*AD: This post is part of a paid partnership with Bosch Home & Garden.
Back in July, we took on an allotment plot after putting our names down on a waiting list last year. I shared a little look around our new allotment soon after, although admittedly, it just looked like one crazy overgrown mess! A few months on, we’re now clearing the space out and preparing our new allotment plot for winter, so of course, I thought I’d share our progress with you.
Over the summer months, we didn’t do much to the plot, although we did clear out two beds and sowed some lettuce and carrot seed. Surprisingly, we successfully managed to grow both(!), although admittedly, the carrots were a little on the small side.
Other than that very small harvest, we’ve done nothing else to our plot. Although, I actually think this was probably for the best as it’s given us more time to think about the space and we’ve actually changed some of our existing plans, like keeping the original raised beds.
As the weather’s become colder, we thought we would prepare the soil and general area for the frosty winter’s months, especially when we really wanted to make sure that we could make the most out of the allotment next year! This is where the Bosch 18V range really helped in getting everything ready as we needed a good range of cordless tools!
Anyway, I’ll share more of our plans towards the end of this post, but here’s a little run-down of everything we’ve done over the last month to get this allotment ready for winter! Although this post relates to a disused overgrown and abandoned plot, I think these steps will become the basis of the winter prep we’ll do yearly.
Preparing an Allotment For Winter
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Clearing and De-weeding The Allotment
If it wasn’t already painfully obvious, the first thing we needed to do, was de-weed and clear out our new allotment plot. As our plot is fairly sizeable, this actually took A LOT of work.
We pulled out most of the longer weeds by hand and piled them up in a corner of the plot, where they’ll eventually be transferred into the compost bin.
For tougher weeds or shorter weeds which weren’t as easy to remove by hand, we used a hoe to dislodge them. This is one of the original tools we found in our garden when we first moved 6 years ago. Finally coming in handy!!
This job in itself probably took a good few afternoons of work and some serious backache! We had a mass of nettles to contend with (I left that job for Grant – lucky him eh?!) and a crazy amount of rhubarb, which had roots the size of an elephants trunk!
Trim Back Borders and Pathways
At the sides of our allotment (and also the back), we have grass pathways, which are communal paths to allow for access for the other surrounding allotment plots.
These paths are jointly maintained, although as you can see – we’ve been letting the team down with our overgrown edges!
This is something we’ll need to keep on-top of moving forward, but it’s also definitely a job that needs to be done before going into winter and leaving the plot for the next few months.
Bosch very kindly sent us an ART 23-18 LI cordless grass trimmer to use for this job, which made very quick work of it! The trimmer is really very lightweight and also quite compact for storage, which I was really pleased about, considering our garden shed is rather small!
At the same time though, the cordless grass trimmer also extends to fit your perfect height, so there’s no bending over when in use.
The trimmer is battery operated, making it PERFECT for use away from the house in an allotment like this – The POWER FOR ALL ALLIANCE is one of the largest cross brand 18V battery systems of leading manufacturers worldwide and allows you to interchange batteries from a range of product from a number of different brands. No cable. No limits. You can take the 18 V battery from your vacuum cleaner and have it power all of your gardening tools on the allotment! Save money, save space and protect the environment!
If you want to read more about the benefits of the POWER FOR ALL ALLIANCE including the founding members Bosch Home & Garden, check out this post for more information.
We’d never used a trimmer before but were really impressed with how easy it was to use. Being lightweight meant we never got arm strain and our plot neighbour even commented on how quiet it was compared to his petrol trimmer. A full battery lasted around 30minutes, which was more than enough time for tidying up these edges.
Removing and Repairing Rotten Beds
Initially, we’d planned to reuse the wooden beds we’d inherited with the plot and just replace those that were desperately rotten. However, after some of our wooden beds went missing (presumably someone thought the plot was abandoned and helped themselves), we decided that actually, we may as well replace the whole lot.
We figured it would probably be less work in the long-run this way, although we won’t actually be building new beds until next year.
Removing the old beds was really easy to do using the Bosch AdvancedRecip 18 Reciprocating Saw which we’d also been sent to try. This was another one of the tools compatible within the Bosch POWER FOR ALL range that meant we could quickly interchange the battery that we’d been using for other tools on the project.
The Bosch AdvancedRecip18 itself is really useful for all kinds of demolition work and can be used on a range of materials from wood to plastic to metal and you could even use on branches if you have any trees/bushes too!
Instead of having to unscrew the wooden beds, one screw at a time, we simply just chopped straight through those screws with the saw, leaving tidy clean cuts and no sharp screw ends to accidentally stand on.
The saw went through all the materials we cut really quickly, so much that this whole job took just minutes!
Whilst we were ripping apart the raised beds, we also decided to remove the old broken poly-tunnel too. Again, Grant just cut the poles apart, using the same saw and same blade. It saved us having to manually dismantle the frame and actually, I think some of the poles now cut down to a more manageable size could come in handy around the plot next year!
Whilst we had the tools out and to hand, we also repaired the compost bin, which was looking a tad wonky, using a Bosch Uneo MaxxCordless drill. We removed the compost inside the bin to do this (more on that in a bit!) and simply re-enforced the bin with a piece of wood across the top. Hopefully, this will keep it secure until next year when we plan to move and re-build it entirely!
Removing Excess Rubbish
Speaking of rotten beds and other rubbish, our allotment plot was covered in it! Amongst the weeds, you’d find plastic bottles, old carpet, broken tubs, food packaging, old gloves, you name it. It was an absolute MESS.
Whether you’re cleating out a new (abandoned) allotment plot or not, it’s always a good idea to remove excess waste before winter. We probably did around 3/4 skip runs in total – mostly getting rid of old carpet! Our poor car.
Emptying or Turning the Compost Heap!
We were really fortunate to inherit a compost bin along with our plot and a pretty sizeable one at that! We’d planned to simply turn the compost heap to aerate it, however, we quickly realised the compost pile was actually ready for use.
According to a neighbour, the bin hadn’t been emptied in about FOUR years! We had enough compost to cover the whole plot with around a 2-4cm layer, which felt like A LOT of compost. Poor old Grant was shovelling for hours! I had great fun trying to get the artiest snaps of him flinging mud across the air though. 😉
As we added the compost, we also tried to level the ground out using a rake, filling in any dips and low points as we went. It’s obviously not perfect, but a whole lot better than it was!
Once we’d removed the compost from the bin, we could turn in all the new waste we’d collected from pulling out weeds. The bin very quickly soon filled back up and hopefully in a year or so we’ll have some new compost from it!
As well as adding compost to the ground, we had also planned to add some manure as well.
Unfortunately, the farmer who delivers the manure said it would be a six-week wait, as he was so busy right now. Given it would be December by this point, we decided to leave adding manure this time around.
Of course, we could have bought bagged manure from a shop, but it would have cost considerably more. We at least know for next year that we need to put our order in earlier!
Covering The Ground with Heavy-Duty Landscaping Fabric
Slowly but surely our plot went from being an overgrown weedy mess to being cleared, levelled and with fresh compost added. We could finally see the area in which we were dealing with!
I know, it looks HUGE and I guess, it is. In total, it measures around 9m by 15m making it bigger than our garden, which is just crazy.
To save ourselves backache and having to re-clear weeds again in a few months, we’ve covered the plot in heavy-duty landscaping fabric. This is the same stuff we’ve used underneath gravel and our DIY scaffold decking, which you’ve probably seen me bang on about time and time again.
The difference between heavy-duty fabric and the basic cheaper fabric is that it won’t tear. Unlike sheet plastic, it’s permeable and will let water through, meaning you won’t end up creating a mini bog too! It’s not the cheapest to buy and we spent around £50 on fabric for a plot this size – but we can re-use the fabric year after year, so we felt it was an investment worth making.
To lay the landscaping fabric down, we used galvanised garden pegs every 30cm or so, to keep it from blowing off in harsh winds.
Of course, if we had raised beds on our plot we would only need to cover those, not the entire area like this! I know some people prefer to use carpet or cardboard to do this, but having seen how the existing carpet faired on our plot, we weren’t so keen on that. And we also felt cardboard would just be a mess to remove next year.
We can, however, re-use some of this fabric next year when we make little paths in-between the beds, so it will certainly come in use again.
Anyway, that’s it! Our plot is now clear and ready for winter! Bit of an improvement from the before shot, huh?
There are a couple of other jobs to complete, like trimming back the asparagus and berry bushes, however, they’re not quite ready for trimming yet, so that’ll be something we’ll pop back and do in the next month or so!
Our Allotment Plans for Next Year
I am SO excited for next year and the next growing season. We have a whole list of vegetables we want to grow and we’re planning to create an entirely new layout as well. I won’t get into too much detail at this stage because you never know – we may change our minds!
BUT to give you a little idea of our current rough plans here’s a little peek:
We’re complete newbies to growing our own fruit/veg, so I’m sure we won’t be 100% successful at growing everything, but as long as we’re learning on the way, then it’ll be worth it!
I hope this post was useful if you’ve taken on a new allotment and have no clue where to begin – we totally feel you! I’ll be sharing more allotment content next year, or you can always follow me on Instagram for real-time updates too!
Until then, I think I’ll be resting this poor back 😉
The Bosch Home and Garden tools I used for this project were the:
*AD: This post was part of a paid partnership with Bosch Home & Garden.