Plotopia Progress – Week 1

Today marks the end of my first full week on the new plot (aka Plotopia).  I’ve learnt two things this week. Firstly, that I’ve probably picked the worst time of year to tackle something of this size. Secondly that 330sqm doesn’t look very big until you try to weed it!

As word has spread among other plot holders that I’ve taken on this new area, the response has been very positive.  I was slightly concerned that on a site where the largest plot is just 130sqm, and the fact I’d only joined earlier in the year, that me taking such a chuck of space would be perhaps viewed in a less positive manner. The site itself does seem to have an issue with people taking on plots then leaving them simply covered for a year or more. Or simply never doing anything with them at all.  Conversely, people have seen me there often (I visit most days).

While I didn’t ‘finish’ the plot I originally took on, I did prepare all the ground and had some things growing within weeks.  My original plot, which for now I still have, will therefore be ready for someone to get started on straight away. I’ve agreed to keep on top of the weeds until such time as they have someone for it, in the hope that avoids previous problems.

The weather at the moment hasn’t been working in my favour. It’s raining heavily most nights, and more often than not during the day too. Every ‘dry’ window I have, I’m trying to make sure I’m there.  However, before long I’m going to need to start working in the rain too, if I have any chance of getting things ready.

There’s a lot to do – and if I’m honest, more than I expected.  The plot itself doesn’t look huge from various angles. However, once you start tackling the weeds and digging over the ground, you begin to realise just how big it actually is.  I’ve made decent progress on the weeding, but I still have much to do. Digging over and levelling out the ground, adding bases for greenhouse and shed, re-digging the trench, and installing at least some of the raised beds. All of that is just the minimum I need to have done by January at the latest.

Weeding

A few months ago this entire plot was tilled by a tractor, which has helped – the soil is very workable.  However, as it wasn’t weeded before tilling, there’s quite a lot of weeds in there. Weeds such as couch grass are much more prolific now, thanks to the roots being multiplied by the tilling.  Fortunately, a lot of the shallow-rooted weeds are coming out very easily – there’s just an anful lot of them!  I already have 3 large mounds of weeds (which I’ve removed most soil from), that are at least 2 cubic meters each in size.

The tractor didn’t go edge-to-edge, so the weeds around the edge are particularly deep-rooted. They have proved to take quite an effort to remove.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the plot has a drainage ditch running through the centre, which I plan to make a ‘feature’ of somehow.  I knew that this wasn’t a complete straight line. However, my initial impression was that I’d be able to ‘fix’ that simply by widening it slightly.  However, having taken delivery of some canes and string this week. I figured I’d mark it out to see how much work is there;

Not even remotely straight!

As you can see, the string in this photo marks the centre of the plot. The digger driver that dug this ditch started reasonably well, but it went rapidly downhill from there! Widening this clearly isn’t going to be an option. I’ll have to fill the existing one and dig a whole new one.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with the mass of weeds I’m pulling out. There’s too many for me to simply add to the communal compost area (which is what everyone else does). It’s going to take a while for these to dry out sufficiently for me to burn them. At least without creating so much smoke I’d bring the M62 to a standstill (ideas welcome!).

The current forecast shows a couple of dry days as I write, though that seems to change almost hourly.  With any luck, I’ll make more progress this week though. I have at least got all the ‘tall’ weeds out now!

Lee Bailey
lee@forkmojo.com

Organic Allotmenteer, RHS Student, Husband, Father & Programmer

1 Comment
  • MotherGeek
    Posted at 10:52h, 17 September Reply

    I vote you pile them onto the communal pile. Perhaps they’ll clear it quicker if you do…?

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