making a solid start

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 to get 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.

rough plan for clearing weeds

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. If you do have any pets, make sure you use pet-friendly weedkiller.

solid startIn 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. 🙂

8 thoughts on “A Patch from Scratch: Making a Solid Start and a Rough Plan for Clearing the Weeds”

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

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

  3. 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!

  4. I have learned to plan veggies at a larger plot. It belongs to my aunty. It was years ago, and I have forgotten how to do it. Maybe because I am not used to do soil work. But I do want to have my own garden to plant fruits and veggies it is healthier to eat them fresh.

  5. 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.

  6. 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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