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The Allotment Info Sheets

February 4th, 2009 by Karsten

Something new has been added to the website: The Allotment Info Sheets!

Actually, the page from where you’ll be able to get your hands on (hopefully) a lot of these sheets in the future, has been online for a few weeks, but today the first sheet has been uploaded today.

The sheet goes into detail on “How To Dig Over Your Allotment Plot“, information that is already available on the site, but the sheet shows things off a bit differently and is 100% printer friendly.

I hope you’ll all like this new addition to the site, and judging from the amount of visits to the page about the info sheets, there’s definately interest out there. I’ll do my best to get some more sheets produced and uploaded in the coming weeks.

You can download the new info sheet from the link above, or visit the Allotment Info Sheets page from the menu on the left for full instructions.

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I Made It!

May 4th, 2008 by Karsten

Yesterday was a day of great achievement in my allotmenteer career. After 18 months of hard work I finished double-digging my entire plot! This means that every bit of soil on my plot has now been dug over, using my “Cheat version” of double digging.

In reality, even though this technique is not a labour intensive as “real” double digging - make no mistakes - it still takes a considerable amount of effort, along with (quite litterally) tonnes of organic matter! My estimate would be that over the course of these 18 months, I have wheeled in well in excess of 50 tonnes of horse manure onto my plot, and dug it in.

On top of that I have, over the last month or so, wheeled in an additional 2-3 tonnes of manure, and spread it in a 2 inch layer on top of the soil. Yesterday most of it was turned into the soil by rotovator (I still need to run over parts of it another time or two), so my entire plot is now ready for sowing and planting out.

I’m going to do some of that tomorrow (it’s a bank holiday in the UK), while I promised to also run the rotovator over another plot or two, belonging to some elderly plot holders who would have no chance of doing it themselves. Those machines in themselves are worth a few hours in the gym - so if you’re 70+ years old - you really don’t stand much of a chance. I love helping people - so it’s a problem solved!

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A heap of muck!

March 29th, 2007 by Karsten

No one - but the enthusiastic vegetable growers among allotmenteers - can get excited about muck! Yesterday I had a phonecall from the chairman of our allotment association - and he was very excited indeed!

“He has delivered… My boy - has he delivered! It’s good stuff as well - and there’s lots of it!”

I figured he was telling me about the horsemanure I had organised to be delivered to our site had finally arrived. I had to take some old flags away from a landscaping job I’m doing at the moment - which I’ll be able to use on my plot - so I decided to go and have a look for myself! Talking about being excited - huh?

The main thing for me is that it’s going to make things a whole lot easier, since I now can take the manure from the site, rather than go down the riding scool and pick it up.

I’m going to go back to my plot after work these next few weeks - just to spend an hour digging some more stuff in - and I’m well on track to have my whole plot dug over by the end of april! Yeah!

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How to dig a plot

March 14th, 2007 by Karsten

The process of digging over your plot is the start of the gardeners year - the time to prepare your plot for the coming seasons growing - and usually takes place from late autumn to early spring.

When you dig your plot you start out by marking up the site to be dug over, dig a trench about 1½ foot wide at the front of the plot, and transport the soil you dig out to the bottom of the plot. Then you continue to dig the trench towards the bottom of your plot - only now you turn the soil you dig out over into the previously dug out trench.

Digging Techniques.

The most commonly used digging technique is called single digging. Using this method you dig your trench one spade (or spit) deep.

The single digging method is sufficient in most cases - but you will find that some keen vegetable growers use the double digging method once every 3 years or so - in order to break up the compacted layer below the depth of digging. This is, however, extremely hard work - because the subsoil (as it is called) is very compact, particularly on plots where the process hasn’t been carried out previously.

There is a third digging method - called b*stard-digging by people in the gardening profession. The exact benefit of using this method (going deeper than 2 spits) is not quite clear to me - but I suppose it’s for people wanting to grow large sized root-produce (carrots, parsnips, leeks etc.) for competition purposes.

How to “cheat”

There’s two alternatives to the above mentioned methods - one of which I am using on my plot - as I’ll show you below. The first of these methods is, of cause, rotavating. This method is particularly useful for plots that has already been dug over in previous years - and it can be used even when you want to add organic matter to the soil. It’s not the ideal thing to do if your plot is plagued by couch grass, or similar weeds, that spread via bits of roots.

The other alternative I’ve chosen to call single-double digging. This is the method I’m using on my plot - and it works as follows:

1. Dig your trench 1 spit deep, and ensure that no bits of soil is left on the bottom.

2. Fill the trench to the top with organic matter (in my case horsemanure).

3. Dig your trench back, turning the soil over onto the manure, and dig any bits of soil off the bottom onto the manure as well.

4. Start back at step 1.

What this does in effect resembles the method of double digging - though I’m only doing single digging - because I’m adding a lot of organic matter to the bottom of the trench. With the help of my underground friends - this will be turned into a nice layer of soil in a years time.

While not as labour intensive as doing double digging - it’s quite time-consuming - and requires access to a LOT of organic matter.

Happy digging!

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To dig or not to dig?

March 13th, 2007 by Karsten

The question of whether or not to dig over an allotment plot is a source of great debate among allotmenteers - almost always dividing young from old - where the older plotholders are die-hard diggers who digs (or rotavates) without fail every winter/spring.

The younger plotholders in many cases opt for the no-dig system of raised beds, that will only need a good forking over to break up any clods and capping, because they avoid walking on the soil. This ensures that the structure of the soil isn’t ruined, and that it isn’t compacted.

I’m not that old (35) - yet I’ve opted for digging over my plot - and for a number of reasons:

  • My plot was severely overgrown last year - suggesting that nothing has been done to it for a long time - so I need to improve the structure of the soil.
  • To help in improving the soil - I need to encourage micro organisms and worms to come back - which is done by feeding them loads of organic matter.
  • The addition of organic matter also adds much needed nutrients to the soil.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about digging techniques, and tell you how I’ve chosen to dig my plot this year.

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