Real Men Sow

3 Ways to Get Growing Even If Your New Allotment is Overgrown


When you take on an unruly plot, it can sometimes be hard to envisage ever growing veg there at all; such is the state of the weeds and junk.

Our plot was one of a few in a bad way at our local allotments, and given how long it could take to turn the space around, we’ve been offered these ones rent free for a year.

However, clearing doesn’t have to take forever, and there are neat ways in which you can get growing almost straight away regardless of plot condition.

In Part 2 of a series of posts about how me and mum cleared an overgrown allotment, here’s 3 ways in which recipients of messy plots can start cultivating veg right from the off.

Try Growing in Containers
Whilst you’re working hard bringing the plot back to life, try increasing available space by growing in containers. You can home the containers on top of tarpaulin or carpet you’ve laid down over weeds, and fill them with some of the soil which you’ve dug over.

Container veg will need more water than veg grown in the ground but salad leaves, peas, chard and tomatoes all do well in containers.

Raised beds
I had an overgrown plot next to my old allotment, and the new plotholder pulled the big stuff up and then built raised beds. The remaining grass was left as paths in between the beds, and very smart it looked too.

My neighbour was growing immediately, rather than spending months getting a very untidy plot sorted out. He used soil dug out from the plot as he went and turned the weeds and grass into an excellent growing space in just a few weeks.

Dig and Sow, Dig and Sow
Rather than concentrate on clearing your whole plot ready for one big growing splurge, it’s worth considering digging and preparing small areas with specific plants in mind. This requires some planning, but means that you can grow as you go along, as well as getting parts of your plot producing crops within just a few weeks of taking it on.

On our plot, we sowed in pots and then dug over the space whilst the seedlings grew. This gave us time to prepare a small, manageable chunk of plot for the plants as they grew at home.

I found this a good approach as we were focused in our digging, and suddenly there was a goal to what we were doing. It was also motivating when digging was proving a pain, as we knew that once we’d finished there was something to go straight in.

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One Comment

  1. CatherineJuly 1, 2014 at 5:07 pmReply

    I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of renting a pygmy goat or pig for this kind of thing. There was a lot of coverage of people doing that when they wanted to clear junk sites in Portugal last year and it seems like a good idea as long as the mess won’t harm them (that is, as long as the area is just overgrown rather than choked with tyres etc). What do you think – a temporary pig enclosure might work? Provided you know someone with a pig of course…

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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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