It’s the rent-paying time at the plots, and as usual, I’m behind. I only have a few days before the committee starts coming down on me like a ton of bricks, and I get fined. Just like last year.
Reports suggest that there are over 100,000 people on allotment waiting lists in Britain, but with muppets like me not paying up, and the rents of those who have lost interest expiring, now’s a great time to find yourself a plot. From my experience, the committees don’t mess around. Like the Irish Daily Star, Ron the Boss and his missus call a spade a spade and are not backward in coming forward to get rid of the slackers.
I’ve seen prospective plot holders being shown around recently, but the problem they’ve often got is the only allotments available are those in a right mess. One next to me was taken on in Spring; a new shed put up and a few bits planted, but not touched since. The weeds have taken control, and the next plotholder is going to have to be as good at clearance as this bloke is on his bike just to make the area ready for growing.
Digging out all those weeds by hand is bloody hard work and takes an age, but it is the best way of ensuring all the roots are removed. I wouldn’t fancy putting my back through that again though, even if the old boys tell me it’s the only way to do it.
New allotmenteerists can also make use of a rotovator. Although renting one can prove costly, and you’re left shaking like a spring-loaded nodding dog, a large jungle of a plot can be cleared completely in a weekend. Trouble is, it might look pretty, but the weeds are only being sliced, so they will come back.
Just along the row, a couple is making use of carpets, black plastic, and tarpaulins. If these are left over the plot for the winter, they should suppress the weeds and hopefully kill them off due to a lack of light. This is a time-consuming method though, and you might not get the chance to manure until spring when it is too late.
Taking on a new plot is daunting, especially when I see the state of some, but if you are taking on a new plot stick with it – come summer evening harvests, all that back-breaking work will be a distant memory.