Compost expense – new allotment plot

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    Hi there, I’ve recently started on a new allotment and have stumbled across this post.

    I’ve been looking into purchasing compost but the price is totting up to approx. £800 which I was hoping to not have to spend! My allotment is 29.5ft by 32ft, I worked this out at 958.75 sqft.

    I have a lot of cardboard to put down first and would like to sort out at least do half the allotment first (as suggested in previous posts on this forum) but unfortunately the people who own the allotment don’t allow the use of plastic covers so I’m concerned the half left will just spread weeds onto the half I’m working on.

    I do want paths which I would like to use wood chippings on (unless other suggestions are recommended)

    The allotment site has grass path for allotment owners to use (which is wide enough for a vehicle) and runs down the side of my allotment where my shed, compost heap (which currently has fresh manure in) and my fruit bushes are. I’m considering getting rid of the fruit bushes so a bulk order can be tipped onto the allotment, otherwise there is no where for the bulk order to be tipped.

    Nightmare and so desperate to get started!

    Any help would be massively appreciated.



    Last year, my first year on this allotment, was facing the same problems. The first bed I made was a lasagne bed. I had some big branches which I made the bed out of and then put cardboard on the bottom over the weeds, a good thick layer, then filled the bed with all the waste I could lay my hands on, just like a compost heap. I put a couple of inches of compost on top. The main difficulty would be the slugs, but I did not experience a huge increase in slugs here compared to the rest of the plot. This bed has grown perpetual spinach, chard, beetroot, spring onions and then sprouting broccoli and kale. Have added nothing more and there is now 6 inches of compost without adding any more to the bed and very few weeds.

    I also made 2 hugel mounds. Dug a trench and put in logs and branches, horse manure, straw, topped off with soil and compost. The theory is it will be self watering and feeding for many years. Again they were planted in the first year and grew romanesco caulis, parsley, sweet potato (not great yields!)tomatoes, cucamelons, cucumbers,and squash. I started in April too.

    Just a couple of ideas, if they are new to you there’s lots of info on the web.



    Thank you!

    I have access to a lot of horse manure, I could lay cardboard and cover with a thick layer of fresh manure and leave that half of the allotment for a year before planting whilst I work on the other half with purchased compost, maybe this would work?!

    Would love a go at a lasagne bed too!



    I am sure that it would work, but I would cover the horse manure with black plastic, old carpets, weed supressing fabric or something like that. Anything to stop the weeds growing on your lovely horse manure. While you are toiling away on the rest of the plot. If you have a Home Bargains store anywhere near to you, they sell weed supressant fabric really reasonably and it is pretty strong stuff, you would be able to use it more than once if you need to.



    If using horse manure, I was advised by a well-informed friend to check that the horses have not been eating grass that has been sprayed – I am not sure of the precise details, but apparently many spray the grass to (I think) improve the grass for the horses, but this can effect the ability of some veg like beans to grow and takes a few years before it clears from the soil. Maybe someone else knows the exact details.



    Yes Patrick this is a possible hazard, of small risk but worth checking for by growing some beans, peas or tomatoes in any suspect horse manure before spreading.
    The active ingredient is aminopyralid, google that to discover more, and it’s written up on this site after some of us had problems.
    I don’t want to discourage use of horse manure, but it’s good to check.



    Thank you very much for your advice.

    The horse manure is from my own field where we keep donkeys, the grass has never been sprayed or treated so shouldn’t be an issue (thankfully!)

    I’m unable to use plastic or carpet on my allotment as the owners of the plots are quite particular. I’ve been able to find a biodegradable mulch paper which after 12 months decomposes into the soil and meanwhile keeps weeds at bay.

    Here’s a link for anyone interested –

    Thanks 🙂



    Not sure why you are worried about the manure then!
    As for that paper, I would save your money, it is just thick paper/thin cardboard, lasts much less than 12 months once damp and if you really need such a mulch, I would use cardboard.



    Hi again,

    I was just querying from the advice given in the previous posts re. possible issue with manure / advice to cover the manure with a weed suppressant.

    If cardboard on top of the weeds, lots of manure and cardboard again will work then I more than happy to do this.

    Thanks again



    Hi Jen seeing that you have a new allotment,the natural assumption is that there is good soil.
    Soil is the growing medium for all the vegetables etc you want to grow.I just wonder why you feel the need to go down the lasagne route?



    Hi Paul,

    Because my allotment is quite overgrown with weeds and having posted previously images of my allotment on this forum on another post, the lasagne method has been recommended by other participants and from looking into the no dig approach I feel it must be the best route to go down as I obviously wouldn’t want to dig and the weeds need to be supressed. The cost of purchasing compost to cover the size of the allotment would be pretty pricey and as I have access to a lot of donkey manure it seemed to make sense to cover the weeds (once cut down) with thick cardboard and cover with fresh manure, because the manure would need to be left for a year it has been recommended on the forum to cover the manure so weeds don’t grow.

    Unfortunately the person who over sees the allotment plots are quite strict, they won’t allow plastic or carpets to be used to cover ground so looks like cardboard is my best and cheapest option.

    Would you recommend differently?




    Hi Jensplot,
    I suspect that at least some of the manure you have available, would be older? I think you could apply this over cardboard, having mowed off the bulk of the vegetation. Dig out any brambles, tree seedlings etc. etc. You could then directly plant out some plants this year. Certainly curcubits, beans, peas, chard, beet, and anything you have as plants. If you prefer not to eat salads grown in close proximity(that is, on) the manure, then you could blind the manure with some soil or MP compost just on that area. I converted part of a pasture field this way and planted out strait away with good results. In my experience, little actually goes wrong, despite random warnings of doom from others! No doubt they speak in good faith?



    Hello Cleansweep

    Ah absolutely, the forum is great for the advice given so far and to get a bit of guidance.

    Yes some of the manure is a bit older but the oldest has gone over to my dad for his raise beds!

    Thanks for your tip re blinding the manure 🙂




    Hi Jen, sounds like you’re raring to go! If you do need lots of cardboard, just wanted to mention that I have found great sources of large scale cardboard packaging – a specialist bicycle shop, Halfords and Homebase, all in a local retail park. They are only too happy to get rid of it. Only thing is you need to remove any metal staples before using. But it’s done a great job on my allotment – no sign of any weeds coming through layer of cardboard then layer of composted stable manure. Good luck and enjoy your allotment – agree with Charles, this is such a gorgeous time of year :))

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