Real Men Sow

A Patch from Scratch: Making a Solid Start and a Rough Plan for Clearing the Weeds

I made a start on the Patch from Scratch this weekend. I did some clearing and digging. In fact, I did more than I thought I would. I’m not looking forward to tomorrow morning. I’m getting to that age when I start to ache after a day’s graft.

Anyway, I thought I’d blog about my progress, and the rough plan for sorting the scruffy, weedy area into a nice veg patch.

Little and Often
There are a lot of weeds to clear out, so little and often is my plan. I did consider going into detail about all the different types of weeds I encountered, and what they do, but figured there’s no point. They’re all big, they’re all bad, and they all need getting out.

When a patch or allotment is overgrown, this can be a painstaking process, hence the little and often motto. I’ve seen people at the allotment rotovate, which is quick and dirty, but unfortunately doesn’t clear the weeds out. It only chops the roots up, so within a few weeks, the area is overrun again.

Loosening the Soil
My plan is to tackle small sections one at a time, pulling out as much of the big stuff as possible, and then tackling the little bits. My favoured technique for clearing is digging down a spade deep to loosen the soil, and then pulling up weeds. Some of the roots were huge though, and took a proper dig and yank combo to get out.

I rewarded myself in between each section by having a rest in the sun (normally involving tea or chocolate) and then having another crack at the weeds.

Covering Up – Keep Those Weeds Down
Once each little section is free of weeds I’m covering the area with tarpaulin or carpet to keep the weeds down until Autumn. I’ve found a good source of old carpet in a skip outside a local carpet shop.

In Autumn, I’ll pull up the carpet and tarpaulin, put a large dollop of manure on the soil and recover until the new year. Once the manure is rotted down, I’ll dig over again ready for sowing.

I actually made pretty good progress with this frequent tea and chocolate break approach, and dug over about a third of the plot during the course of the weekend.

I’ve got a few more weeks of light in the evening, and a bank holiday weekend on the horizon, so hopefully I’ll get the whole area rough dug soon. That’s my broad, simplistic plan for creating a good growing base.

A Good Weekend’s Work
It’s been a fulfilling couple of days, with great weather and no interruptions. Every so often you get one of those weekends when the gardening Gods are smiling on you. This weekend was one of them. That massive great tree stump I mentioned at the beginning?

Completely rotten. Came up with one sharp tug of a crowbar. No muscles required. :)

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  1. JimllAugust 12, 2012 at 7:52 pmReply

    Good stuff! I always find ground clearance a fun, if exhausting, task. The prospect of a beautiful garden spring out of the weeds and brambles is always an exciting time.

    Good luck with the plot.

  2. Jono

    JonoAugust 12, 2012 at 7:53 pmReplyAuthor

    Cheers Jim – its strangely satisfying. I’m in bits now though. Time for a Radox bath!

  3. MariaAugust 12, 2012 at 9:34 pmReply

    Amazing tap root on that! on that…. what weed is that Jono?

    Well done, sounds like you have made a great start.

  4. Jono

    JonoAugust 13, 2012 at 8:41 amReplyAuthor

    I’m not actually sure. Its big on top and flowers. Unfortunately the whole garden is full of them, and they grow back quickly if you only manage to chop the root rather than get it all out.

    There is lots of bindweed too, which is a real bummer, but I found that quite a satisfying one to pull up. I quite enjoyed working on that one!

  5. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!August 13, 2012 at 11:46 amReply

    Nice start Jono! You have to love tap roots, don’t you?

    Good news about the stump being a simple job. Stubborn ones are no fun at all.

  6. wellywomanAugust 13, 2012 at 12:43 pmReply

    Jono, I know what you mean about aching the day after. I seem to have developed tennis elbow, amongst many other niggles and twinges. I’m so impressed by that weed root. It’s immensely satisfying to get the whole root out like that.

  7. Jono

    JonoAugust 13, 2012 at 12:57 pmReplyAuthor

    Thanks Alan and WW.

    The roots are amazing. No fun at all. Job’s got to be done though.

    WW – I tried an osteopath when I had tennis elbow. They cured it there and then. Don’t know if that might be worth a try?

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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