My plot neighbour offered me the spare bit of his allotment, reasoning it would save him having to keep mowing the grass/bindweed/bramble.
I accepted because, well why not? I still harbour fanciful ideas of a flower farm and I’ve long outgrown the designated cutting patch(es).
The original plan was to get the preparation completed over the winter but then it rained, rained and rained a bit more but I’m on course now to have the ground ready for the dahlias to be planted out towards the end of this month.
I have a tried and tested methodology for preparing overgrown and unworked land. No-diggers should look away now or perhaps not – I suspect the no-dig gods had a hand in this.
My trusty Spear and Jackson, 10 year guarantee spade is 13 years old but hasn’t seen much actual digging action since 2016/7. It’s perfect in all respects; weight, height and angle and has a very nice edge to it. Having applied glysophate to knock out the top layer of weed horrors, fully aware that couch and bindweed roots lurched below I started digging in one corner. The spade was already battle-scarred from the big dig turning plot 48 from bramble patch to allotment, with a small rip on the shoulder.
However as I progressed from the corner along the shortest edge of the patch, the rip became bigger and longer but still I dug, pulling out bucketfuls of evil roots. Eventually, digging operations came to a halt when the spade looked like this.
How could this happen? It looks to be moulded from one piece of metal. Anyhow, definitely beyond repair and you know how difficult it is to purchase anything during lockdown.
Another plotter gave me a spare spade and it would be ungracious to complain, but it took some getting used to.
I consoled myself with a little internet shopping for a new spade – absolutely essential! and horrors, my spade was no longer available (sob) so I went with this version, it has the same ergonomic handle and it’s become my new favourite – the sharp, pointy blade cuts easily through the roots. Thanks to the people still working in the warehouse and delivery drivers, meaning I could still buy a new spade.
The under-gardener took over the digging on his days off, deciding it was easier to sieve the roots out – it worked for him, so why not.
Just one length to go – note the modified sieving barrow…