FLAG St Albans
Folly Lane Allotment Group
Tips from the Jeanerie - getting started with your new plot

A new plot may be very daunting so here are some ideas on how to tackle a virgin plot ….

1.              Remove any rubbish and place by the skip area near the lower gate. Blackberry canes and other compostable items should be thrown to the back of the green waste heap.

2.              Hire/use a heavy duty strimmer and cut the grass and weeds very short.

3.              Start digging and removing weeds a small patch at a time. Keep that area clear and productive and it will grow in size, slowly but surely.

4.              Cover the rest with a) black plastic, b) flattened, heavy duty cardboard, or c} old carpets. (Carpet - if you opt for this you MUST remove it within a season - they can create problems after that. Decide, too, whether to avoid carpets with artificial under-lay or too much manmade fibre; they work as well but can leave residues in the soil. )

5.              Watch out for - and seize! - pallets and large, builders' sand bags. They make excellent compost containers. The bags will fit inside the wooden structure. Cut a large hole in the base so that worms can get in.

6.              Beware of allowing grass paths between planting areas; when even a little overgrown they make easy cover for slug raiding parties! Couch grass will also creep back in. Use the woodchips or leaves (over a membrane if you prefer) available by the lower gate while they are new. (Rotted ones make excellent early spring mulch under fruit trees!)

7.              Optional alternative = a heavy duty rotovator. Effective - but you must get stuck in and dig out the perennial weeds before they re-establish!

8.              Raised beds are not trouble free. It is essential the area is COMPLETELY free of perennial weeds - especially couch grass - or your task will be harder.

9.              Further reading - The series of "Expert" books by Dr D. G. Hessayon are about the clearest instructions you'll find; the magazine Kitchen Garden is published monthly and surpasses all others on the subject.