Malcolm Smith's Allotment
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I have a fairly basic principal for general cultivation on my allotment, on which I practise a four year rotation cycle.
On plots that are due for root crops, I dig over with a spade, turning in any annual weeds. On other plots, I dig or double dig in autumn or early winter, then top dress with rotted stable manure. All plots are turned over with a fork or at least loosened up before sowing or planting.
Where I double dig, having taken out the top spit with a spade, I spread rotted dung on the lower spit then dig it in with a fork, removing the large stones that come up. I replace the top spit and top dress with rotted dung. As the allotment is on the flood plain of a river, there are plenty of stones. Those I remove I spread in the gateway to the allotment to firm up the soft muddy patches.
During the growing season, I keep the weeds down with regular hoeing but hand weed where this is not possible. I do resort to a systemic spray carefully applied to deep-rooted bindweed or dandelions if necessary. Despite all this, weeds do sometimes get the upper hand but I try not to let them go to seed.
Pests and disease I try to deal with without resorting to chemicals. I will report on progress during the year.
I have a useful set of tools, most of which I have purchased from our local recycling centre, usually for £1 each. Despite their source, the tools are all quite presentable. I find the Hand Cultivator particularly useful. I have also bought a couple of wheelbarrows from the same source. Neither barrow is perfect but they each do their job. There were a few small hand tools left in the shed when I took the allotment over and additionally I had a small hand cultivator which I had inherited from somewhere. I have only bought two new items. One is a special fork for lifting the potatoes as using an ordinary fork tends to leave potatoes in the ground and they become a nuisance in following years. The other is a billhook for chopping up thick stems and roots for composting.
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