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     Allotment Preparation                                                             <<Back to Vegetable Ward

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Many people hear of strange things being done to grow the vegetables we buy off our supermarket shelves, such as having to peel carrots thickly to avoid the hormones that are sprayed on them, to make them grow faster or lettuces that are sprayed four times a week to combat diseases and to make them grow faster. The list is endless. Then there is the new GM vegetables such as tomato plants with a gene from the Atlantic salmon to help them to survive at lower temperatures, and vegetables grown to be immune to weed killers.

So its no wonder that people turn to growing their own vegetables, and those without gardens can ask the local council for allotments, with visions of row upon row of succulent vegetables they arrive at the allotment site, to look over their plot, only to be dismayed at an overgrown area of land with every type of weed known to man, and a few more besides growing on it. A few start to try their hand at clearing it up, one or two make a go of it but most give up.

Now the plot is clear, divide the plot into 3; so you have A. B. C. this is so you can practice crop rotation, as you should not grow the same vegetable in the same plot year after year.

As an example if we were to grow Brassicas in plot A we would need to lime unless the soil was alkaline, then rake in a general purpose fertiliser two weeks before planting or sowing.

In plot B if we were growing Beans, Pea, leek, lettuce, onion, spinach, sweet corn, we need to add liberal amounts of well rotted manure or compost at digging time, rake in a general purpose fertiliser two weeks prior to sowing or planting. In plot C we use for roots, beetroot, carrots, parsnips and potatoes, do not add lime, manure or compost, rake in a general purpose fertiliser two weeks before sowing or planting.

When one starts to clear a plot ready to cultivate it, the first thing is to decide how this is to be done. First cut back all weeds to ground level with a sickle or better still if you can borrow or hire a strimmer, this makes the job easier and quicker.

Then you have to decide which is the best way to turn the plot over, by digging it by hand or by machine, machine is quickest but digging by hand allows you to remove perennial weeds, as only a small piece left in the round, can soon start to grow again, but with a large plot this can take quite a long time, but in my opinion its the best way.

With machinery, first one must weed kill the plot with a translocated weed killer, after spraying, the plot is left alone for 10-14 days to give the weed killer time to work, then you go over the plot with a rotavator which can be hired from a tool hire firm, they are quiet reasonable to hire for a day. After rotavating over the plot, rake any perennial roots off the top of the soil and remove them and burn them.


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