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Hi, I myself was a new allotment gardener last year, and I would agree with all the advice given, but I would advise against a rotavator. I found when I used one on one bed weeds like dock and buttercup have been coming up everywhere! As you know these are much more difficult to dig up and eradicate, and it appears that the rotavating cut them up into tiny pieces that all sprouted.

My advice would be to just dig it over and cover until next spring, if you break the beds into reachable widths, say 2-3foot across weeding will be easier! Good luck with it all, it has changed my life!

I took on a allotment nov 06 my advice in a bad state cut it down then dig small bits at a time I have had some good crop pots cabbage sweetcorn beans and peas I still have a lot to clear which I will do over winter
I was thrilled to take on an allotment at the end of June this year...only to find it was covered in brambles, nettles and couch grass. My husband strimmed the top off and we carefully cut back the brambles (after a bumper crop!). Over the summer we've dug small sections at a time, taking out all the weed roots as we go. After a strip was dug over we immediately planted something in it - lettuces, potatoes, leeks, cabbages, etc. It's a long and arduous task, but the benefits certainly paid off when you can harvest your crops. We've still only dug over half of the allotment, but have all winter to tackle the rest - what a challenge!
I agree about not using a rotavator, we just spent hours hand digging which was hard work but we are now so glad that we did. Our plot was totally overgrown last year and now not even a year later we are well on the way to a productive plot, have a look at our blog...
I agree with all of the above but only cultivate a small block at a time. If you can get hold of some thick old carpet that would help but turn it over from time to time to stop the weeds planting themselves in the carpet and potatoes is a great crop to break up the ground


Thank you. If the weather holds, I will get started tomorrow. The 7-day forecast here on the website looks good.
I would agree with the above, I also took on a similar sounding plot late last year. I begged old carpet from people and covered over a large amount of it. This year I had dug over enough for a good crop of potatoes and I am now lifting the carpets and finding that roots from the 'nasty' weeds have been fooled into spreading themselves across the surface making them easy to remove! I gather you should try and use natural fibre carpet and certainly not rubber backed ones as they don't rot down well. Have fun.
I am a new allotment holder,its was a very neglected patch. i am slowly winning the battle. my main problem is a large neglected plum tree that was full of very small but very sweet fruit, i dont really want to cut down the tree but i would like some advice about pruning it back, i know it should not be touched in winter but i would like to cut it back to a managble size without killing the tree.
I started clearing my allotment April 2007. It was covered in dock and couch grass. I have been digging it over bit by bit covering the rest with old carpet and black plastic sheeting. Have grown courgettes,sweetcorn,carrots, runner beans and sweet peas. Thrilled with my first years produce.
hi i have also been lured by the allotmemt bug having been given produce from my bosses garden! we have the same problem as lauren and its a very big site the land has been offered to us by a local land owner who had been refused planning permission to build on it. it looks great and we dont minbds the work but he said its brownfield site and i believe that it means it may have had something on it that is classed as toxic, am i right?
Good advice from pamela f and jennyc. You may want to use a weed killer to help you on your way there are lots on the market ask advice from your local garden centre and read the instructions carefully. Gardening is hard work but the benifits are very rewarding. Good luck!
Clearing an overgrown plot is never any fun, but when it's done, you'll feel a real sense of accomplishment - even before you plant anything. You plan sounds fine, but the only thing I would say is to be careful about the rotavator. If you plot is full of horrible weeds (bindweed, couch grass, comfrey), then a rotavator will just chop them all up into little pieces - each of which will grow into another plant next season. I know its hard work, but sometimes digging the soil by hand and pulling out the weeds at their roots will make your life easier in the long run. Also, I would advise you not to put those perennial weeds on your compost bin. Get rid of them some other way (we burn ours). Good luck
Surplus lettuce (and other salad) leaves? They make excellent "spinach". Steamed in butter, a little salt and sugar. Add peas (optional).
I have spent 3 days clearing a wilderness, e.g. blackberry runners roots etc. The plot is about 12 foot X 6 foot. I want to have an "All round" pleasant feeling/display. What can I do?
Rotovators are a bit tricky, they tend to run away with you. A good dig over and cover with black plastic should do the trick. When you are preparing to plant remove the plastic and remove any roots, then dig lightly and rake over. You should be ready to go then. Enjoy!


I had an allotment when I lived in England, and found that trying to get rid of the weeds to start off with was a horrendous task. The first year I got no crops at all, because they all became swamped with the weeds that sprang up after I thought it was cleared. Although it is preferable to garden organically, on an allotment this is difficult because you are surrounded by other plots that may not be organic. I would recommend using a weedkiller such as Roundup to get started. This kills the weeds where it comes into contact with the leaves, but becomes inert in the soil. This will clean your plot initially, then you can go into the digging, rotovating etc. You will probably only need to do this once, and then you will be able to get it under control.
I'm still waiting for my allotment! Having learnt that if six people request allotments from the local council, they are required by law to provide them, I put notices up in the town and so far we've got about 40 people wanting them! It's been nearly a year now, so hopefully we won't have to wait too much longer once the council can negotiate land for the purpose. As far as cultivation is concerned, I would certainly not recommend a rotavator! Hand digging and weeding is time consuming but pays off in the end! On a veg plot I used to cultivate I would cover the plot with well rotted manure in the autumn following harvest and cover that with black plastic over winter. In the spring, when I removed it, the worms had done the work for me, the muck had disappeared and any bind-weed roots were all on top of the soil - easy to remove and burn once dried. To top it all, the soil was warm, ready for spring sowing.
arlene p Hi well done with the allotment, it sounds as if you may hit the jack pot, as a brownfield site is land that has been previously built on so it is possible that you may be digging someone's garden. all the best.
Lots of good advice! I took on an allotment last year, and the plan that worked best was to clear a bit and plant it before going on to the rest. I used covering to reduce weeds. It took me 15 months to clear my plot (144 sq. metres) and I enjoyed (almost!)every minute. This autumn I planted a flower bed at one end to attract pollinating insects, as well as to look beautiful, and included comfrey for the compost heap. Go for it and enjoy! I'm nearly 70, still work part-time, and love my allotment.
ive had my plot for 2 years and here is a warning to all allotment holders no matter how busy you are never ever be too busy to lock the gates. heres what just happened to me, saturday we had a wedding to go to and time was short but in the morning i had a call from friends at the local church to see if i could donate veg for the harvest festival. happyily i said yes so off we went to the plot to dig up lots of things filling a large box(rushing as we needed to get to the wedding)and then going to church to deliver it, by now feeling very proud that we could help by giving away lovely veg to help others. anyway our good deed done was done and of we went and had a lovely time at the wedding returning home very late shattered.

sunday morning we were woken by a knock at the door,it was a chap from the allotment asking if we had locked the gates yesterday as we had suffered a break in,!!!! yes youve guessed it, we were rushing so much we didnt lock up ,i was devastated. someone had removed the roofs of the sheds and taken the contents. convinced i was about to lose my plot my husband went up and thank goodness the others told me not to worry because it was just one of those things and not our fault.

i still feel so guilty that because of us we were robbed so please please no matter how busy you are always lock the gates.a good deed has now cost me the trust of my fellow gardeners and there cost of replacing items stolen.tomorrow i will have to face them say sorry and im so so worried. but at least the church were over joyed with our donation even though they are also upset when i told them whats happened.