Having an allotment is great. You can use them to grow fruits, vegetables, flowers, trees – just about anything you want!
But the weeds can be a real pain. We don’t always see allotments as much as we do our gardens, so weeds can quickly get out of control.
Taking Over A Neglected Allotment
So, you’ve got your new allotment, you’re very excited, and you head down there armed with seed ready to start planting.
But, oh no! It looks like a football field sized patch of weeds, probably with lots of nettles and brambles thrown in for good measure.
It doesn’t take any time at all for weeds like these to take over an allotment; this is partly because allotment soil is generally well cultivated and fertilised.
The first thing you are going to need to do is clear the weeds. This may be easier said that done, especially if the plot has been abandoned for a while!
You can employ a large machine such as a rotavator, which will make short work of the mess – but you will have to go through and pick out all the tiny roots.
Covering the plot is another option; simply lay sheets of weed control fabric down over the weeds, and wait!
This option will take a little longer, but if you have the time and patience, or you don’t fancy breaking your back with hand weeding, then this can be a great solution.
It is not recommended that you use weedkiller, because the chemicals can be very damaging for the environment and the surrounding wildlife.
What Do You Do With Allotment Weeds?
The best thing you can do with allotment weeds is to get them as far away from your allotment as possible!
Yes, weeds can be composted, but the danger is that they will go into the compost with their seeds intact and could continue to spread if they are allowed to get back onto the soil.
You should either transport your weeds to the local recycling centre, or burn them – leaving weeds about the place can cause issues, especially if they are spreading types.
There are certain weeds, like docks and dandelions, that are incredibly tenacious and will need to be completely removed or they just keep coming back.
If you burn your weeds at the allotment, keep the fire contained so it doesn’t spread. You can then spread the ash onto your plot, as the nitrogen is good for the soil.
How Do You Clear A Large Area Of Weeds?
There are many things you can do to clear weeds, and not all of these ways involve pulling out each weed by hand!
- Block the sunlight. All plants need light to grow, so covering them to remove the light will help.
- Use specialist weeding tools. These are available widely at gardening stores or online, and they will help remove the weeds and save your back.
- Invest in a weed torch. This handy gadget uses a small, directed flame to target the growth and roots of the weeds.
- Pull them out. Although this is the least attractive option, removing the weeds by hand will prevent them returning, as you will remove all the roots.
- You should avoid using herbicides, as these chemicals can seriously affect the delicate ecosystem, and can kill other plants than the ones you are trying to get rid of.
For those who like a visual guide, here are some tips on how to clear a lot of weeds, not necessarily fast, but effectively:
Will A Rotavator Get Rid Of Weeds?
A rotavator is a great option for if you have a large area of weeds, and you do not want or cannot do hours of heavy weeding.
A rotavator uses rotating blades to cut into the soil, helping to remove weeds as well as breaking up and aerating the ground.
Using a rotavator to get rid of your weeds is a speedy solution, and one that should save you hours of back breaking work.
Bear in mind that a rotavator is a heavy piece of machinery though, so if you already have back problems than you may wish to enlist some help!
While a rotavator will do most of the hard work for you, you will still need to sift through the soil for the roots of the weeds, to ensure that they do not grow back.
Watch out especially the really long, tenacious weeds like docks and dandelions, as these dig down very deep.
A rotavator is a great tool for helping to remove weeds and improve your soil – and save your back at the same time!
How Do You Clear An Allotment Without Dig?
If you have inherited an overgrown allotment, you may feel daunted and as though you have bitten off more than you can chew – especially if you don’t like digging!
However, there are ways to clear an allotment without digging even one tiny piece of ground.
- Cut down the tallest weeds. You can use a strimmer or scythe if the weeds are tall.
- Place sheets of light excluding material, such as cardboard, over the soil.
- Lay a deep covering of organic material, such as rotted compost, straw, grass or leaves – or a mix of all these things – over the cardboard.
- This layer should be at least 20cm deep, and you will need to tread it down firmly.
- After around 6 months, the soil organisms will have weakened the weeds so completely that they will be easy to lift from the soil.
- You can plant into this layer as you would your normal soil.
For a thorough explanation of the no-dig method, have a read of this article.
Hopefully having learned how to clear an allotment of weeds has helped you along in your growing career.
Now that you know the best ways to do it, you can keep your allotment free from weeds and keep your vegetables as happy as they can be!