My allotment buddy and I set off at 1030am with a flask of coffee and some ham sandwiches on Friday to start hand clearing the brambles. We were both giddy with excitement, it would be the first time we had been on the plot on our own, this is it, its up to us to get the plot to a workable level.
We set to work with shears and loppers slowly working our away into the thick thorns, raking it out, pulling out a bath tub, two rotten pallets, a destroyed chest of drawers and countless lumps of masonry. I even found the missing part of my shed, totally useless and crumbling. Marc and I had both agreed everything was too wet to burn but after a chance encounter with another allomenteer we were told to just get on with it and he popped down with some paraffin and some cardboard to get us going. Interestingly i realised that i have been almost waiting for permission to do the things on my land. By not being a professional or experienced grower i have spent a lot of time deciding what i want to do and how i need to do it but always waiting for someone with more experience to tell me it was ok.
After a good 5 hours or so of cutting, raking and burning we called it a day and headed home, fresh faced, achy but incredibly proud of ourselves. The next day i was picked up again in the morning with the intention of meeting a friend with a strimmer later that morning. He turned up despite the forecast and the cold with a box of horror that included some mean looking blades for the strimmer, petrol, a machete and a lot of PPE. We got to have a go at strimming, Marc owes next door for a new water butt after getting a bit excited and i managed to chop a tree down by accident, hope it wasn’t a good one.
We even had time to look at my side and strimmed the twigs and grass knots to flatten it slightly. I can see and “feel” (read, fell down) trenches that have been dug in the past so i hope i can get down to them and see the basis for plot boarders. I have decided that the best course of action will be to plastic cover the majority of the area then double dig one plot so i can start growing at least something! Potatoes will be great start, they apparently reset the soil and the act of them growing will also loosen the soil. Eventually i can work on the entire plot but currently its far too much to do in one go, even with help. I even found a compost bin with some good, rotted compost in it that i added to this morning with household scraps, that felt really, really good.
The strimmer made incredible progress, another fire was lit thanks to a bottle of turps i found in my bathroom and we can finally see the ground and appreciate what we are working with.
Next job will be to finish the strimming, rake out, chop and burn the brambles.