyways I will get into crop rotation and nutrients more in the my post about my plot planning, that one should be next unless I get side tracked at all.

Because the raised beds where in a very well rooted condition, I placed them inside the greenhouse to keep them out of the elements. This way they can dry over time and eventually burn them down and maybe use the corner brackets for my new raised beds, but I am not 100% sure how I am going to make my new raised beds. 

Now that the plot is clear from all the sky high weeds and rotting raised beds, I covered the half the plot with cardboard and plastic sheeting. My reasoning for doing this is to suppress any weed growth, stop the soil from freezing over winter and also to just make it look like myself that I have achieved a lot.

Having an allotment is a slow process and I am not the kind of person who likes slow process, I prefer to get things done quickly right and be able to use it to it’s fall potential. I will get it all done in time and not having that much money means, I need to think of more creative ways to do stuff on the plot and save money at the same time.



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