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Allotments, without digging
A tale of two allotments
NOTTINGHAM ALLOTMENT, RECLAIMED AND RUN WITHOUT DIGGING
Here are some pictures of Robin Baxter's no dig allotment in Ilkeston, Derbyshire which he took over in a dire state, just after visiting Lower Farm in 2008. The images are testament to his commitment and to the fact that he is no stranger to hard graft where it is needed, mostly at the beginning stages. The plot is now clean, fertile, needs much less input of time and he grows a lot of delicious food there now.
A mess in September 2008
a different view of the plot...
and the dilapidated greenhouse
and a polytunnel to replace the greenhouse, Feb 09
also by October 2008, ground is cleared to new beds with digging to remove a lot of rubbish and large stones
by January 2010 the allotment is clean and fertile,
as you can see from the growth by May 2010
and there is abundance by August, also Robin always keeps the plot clean by small, frequent weedings
and he saves his own lettuce seeds in the polytunnel, photo August '10
here he is in May 2011, gathering some lettuce
and this is one superb result of his gardening
BRUTON, SOMERSET: STEPH HAFFERTY
And here are some photos of Steph's allotment in Bruton where, instead of digging in 2008/9, Steph spread green waste compost and some cow manure on beds that were already in place, just slightly raised soil with no wooden edges or borders of any kinds. Before that she had done a thorough weed although many annual weeds would have been smothered by the three inch covering.
December 2008, before spreading the compost.
The soil is heavy clay and perennial weeds are endemic to the site - creepng tourmentil, couch grass and bindweed, but no marestail. Steph had got on top of the perennials during the two preceding seasons but was not harvesting a huge amount of vegetables, especially in autumn and winter.
February: here the soil is ready for compost to be spread, simply cleared of any visible weeds and the beds levelled with a rake..
This is after two hours work by two of us, spreading green waste compost which a lorry had delivered to the allotments' gateway about 100 feet away. It was a six ton load and Steph's allotment used four tons, the rest went to other allotments. Her outlay on compost was around £95 and then another £10 for two and a half tons of well rotted cow manure which she spread as well as the compost.
Four tons was spread: beds and pathways are now covered with about two inches (5cm) of lovely black, weed free compost. There are fouteen slightly raised beds with narrow pathways between them. The green waste compost contains quite a few small bits of wood and is not hugely rich in nutrients, but is free of weed seeds and serves well as an initial weed suppressing and life enhancing mulch. Worms can now get busy while fungi, bacteria and all the vital organisms needed for a healthy, fertile can multiply.
By 19 July the allotment was full of vegetables and flowers. There are some lumps of cow manure on the surface: after spreading this in February, Steph knocked the lumps into pieces as small as possible, and they have weathered a little.
Four weeks later in mid August. Steph does not rest on her laurels and planted right through the summer, so as to have harvests in late autumn and winter. Behind the chard is some kale which was planted in early July. Also there are recently planted endives and chicories for autumn salad, which are dotted around the allotment.
these turnips and kale had grown well by October and Steph is happy with her wonderful quantity of leeks
Again in mid October, a tale of two allotments, Steph's on the right and Alan's on the left: he has been digging to clear the summer's weeds.
In late autumn and winter, Steph spread an inch or two of cow manure on most beds, having purchased a load from a farmer nearby. It cost £4/tonne.
by July 2010 growth is abundant again, of both summer and winter vegetables.
and here is the allotment in September 2010
Then in 2012, Alan did a sponsored bike ride and was absent a lot so he suggested that Steph help out with his allotment. Her idea was to spread cow manure about two inches thick and weed any plants pushing through, with winter squash planted in June. However... the weather messed this up rather as a combination of residual weeds and slugs and a lack of good weeding weather meant that harvests were small on Alan's plot, although good as usual on her own allotment, with few weeds.