Clearing a plot

Picture from the collection

by Tony Hollander

Preparing the ground

Unless you are very lucky, your new plot will have been out of cultivation for a few months. The first job, therefore, and one which will determine your success over the coming seasons, is to prepare the ground. If you start in the summer, you may be faced with what looks like impenetrable jungle. Do not despair. Grown weeds can be easily slashed back or burnt off. If you start in early spring, most of the perennial weeds will have retreated underground and the annual ones hardly sprouted. Do not be taken in. In either case the land will need prompt, drastic attention.

Using a range of tools

If you like digging and have plenty of time, start digging. Otherwise, to remove surface growth, use a strimmer or old-fashioned hand scythe or sickle to do the job adequately. If the problem has got to the point of a mass of bramble roots and nettles, we suggest that you use the Association’s flail mower, and then dig out the roots. The flail will cope with almost anything but not metal, wire, carpet, plastic sheeting, or netting! Previous plot-holders may well have improvised all manner of cloche, cold frame or fruit cage, the wreckage of which may now lurk half buried on your land. Before using any mechanical equipment, make sure you comb the land for dangerous obstacles; they can inactivate and damage machines causing frustrating delays and expense. Flails, mowers and strimmers fling debris far and wide, so do keep spectators well clear and protect yourself - your legs, eyes, etc. Do keep safety in mind at all times. We recommend you wear protective goggles and sturdy boots and keep everyone else a good 10 metres away from the action. Instruction sheets for the machines are in the shed; if you are not really sure how to use them, please do ask one of the committee members.