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So you have an Allotment

 
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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:54 pm    Post subject: So you have an Allotment  Reply with quote

This is an article i wrote a few years ago for my friends on
http://www.allotment.org.uk
This is still my favourite site on the net ( AFTER THIS SITE ) for all things gardening and poultry related i wrote it in my usual style  and they kindly made it readable to the populace i am reproducing it here in full with johns  edits as i have lost the original copy. hope you enjoy it .
and thanks to john for making it readable without translators.

You Have an Allotment!
Starting out on an allotment will be both exciting and yet very frightening. You will have been to visit the site and seen all the immaculate ( I hope ) plots with cloth capped old fellas leaning on a spade nattering the day away. Sweet pea flowers growing among runner beans, massive chrysanthemums swaying in the breeze, row upon row of perfect summer cabbages . What a perfect picture its painted .

Wake up you're dreaming!

Your plot's this one with old bikes and mattresses where half the plots waste wood and metal were dumped by the nearby plot renters, where they have burned their rubbish. Massive weeds and brambles hide a shed somewhere in the back, oh and not forgetting the smashed up greenhouse base where someone took all the aluminium frame for scrap and now some miserable old git is looking you over as if you are next in line for the local prison cells.

Welcome to the allotments "here's your key" says the secretary, "oh and your first year's rent is £75. Can you pay by the end of this month? We won't worry about the last week of this month as you're new and you may need a little time to get it cleaned up". Off he or she goes never to be seen again .

So now you're left standing there with a look of bewilderment on your mush. A thought flashes across your mind, "What the **** have I gotten myself into here?"
Home beckons with a cup of tea and your purse or wallet feels lighter now. It should do £75 for a tip is a lot of money to pay out .

Large glass of alcohol in hand, it is time to sit and think what you have taken on. How are you going to go forward? Those thoughts of home grown proper tasting vegetables is a long way off now. More to the point, what the heck are you going tell your other half about what you have spent the money on?

“Morning, I'm going down the allotments” a shout goes out to who ever hears it. Spade, fork, shovel, bin liners, gloves, secateurs, loppers, bow saw and wheel barrow goes into the car. Good job you've got a big one or you'd be buggered. Here you are, surveying your domain, standing in front of the new setting for your dream with the
tools all out the car. Now what? Where and how do you start?

OK, slow down matey . Have you though what you are doing here? No? Well let me try and guide you how I would tackle this small problem. "Small, SMALL?" Are you taking the urine, pal?
No, it is only one small problem in the way of how you intend to carry out your plans but by asking for advice and listening your progress will be not so much quicker but definitely smoother

So lets start with how do you want to garden. With fertilisers the non organic way or no fertilisers the organic way? What you want to go non organic this year but organic next? OK good idea saves a good bit of time in the long run. Now let's start work. Get the tools going we need to start clearing rubbish to make the going easier.

So off to the skip with the old mattresses . The old metal and wood can go too. What the heck are you going to do with the old fire site? No worries, let's get busy on the rubbish .

A couple of hours later and we have cleared what you can see. The weeds have taken a stomping from your feet and now let's get to it and start cutting down these large weeds, the tall brambles and such . Pile them high and take them to the skip? No we can make use of the fire site. Pile them up on there. Anything that is green woody etc. can burn. The fire site is already there so use it.

Now it's hard work with just secateurs and loppers. Especially when you did not bring your rake from home! So listen to what you're thinking. "I could use a strimmer here. No electric on the allotment site so it will have to be petrol. I wonder if I can hire one?"

Yes you can, look in the phone book! Costs about £25 a day plus a couple of gallons of petrol and ask for help in knowing how to use it from the guy renting it to you. Not much point in getting it if you don't know how to start it and keep it running . Erm thought crosses mind again "Hubby / older son can play with this toy ? No? Oh you used one before?"

OY stop standing there thinking and get on with the damn strimming then. The brush cutter blade is the thing to sort this lot out . How high to cut the stuff? AS LOW AS POSSIBLE. What do i do with all the rubbish? YOU BURN IT ON THE FIRE SITE Do I have to tell ya everything??

Yippee! You're at the end of the plot and its a clear view back to the car. The shed, if you can call it that, is now in view and also the greenhouse base is not as bad as you thought. Those paver's can be used again and the trowels and other stuff left in the shed. That shed has loads of unmarked bottles and jars that contain all sorts of strange looking concoctions. Skip them, this shed is a liability. To the FIRE SITE. Pile the shed on first, then all the weeds and rubbish and get a good blaze going.

Damn! it's rained for a week now. Those blasted weeds will come up higher than ever . "Must have a word with Munty for some weed killer, he has some that will kill trees standing. Round-up he calls it. Some kind of glyphosate stuff for farms." So Munty comes and gives you a helping hand with the weed killer besides that little sprayer is no good for large lumps of ground, the back pack one he has will sort it in no time .

Stay off it now for a couple days and don't touch the weeds for 7 to 21 days when they will have gone to straw and they're dead and I mean dead. If you get any parts I missed you go over them with your little sprayer and whack them again, then just let it be. If you like I will come and rotovate it when you calls me Pay the petrol only 'cos I like you. Munty thinks, "…and I get to play with my new toy"

Ok bet you thought that blessed Round-up was never going to work. That Munty, he said 21 days maximum not a ruddy month. Still it rained for half of that. He did say the sun was really needed to make it work quicker. Called him in yet to come and rotovate the ground for you?

And what the heck have you been doing while the Round-up got to work? Oh, I see ya put a nice shiny new shed on the plot, wow and new manure bins full of cheap dung. A cold frame and a new greenhouse on the site of the old one. Bet your hubby hasn't seen the bank statements! OK, Munty's here with a machine . Bloody hell what a monster! "Nice innit?" says Munty "this will chew the ground up lovely"

So off he goes chomping through soil that was full of weeds just a few weeks ago. Dang its looking better already. 1 hour later after going over it a couple times the soils a rich dark brown colour.

Now you bang loads manure on it, except where you want to put your carrots and such and I will chop it all in for you no charge. I will be back in a couple hours to collect the machine and will do it then. Winking as he goes tootling off .

True to his word Munty's back. You shoved manure over three quarters of the plot and within minutes the machine is chopping it up and burying the majority of it. Another hour and he's gone leaving you to look at the soil that now looks like it could produce more than a few docks and nettles.

So what now? Excitement comes to fever pitch as you stat to rake the whole area level putting your toe point on any manure clods and burying them. Now it's level the whole plot looks magnificent. The new house and shed, compost bins all look as if the skies opened and the gods dropped them into a space like some kind of art . Lots of hard work cut down to a month or so.

Now what would it be if you didn't have the Round-up and the machine to dig it?

A yard a trip, digging all the weeds out and then waiting for the rain to end week after week. Maybe you would have stopped digging to put a shed and greenhouse up .along with the bins of course. 4 months maybe? OK, so you want to be organic. You still can starting now. For goodness sake, what ever the previous owners use on the soil is going to take a couple years or more to leach out so let it happen over the time you're growing things your way.

Home for a cuppa and then work out where you are going to plant what. After a week of rain you're back to the plot . Oh No! what's all them weeds? Oh bugger it's mares tail. The Round-up got all the rest of the weeds but not them So what the heck are you gonna do now? "That there stuff will grow through concrete!" a voice pipes up. It's your evil looking neighbour. Yes, I think its mares tail isn't it? He replies, "Sure is, grow through blinking concrete that stuff ya know. Only way to get rid is hoe every scrap as pokes through soil, nowt other will kill it"

Thanks for the advice. "advice is free, only good if it's right advice" he says. "Your ground turned up right then?"

"Yes, it's wonderful." you say "I am looking for any good advice on gardening I can get as I am a beginner". "Aye", he says, "so we all was one time. Anything you want to know just ask. Always here for advice good or bad “

Not so evil after all, you think. Oh, and welcome! You have made it. You're an allotment holder. And now the hard work begins

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