Real Men Sow

7 Tips for Getting the Most From Tidying Up the Allotment


Over the past fortnight or so, I’ve been clearing the remains of summer away from my plot and beginning the process of manuring the soil ready for winter and another growing season next year.

I’ve made fair progress so far, tidying one bed and spreading compost over the top, and I’m about halfway through another one. Its a job I like to take my time over, and as long as I’m manured by Chrimbo I’m generally happy.

Although a job that can be taken time over, tidying up after summer is still an important one. Here are 7 tips for getting the most from autumn clear up.

Everything in its Right Place
Make sure you dispose of any weeds you pull up, rather than put them in your compost bin. I know plotholders who compost down everything, including their weeds, but I prefer to keep my compost bins free of weeds as I reckon they’re perfect environments for the critters to revitalise and end up back in your soil.

Don’t compost down any infected fruits, such as blighted tomatoes.

Pop your veg plants into the compost bin, but if you’ve got any peas or beans chop the plants off a few inches above the ground and let the roots and base rot down into the soil. Peas and beans contain lots of good nutrients for the soil.

Tools and Paraphernalia
Don’t forget all your plot paraphernalia like bean canes and tools. Get them stored away as quickly as possible so the weather doesn’t deteriorate them.

Take the Time to Get the Weeds Out Properly
Now is the perfect time to be pulling out weeds. Leave them in and they’ll just come back more vigorously next year.

Removing the whole root is really import as snipping off the top won’t necessarily kill the weed. Some weeds can regrow from bits of root left in the ground, so do your best to get the whole thing out.
Some tap roots can grow to a foot in length, which means you’ll need a trowel, or even a spade for the extra bigguns.

Little and Often
Much like digging, clearing up can be a right chore. Different plotholders will tackle the Autumn tidy in different ways. Some people like a marathon day to get it licked all in one go, but I like little and often, especially now the weather is turning.

And know when to call it a day. Don’t stay on the plot if you don’t want to be there. If you yawn, go home and put your feet up!

Make Some Notes as You Go
Even if they’re mental notes, use the opportunity to pore over your plot and take stock of the season just gone. What grew well where? And what didn’t grow so well?

Why might this be? Were things planted too close together? Or maybe the soil wasn’t rich enough?

Think Ahead!
Try thinking how you might plant the legumes, brassicas and root veg in their own beds for the coming year. Not only will they will have similar growing requirements and make soil preparation easier, keeping winter crops together means you can also clear whole beds at a time. This makes winter tidying, manuring and digging much easier.

Don’t Forget the Shed and Greenhouse!
Don’t overlook these other integral parts of an allotment of veg plot! A greenhouse can harbour lots of slimies in amongst leftover pots and will need a good clean before next year’s sowing season.

And everyone loves their shed. Here are a few reasons to give yours some TLC. :)


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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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