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Warwickshire, United Kingdom Gb

i have just aquired a bit of farm land 20yards by 15 yards all grassed over not much weeds (i hope }i want to turn into ground suitable for growing veg,find digging very slow would i be better hiring a rotavater; any negatives



Only trouble I can see is that if the land is classed as 'agricultural' then you need planning permission to change it to 'horticultural'. Happened round here and the gardener was forced to remove all his stuff and return the land to its designation.

11 Feb, 2010


Tis true Owdboggy and a good point, although I wrote the text below and didn't mention that!

Negatives of rotavating are that any perennials weeds, thistels, docks, marsh marigolds, couch grass, bind weed etc will be broken up and spread across the plot making more work for yourself later.
If the soil is clay then all rotavters do is smear the clay at the depth of the blades, and over time this can form an inpenetrable pan where roots wont be able to break through.

If its is previously been used as farm land for crops etc, then the farmers plow would of done the above and this isn't benificial, the soil may look good on top 6 inches, but be rubbish underneath. A good way is to rotavate it one way, and then another with a deeper 'blades' in the opposite direction.

Or if there are any signs of perennial weeds, then strim it all, wait for regrowth and spray. This may take a few goes and will kill most of it but there will still be a build up of seed with in the soil. Then rotavate it. Perennials will come back esp. Couch grass which is thicker bladed and the roots are thick, white and spreading.
The soil may be poor and require lots of rotted organic matter such as rotted manure etc. which can be mixed in after the turf and soil has been broken up.

Any weeds will start into growth once the weather warms up and some have now. You will also soon see and perenials that are there but these can be sprayed off once the major digging has been done.
And then do a no dig method. Only disturb soil where you are planting. This way once first lot of annual weeds have been hoed off (on a warm sunny day), less and less will germinate. Or just cover any unued soil with weed membrane well weighted down or else it will prob end up stuck in a tree!

Or if there are any signs of perennial weeds, then strim it all, wait for regrowth and spray. This may take a few goes and will kill most of it but there will still be a build up of seed with in the soil.#

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11 Feb, 2010


A rotavator will chop up any weed roots (dandelion, bindweed ) and cause more as each piece will root. Only rotivate to get it into production as this can upset the soil structure if done regularly. What mean people Owdboggy must have around! Surely veg is agricultural? You may also have problems with grubs in the soil if it was pastureland. But these will disappear eventually.

11 Feb, 2010


To you and I, Volunteer, and any other sane person vegetables can be classed as 'agricutural', but not to the powers that be in city hall!
Whilst a rotovator will chop up the roots it sounds as if Guest might do himself an injury digging this over by hand. Guest, how about asking the farmer to put his tractor rotovator or plough over the plot (bottle of whisky) then go along behind and clean it up.

11 Feb, 2010


Don't rotovate. Ask your farmer friends for loads of old spoiled straw, and cover the entire site with a layer several inches deep. Put in the first year's plants into planting holes through this mulch.
The mulch will smother most weed growth, encourage worms which will work the soil for you, and if you keep adding mulch, you will end up with a fantastic soil. After the first year you will be able to draw back the mulch and rake up a fine tilth into which you will be able to directly sow things like carrots, and as they start to grow, you can gradually mulch around them.
Look at the Ruth Stout method of deep mulch gardening on the Internet.
Read this article:

By the way, getting a farmer to part with any land is like getting gold out of the Bank of England! You have done very well to get that far.

Forgot to say, on the planning issue. I served on a planning committee for 12 years. What planners would be concerned about is turning farmland into 'developed' horticultural land, with sheds, greenhouses, lots of tubs and other visually intrusive features. If you are just using the ground to grow vegetables, nobody should have any objection as that would be indistinguishable from agricultural use. Don't expect to be able to erect polytunnels, sheds or any other things though, but a bit of fleece shouldn't be a problem.

11 Feb, 2010

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