Saturday 16th April - my first day on my new plot. In my eagerness to get things underway I arrived far earlier than anyone else and enthusiastically set about clearing the weeds. A small patch at one end appeared to have been tended more recently so I went through this quite rapidly but things got harder as I progressed further up the plot.
Among the weeds to be cleared are brambles, dandelions (some with unfeasibly long tap roots), lots of grass and underground the brittle, spindly white roots of what is locally referred to as 'twitch' (this latter intruder will take some time to eradicate and will need some perseverance). I haven't found any 'mares tail' yet although I noticed this is present on other nearby untended plots.
By the end of the day I'd cleared a patch about 6 x 9 yards wide and found the soil to be much deeper, crumblier and lighter than any of the gardens I'd experienced in the local area.
On my first day I had the opportunity to meet my plot neighbours: John (who is revered by all concerned and has the title 'champion grower' due to local vegetable show results); Barry, a committee member (who it seems has his hand on the tiller following a fairly recent round of committee resignations); and Brush (who explained to me that despite not being fond of eating most vegetables, he enjoys the fun of growing them all the same).
I must say that I could not have had a warmer welcome. All three offered themselves as a source of advice, whilst doing so both Barry and Brush indicated that John was the Master adding that they took their lead from him. Among the advice given to me on the first day included: warnings about digging too fast and the value of doing things a little at a time (my aching back confirms the validity of this advice); to clear and plant as I go along in order to achieve some sense of satisfaction and progress (John said that onions are my priority at the moment, followed by potatoes then the rest can take their turn later); and finally John advised that, having cleared about a quarter of the plot to plant, I should spray the rest with weedkiller. This rather surprised me and seemed to be against my instincts and good intentions. However, it was explained to me that the advised product (Roundup) would be effective at killing the weeds down to the roots and would have no lasting side effects for subsequent planting or wildlife once dried. Along with the advice, came the very kind offer of the loan of a spray bottle (considered much more effective than a watering can) and instruction as to carrying out the job. I've arranged to meet John on Day two to carry out this task as the fine dry weather I'm told is perfect.