Many people would have recently been allocated new plots or in the process of taking one over in the run up to spring..
As per normal, they probably are full of weeds, rubbish, broken glass, old pallets, timbers, plastic containers with holes in and most of all huge forest of brambles, nettles and possibly mares tail. And possibly a few raspberry bushes as well – great.
Firstly you need to plan what you are going to grow. Veg, some flowers, strawberries and soft fruit, some fruit trees etc. etc. Remember you must grow what YOU want to eat and not what others want you to grow. Take into account the space you have and the space required for all your various crops. Make some sketches of the basic shape and play with it. You will have fun. Try to keep similar varieties of plants together to aid in your Rotations.
You then need to clear all the rubbish and tip it at you local tip and then get stuck into the clearing of the weeds and brambles etc. Assuming the ground is workable you then need to do some digging to prepare it for planting in the spring… if we have one!!
Sounds a lot of work but it’s not. Well it is but it’s easy if you plan it and do it over a period of time. It cant be done in a day or week or even a month.. Do a bit each time you go down to the plot and it soon gets finished. Remember to have fun and that its not a chore..
I read somewhere that every time you go to the plot try to do 4 different jobs – this way you will get a lot more done.
So how do we do what and when? Lets assume the ground is workable…
All the big weeds and wood can be burned (if allowed on the site) and the ash can be used as Potash on fruiting plants in the summer.
Start a compost heap using four pallets tied together (free from most builders sites and skips) or a Dalek type bin as you will be able to compost any greens you have – but not nettle seed heads, mares tail and bad weeds such as doc, couch grass and bind weed. The roots will probably just keep on growing!!
What I suggest is that you start by Double Digging over the whole plot, incorporating manure at the same time – but not where carrots and parsnips are going. Any clods can be left as the winter will break them down. Digging it deep the first time is the best way to get started and you know it’s all been worth it when you start to eat your own veg. (If the plot is in good condition already I would just single dig). The following seasons it can simply be forked over or single dug with ease. Whilst digging keep all the bad roots aside, dry them and then burn for potash. Mares tail is a blighter and just keep on top of it. At the most It looks more of an eye-sore than anything as the roots are so deep it doesn’t really harm the crops.
Don’t rotavate if you have bad perennial weeds like mares tail, doc, couch grass, bind weed dandelion etc. It will cut the roots up into small pieces and then you will have millions of new bad weeds!! After a few years, once they are at bay then yes you can rotavate..
Get your shed and greenhouse sorted if you are to have one and a water butt or large plastic drum to collect water from the shed roof. It’s great to have rain water on tap for your plants especially in the GH..
Pathways can be sorted out during winter months so don’t go overboard on these just yet… (unless the ground is unworkable).
Then in Spring you are ready to add fertilizer and fork it in a couple of weeks before you plant out.
See my web blog site here and you will see all the above in action..
A few pics of getting my plot started off..