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12/09/2013 at 20:51

We have a small field behind our garden which is really overgrown with weeds , mainly nettle. I want to clear an area to start as a veg plot. I'm thinking to grow potatoes in the spring. Problem is I don't really know how to start to clear. Should I cut down weeds in the area and use weed killer? All advice gratefully received please.

12/09/2013 at 21:02

Use glyphosate  NOW, or as soon as we get a calm dry day. When the weeds have died down, fork out any remaining roots. Get as much well rotted farm yard manure as you can, and apply in spring. Plant potatoes around Easter

12/09/2013 at 21:07

Not sure how large your field is but the important thing is not to bite off more than you can chew. You can always increase your plot later. Glysophate is the best known systemmic weedkiller and widely available in garden centres. Or you could cover with old carpet and leave for about 6 months (est.) Your local carpet shop may be able to help locate some. Potatoes are always a good crop for year 1 as they are said to help you clean the plot. 

Nettles have large and tough root systems, which the glysophate will attack. Don't try digging unless you are sure you are not leaving bits of root behind to grow next year. It is a bit brittle and breaks easily. Problem.

Anyway, have a go, keep at it and you will succeed.....

12/09/2013 at 21:20

Thank you both for help. WW,-field is too big to tackle all really , but thought I would try as you say a smallish area first. I was also wondering if when I've cleared an area wether to try planting a green manure for a few months or do you think farm yard manure would be better?

12/09/2013 at 22:33

By the time you have cleared it, it will be too late for green manures to germinate for this year. I would use farm yard manure.

12/09/2013 at 23:25

One problem you may encounter is wireworm in spuds, common when planted after grass.  It may benefit being turned over so the birds can clear them away.

13/09/2013 at 08:00

Thank you all. Hoping for a decent weekend to get started then. Best stock up on the Weetabix!

13/09/2013 at 09:09

Hi, they say spuds are a good way to clear a patch, it always makes me laugh. They clear the patch because of all the digging involved with growing potatoes!

We find that spreading an even layer of manure on top of the ground ,and only rotavting / digging it in in the spring helps . It looks good and the manure breaks down a bit more and is easier to work in, the resulting soil is like walking on springs!

My allotment is totaly overgrown this year with weed that has spread from next door allotment. I cut it back with strimmer in July, but it has taken over again and is going to seed. I don't think Glysophate works on weed seed? For past 10 years I have been chemical free, is there another way to control these weeds? Also we have had to fence areas of allotment as the rabbits and deer are eating everything. This year has been very demoralising.

13/09/2013 at 09:19

Jgill's problem is that the main weeds are nettles so something fairly drastic and or physical will be needed to get rid of them before anything else can be done.Unfortunately nettles will relish growing through the lovely manure you put on top of them.... it will not smother them. Rotovating could chop them up into a squillion pieces to grow on.Does anyone have any first hand experience of ridding the ground of nettles?

P.S. I would leave some nettles for the butterflies to lay their eggs upon.

13/09/2013 at 10:32

On the subject of Glyphosate, I was advised to buy the 'commercial' product which has a strength of 360g per litre. This is more economic to use than garden centre versions at just 7.2g per litre strength. knapsack dilution rate is 25ml per 1litre of water, 5l pack treats 10,000 m2 (or 2.5 acres) but costs about £39.00 - I did find a site selling 1 litre packs at about £13.00. OK it is highly concentrated so you have to be competent to use it and you need to do the research.
 has anyone any advice about this before I go ahead and buy some?  I will not use it anywhere near my kitchen garden but elsewhere the paths and drive are a problem which this could solve more economically.

13/09/2013 at 11:17
Hi jigsaw jill Iv just been given an allotment cd,called The Allotment ??5:99 ish its exactly what you need to explain just how to start your allotment off ,were just leaving ours for a new house and allotment, this time we will follow the no dig way all explained in the video (recommended)i personally would cut the nettles and make Nettle tea the dry not smelly way its all on the net and cd, mark off beds cover with cardboard, 8 inches manure,black plastic to keep the light out weighted down and leave , first time allotments from fields as said by Netherfield can suffer from Wire worm,if you start rotovating your unleashing all the wild seed thats been there for donkies years, and destroying the natural life that needs to be there in the first 8/12 inches of the soil,even the farmers dont want to dig unless they have to as the harvest prog shown last night,the paths in between the beds can then be cut or covered all this rotavating and digging just destroys and is hard work good luck Alan
13/09/2013 at 13:45

Thanks everyone. It's all very interesting and  a bit confusing. Alan, I like the idea of no weed killer and definately no digging, but how long would I need to keep covered and would it be ready to plant potatoes in spring?

13/09/2013 at 13:51

If you put FYM down  after cutting down and raking off the nettles, then covered in black plastic, you could plant potatoes  in holes (or crosses) cut in the black plastic for the first year. Try looking up " No dig gardening". The black plastic will suppress any weed seeds, and the potatoes will happily grow through planting holes.

13/09/2013 at 15:24

Sorry to pour cold water...but the black plastic method, whilst growing good spuds will also encourage slugs and snails who will feast on them. You may still want to use this method as it will hopefully sort out your nettles, but don't expect perfect potatoes too.

13/09/2013 at 18:37

Oh heck - the plot thickens! perhaps a good job the weather forecast not too good to give me time to debate how to tackle this. Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.

03/11/2013 at 17:20

Well I think I've made good headway with veg plot. I cleared an area of nettles mainly by pulling out and digging after spraying with glyphosphate a few weeks before. I've made 4 beds approx 2m x1 m. I laid layers of cardboard and covered with layers of home made compost &leaf mould  to a depth of about 5-6inches. Haven't got farmyard manure as not been able to locate any yet and I keep hearing comments of possible unwanted chemicals in it. Do you think I need it? Wondered about just adding chicken pellets. The beds are not enclosed as the field actually belongs to our next door neighbour who kindly lets us use it, so I didn't want to do anything permanent. I have just trodden down a soil pathway between the beds. Am wondering if this sounds ok so far or if anything else should be done. Hard work - who needs a gym?

03/11/2013 at 18:41

Great progress, very impressed. Pellets will do nicely. Also as you have fallow land you should find it is pretty fertile for at least a year. So you need not worry about FYM for now. Can you start a compost heap for the longer term?

Also have you decided what to plant and when. Pop into your local GC and see if they have any veg. plantlets for you to get going with. Also there is a winter version of broad bean , Aquadulce, which you could start.

03/11/2013 at 19:02

Already have couple of darlek compost bins and several large builders bags of leaf mould in the making also in field. There is still a large area of nettles and also lots of comfrey so I make tea with those.  I have broad beans growing in a bed in the garden already- I have planted The Sutton for the first time. My plans for the new beds are potatoes, prob Charlotte and International Kidney in one bed. I,ve got some Pixie spring cabbage growing in pots also. In the third bed I plan to grow Cobra french beans as they grew well just in my flower borders this year. I thought I may grow greyhound cabbage in the spring . Also somewhere I want to have courgettes and butternut squash. My raised bed in the garden will then be used for salad stuff. I'll see how I get on with that and may clear some more room for other things later,depending how I get on with this.

04/11/2013 at 20:22

Have you considered planting a few fruit bushes. Currant and gooseberry require very little care and can be planted now for next year.

04/11/2013 at 22:11

Yes I like the idea of fruit bushes. I once tasted red gooseberries and would quite like to try those and also wondered about autumn raspberries as I read that these are easier than summer ones.

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