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…
Wow! That’s some effort. …and I was dreading digging the weeds out the border this weekend 🤣 piece of cake compared to what you’ve just dug up!
Thanks Lee but praise should go to the under gardener
Crikey! but I guess that’s what trying to dig through concrete does.
My approach when I’ve taken on ‘virgin’ ground (as my whole allotment was when I took it over) is to cover the whole lot with cardboard (broken down delivery boxes are perfect) and then pile muck over the top, and plant into that. Within a year the weeds under the card have died off, and there’s no real digging involved at all. Remarkably successful, but not instant.
is the virus affecting tools? I recently broke a tine off a four tined digging fork! never believed I was that powerful> 😀
The garden full of flowers looks like an oasis – is it real? It is so beautiful and well done for creating such a beautiful plot. We all need an ‘under gardener’. Sophie
Thanks for your lovely comments. Yes, it is real and I’m very lucky it’s my oasis.
Sophie, I’ve just re-read your comment and realise you refer to the flower farm photo – yes it is real but not mine (yet) I still maintain my allotment is an oasis though;)