Monthly Archives: September 2010

Brambles and the need for weedkiller

The plot is so heavily overgrown with bramble that we’ve had to resort to chemical measures.  Today we sprayed the dock and brambles with weedkiller.  It was an ideal day for it – still and dry, allowing for the weedkiller to be absorbed.  This is the best time of year to do it, when the plant is passing sugars down to the root system for winter storage.

In the last few days we have cut back the long, trailing stems on about a third of the plot.  Now we sprayed a mixture of  two chemicals recommended by the RHS – triclopyr (SBK Brushwood Killer) and glyphosate (Bramble Killer Ultra) to the freshly-cut ends of the stems, thoroughly wetting them to ground level.

None of this is at all organic,  but given the state of the plot we’ve  inherited there’s no alternative.  We’ll try to be organic later. For now we need a head start !

The fear is those bramble roots: if the chemicals don’t work completely and we dig or rotavate, the cut ends can regenerate from well below soil level. We’re probably going to be fighting these brambles for some time.


Bramble and bonfire

A wonderful Indian summer day with clear blue skies – a great incentive to get on the plot and make headway with the brambles.

After two sessions of two hours we’d made a lot of progress: a long stretch of brambles had been cleared back to the fence, and then burnt on a roaring bonfire.


The plan

Second day on the plot and spent a couple of hours cutting back the bramble.

The plan is to use a strimmer to cut down the grass and low weeds, dose the dock with weedkiller, and cut back the brambles.  Then we can dig over the treated ground, stage by stage, using black plastic that we found buried in the grass as a mulch to weaken the weeds still further.

We’re following the steps outlined on the gardenaction website:

1. Clear the site of the top 90% of weeds and grass.

2. Clear the allotment of any large solid objects.

3. Break up the soil surface by either raking or using a rotovator.

4. Cover an area with the black plastic.

5. Dig to one spade’s depth removing grass and weed roots from the uncovered section.

6. Move the mulch up the allotment for a further distance and repeat steps 4 to 6 until the whole allotment is dug over.

The shed is cleared and tidied. And the path between us and neighbouring plots has been cleared – very important allotment protocol!

First day on the plot

It’s late September and we’ve just taken over a plot on Dingle allotments in south Liverpool.  I have to admit I felt physically sick when we were first shown the plot last week.  The previous occupant has left it in a totally uncultivated state, covered in grass, dock and rampant brambles and bindweed.  Buried under all this is all kinds of rubbish.  There’s a ramshackle shed filled with old timbers and god knows what else.

We’ve had an allotment before – many years ago – but had to give it up under pressure of work and family.  At retirement, R started deep beds in our smallish back garden.  At the same time she put her name down on the allotment waiting list.  That was three years ago; now at last she’s got a plot, though not one where we can just start planting.

We’ll just have to take it one step at a time – that’s what everyone says.  There has been much friendly advice and comforting mention of  The Half-hour Allotment.

Anyway, today was our first day.  This morning was warm and humid with thunderstorms forecast,  though none materialised and we were able to make a promising start by removing a huge amount of rubbish from the site and from the shed.  That proved to be in far better shape than had appeared last week.  It’s fairly watertight and, once the rubbish was cleared, it turned out to be quite sizeable.

These images suggest the scale of the task we’ve taken on.

The larger part of the plot, looking towards the shed

On the right-hand side the fence separating the allotments from neighbouring Shorefields school is overgrown with brambles.

Looking back from the shed over the main part of the plot

The top end of the plot: the bramble jungle beyond the shed

The Half-hour Allotment