Allotment Month 26: sprucing and rearranging

Toward the end of autumn I find the battle against couch grass and other weeds relentless and with the coming winter, I just stop weeding from October. The result is a mess but with January and February around the corner, I personally think it’s best to wait for these cold months to spruce the plot up. 

Throughout January I’ve gradually been weeding the plot one bed at a time. Now is the perfect time for getting those tap rooted perennial weeds out. I do this by hand and either a large garden fork or a hand fork. The hand fork is by far the best as no weed is missed and, on knees, it hurts my back less than constantly bending over with the larger garden fork.

One large area of my allotment was very overgrown and I’ve been tackling that by leaving weed suppressant matting on it for the entirety of last year to really kill all perennial weeds beneath. This area is now ready. I plan to move all of my Dahlias to part of this and rotate my Brassicas here too. These two tough crops will out grow any weed that tries to sneak back in.

By moving the Dahlias, it also means I can use their bed for herbs. I’ve been growing Chamomile and Thyme on in different spots to bulk them up and will move them to this bed in spring after I move the Dahlias.

My clump of Chamomile looks patchy but has spread from a single tiny cutting into this 40 x 40cm patch.

In amongst the weeds, I discovered what I am told – having never grown it before – is horseradish, Armoracia rusticana. Which is an exciting freebie.

Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana

If you’ve been reading my allotment odyssey you’ll know that my plot is full of old metal and plastic junk from better days. Without a car I can’t get rid of it. However, last weekend I went full-force on it, moving it to a disused corner and squashing it down into a much smaller pile. The impact is that the plot finally looks nicer and I now have space for a new shed when I can afford it.

If this whole post basically sounds like a summary of cleaning and tidying, I’m sorry but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing… Not the most exciting of things to report but rewarding and useful for planning. I am ready for the growing season now and the plot is a few steps closer to how I envisioned it. I’ve ordered all of my seeds and have a master plan of the plot I will share soon, promise!

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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