If you are planning to harvest new plants on a allotment that is overrun with weeds, or simply want to know the best way to clear weeds from an allotment, then you can achieve this task as long as you perform the necessary steps.
Most people and various online blogs will advise you on the different ways to clear an allotment but very few guide you through the practical steps needed to complete this task successfully. Luckily, we have put the best effort in this article to help you with your gardening needs. As a result, dealing with an overgrow allotment will be an easier task than what you might think it would be.
Step 1: Identify the weeds
The first step is to take a look around the plot and try to identify the types of weeds that are growing. The two primary types of weeds are annual weeds and perennial weeds. These two categories of weeds are sub-divided into broad-leaf and grassy weeds.
Knowing the types of weeds that are growing in the allotment will give you a good idea on the growing conditions for each plant. For instance, perennial broad-leaf weeds such as nettle, creeping buttercup, and daisy flowers indicate that the soil is highly acidic. Other weeds such as bindweed and morning glory have the ability to re-grow from the seeds spread through the roots.
Woody weeds such as brambles are more difficult to clear and eliminate. They have the ability to spread their seeds by the tips of their rooting stems.
If your allotment is filled with weeds such as the stinging nettle, then this is a good indicator that your soil is very fertile. An important thing to know is that perennial weeds are much harder to eliminate than annual weeds.
To sum it up, assessing the types of weeds growing in your allotment will help you decide which weed control method you should use. Remember, there are many ways of getting rid of weeds such as torch burning, weedicides, manual tools, weed membrane fabric, and homemade weed killers.
Step 2: Clearing the rubbish
If the allotment is ridden with tall weeds, then you need to get access to a garden trimmer to plough through the plants so the plot can be cleared. It is a good idea to wear gardening gloves, stout boots, and a forestry helmet to keep safe. A wheelbarrow will come in handy when you are clearing the rubbish.
If the weeds are medium sized then cutting them with a lawn mower is enough. If you are intending to rotavate then read how to rotavate an allotment.
For the regular common weeds it is best to pull them out manually. The process of weeding manually can be made easy with the fiskars weed puller.
The best time to remove overgrown allotment weeds is early spring or mid-autumn when it has not rained for at least a week but has rained in the previous month. The reason for this is because you do not want to work in an area where the ground is rock solid or the soil is too moist.
Step 3: Clear weeds
As mentioned earlier there are two types of weeds.
First, there are annual weeds which grow and reproduce quickly and in large quantities. They will generate thousands of seeds in as quickly as two weeks. Because annual weeds grow in a cycle you can control them effectively from the early growing season. By using a weed puller you can take out annual weeds with a few shallow strokes.
Second, there are perennial weeds that are far more difficult to eliminate. Perennial weeds will grow from any left over portion of the roots which make these weeds very pesky to control. They have an extensive network of roots which helps perennials keep their seeds in tact. They also have fleshy tap roots compared to the fibrous root network of annual weeds.
Best way to clear annual weeds
Annual weeds are far easier to get rid of than perennials. This is why the best method to clear annual weeds is to use a natural weed suppressing mulch.
Like all plants, weeds need light to grow and getting rid of unwanted weeds can be done by starving the weeds of sunshine. A natural mulch are thick coverings that contain organic matter such as wood bark, manure, and compost. The best time to apply a natural mulch is early spring before the unwanted plants have had the opportunity to sprout.
By applying natural mulch in early Spring, you can reap the benefits, you get from the wet soil because lots of rain occurs in the month of April. The mulch will break down by the end of the summer, and additional mulch will need to be applied each growing season. If any weeds do grow after the natural mulch has been applied, they will be weak and can effortlessly be pulled out.
If you have a supply of wood bark, manure, and compost then you can put together your very own homemade mulch.
However, if you do not have any of the ingredients required then you need to purchase a mulch.
The best mulch for allotments is the Westland 100L Landscape Bark. It contains screened large bark chips that are suitable for various types of applications such as flower beds and borders. It acts as a ground cover mulch and helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and thermally protect the crop. It does have a couple of negative reviews but they a are a very small perecentage and insignificant.
Best way to clear perennial weeds
As stated earlier, perennial weeds are tougher to clear. Taking into account the difficulty to get rid of perennial weeds, the best method to clear them is by using an allotment black plastic sheeting. These black polythene sheeting for gardens are also referred to as weed membranes or weed control fabric/cardboard.
Weed control fabric should be applied directly onto the soil surface and should cover the full area on which the weeds are growing. Do not use a carpet because they can leach chemicals into the soil and they are easily breakable so that the fibers begin decomposing. Hence, it is advised you choose the best weed control membrane.
The membrane should be left in place for 1-2 years. You will need to cut holes where the plants can grow. However, pay extra attention to any tips of shoots that begin to grow as they need to be removed as soon as possible.
After applying this method, the weeds should be dead and you can easily dig them out. Another important point is to remove any rhizomes you may find because they may still have a chance to grow back.
Furthermore, if you are clearing the plot but do not intend to cultivate any plants right away then you need to sow a green manure. This will keep the soil healthy and nutrient-rich.
Using a weed killer
If you are dealing with stronger weeds such as Horsetail, you may need to use a chemical weed killer. There are many types of ingredients that go into making a herbicide but the mainstream chemical is Glyphosate. Glyphosate weedicides are intended to be used on tough perennial weeds that do not respond to alternative efforts and are one of the ways to eliminate weeds forever.
As a result, choose a selective herbicide if you wish to retain wanted plants and/or grass or use a non-selective herbicide if you wish to clear the entire field.
Its recommended to apply a herbicide when the weeds are still sprouting up during early spring. At this time, the plant is most vulnerable.
Step 4: Compost dead weeds
If you are dealing with smaller weeds compost them, however if the weeds have roots of 3 cm + dispose of them. Basically, you can throw the smaller weeds into a black plastic back and within half a year they will produce a quality, high-nutrient soil. The weeds with longer roots can be ready for composting if you leave them in a tub of water for several days. This dead matter can be added to your compost heap.
It may be a good idea to separate weeds from the rest of the compost because weeds will often produce dormant seeds that can start growing when the soil is favorable.
If you are dealing with super weeds such as some type of Mares Tail then you should consider looking at using a herbicide which is also called a weed killer.
In conclusion, the timing of applying each of the methods above for clearing an allotment is an important factor because it can help achieve the best results and ensure unnecessary money has not been spent on products you do not need. For instance, there is no need to use a weed killer for annual weeds because annual weeds are very easy to remove with other methods. Knowing the best way to clear an allotment may seem to be a daunting task at first, but it can be made quick and easy by breaking down the process into a step-by-step format.