I thought I’d share a bit about the plot I’ll be working on, so we’ll be diverting from skirret to cultivation and maybe some Three Sisters in a few weeks.
So. This plot is 9m x 14m, south facing, pretty flat, bordered by other allotments and what seems to be pasture. According to Soilscapes it is “slightly acid, loamy-clayey, moderate to high fertility, impeded drainage”. The buttercups seem to back this up. It was ploughed two years ago, cultivated for one year, and neglected for the past year.
There seems to be decent grass coverage, lots of creeping buttercup, occasional spear and creeping thistles, a handful of docks and the odd willowherb. I also eventually uncovered a raised bed with some impressive seed stalks – I suspect carrot?
Two hours with a sickle and rake gave me 9m x 4m of shorter vegetation. There are some odd lumps and bumps in the ground, and a couple of binbags of leaf mould. I also found a folding chair!
Once the rest is trimmed, I have a few options. I can go for some lazy beds where there is enough grass cover (and if I rustle up some seed potatoes). I’ve been offered use of a rotavator, so could turn over the whole lot, sow densely with a green manure, and then start planting crops amongst that. Any digging risks spreading the buttercup roots. Another option would be to cover the lot in thick black plastic, though then I would lose a lot of water. I don’t have the means to bring in enough mulch to do a lasagna-style thing.
I have also sown in pots some maize, winter squash, and peas/beans to do a rough version of the three sisters, because why not? The squash foliage is also good for shading out weeds. If I did lazy beds, would the squash go on top and the maize/beans in the trenches? Or vice versa?
Another point to note – there are two triangular areas bordering the allotments that are currently mainly grass with some docks and buttercup. I’m seeing an unwanted seed source, but also a potential source of compost…