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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.

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Problems With Weeds!

Just about all of the Allotments are being worked now and they are getting tidier day by day. Those that have been idle all Winter are proving the most difficult for plot holders to get tidy as even a few weeks of neglect and the weeds seem to take over. What always makes me smile though is when people have gone to great lengths to remove every last tiny weed and till the soil to a fine surface. Then they have sown tidy rows of seeds of whatever vegetable only to find great big Potato shoots coming up everywhere! I shouldnít laugh really because it is something that canít be avoided after planting Potatoes the previous year. It doesnít matter how carefully you dig them up there is always a few left to shoot again the next season. No doubt other plot-holders have a good wry smile when they pass my plots as not only have I got Potatoes coming up but, I also have Jerusalem Artichokes whose tops quickly grow to resemble trees and Oca that of course look like overgrown Clover!

As with many of the plots I have got one little corner that is full of weeds and one day I was feeling guilty about the little unkempt patch with itís few dandelions. I was sitting on my new bench building up my enthusiasm to do a bit more work when I looked over my shoulder at the adjacent field and saw that it was carpeted with a very pretty sea of yellow. There werenít one, or two Dandelions, there were thousands upon thousands! Naturally a few days later there were clouds of fluffy seeds blowing over everywhere, so I had no reason to feel guilty at all about the few in my plot. The other side of the site plot-holders have another problem later in the season from the Wheat seed coming over and if the Paddock isnít let next to me I will get grass seed. The allotments are situated in beautiful countryside and many weed seeds will also carry on the wind a long way from the surrounding hedgerows etc. I think a few weeds now and again though are part of the price we pay for having the peaceful scenery and allotments are never as neat and tidy as people imagine they should be.

The Allotments have a serene atmosphere and they have traditionally been seen as a place to go where you can escape some of the stresses of life. However, for those people who have got serious problems the last thing they need to worry about is keeping their allotment tidy and even the best kept plots go through periods when they get weeded up for whatever reason anyway. You only have to turn your back for a week, or two for neglect to set in. Quite a few plot-holders resort to covering their plots with tarpaulins for a few weeks when they know they are not going to be able to work on them. Some buy other types of covering membrane, but most find that the cheap ones perish in the sun with the material breaking up very quickly. If they are not heavy enough they donít keep out the light anyway allowing the weeds to carry on growing underneath. Some plot-holders have resorted to simply cutting down the top growth with our communal strimmer. It is only a temporary measure, but it is fairly quick and does prevent the weeds from seeding. One person even tried using a flame-gun on his surrounding paths in an attempt to control them. We have lovely aggregate paths and the physical weeding of them destroys their surface, so dealing with the weeds on them is always a problem. I have resorted to using a systemic weed killer that is sprayed onto the foliage of the weeds before it is absorbed and then it goes right down to the roots to kill the weed. Systemic weed-killers generally become inert upon contact with soil so are usually thought of as complying with ďOrganic,Ē Rules.

After weeding their plots some people are taking their weeds off the site as the communal compost bins are full, but others have been encouraged by their installation to start their own. I have always been concerned over the removal of weeds from the site, because of the loss of soil, but everyone keeps telling me that thereís very little soil left on their weeds. However, some plots are definitely losing soil as you can see where the soil has been pulled away from the paths and you only have to look at the 4 compost bins to see where some of it has gone. Hopefully, it will be replaced on the plots when the bins are emptied at the end of the Summer and the waste has composted properly.

When we first set up the large bins we had problems with assorted bits of plastic and other unwanted rubbish being put into them. Another problem was Raspberry canes and the like that hadnít been chopped up, but after a few gentle words that all seems to have stopped. The next real hurdle to overcome will be when the bins are emptied, as people were reluctant to use the compost when they have been emptied previously. This time however, we wonít be emptying one at a time, as all 4 bins will be ready at the same time! Hopefully plot-holders will realise that the compost is ideal for bulking out their new Raised beds that they all seem to be installing. Perhaps some of them will have seen the TV gardeners who are always telling viewers to use homemade compost as a mulch, otherwise we are going to have a real problem deciding what to do with all that soil! 


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