Cultivate: The Allotment #2

We’ve started covering patches of grass with cardboard to kill the incredibly tufty grass underneath. This is part of our no-dig method, where we’re seeking to keep the structure and life in the soil intact. By putting cardboard (recycled from a local shop!) on top, we’ll kill the grass, but its nutrients will go back into the ground.


Allotment Cardboard


The partially filled (with water) plastic bottles are to weigh the cardboard down.


A composting bin had been left by some previous tenants of our allotment, and we’ve been fastidiously collecting grass cuttings and kitchen leftovers for it! Something (A rat? A rabbit? A small fox?) has been burrowing underneath to steal some of it, but we’re hoping a big pile of grass cuttings will help stop this (but at least someone is enjoying our hard work!).


At first glance, the allotment looked like it was simply covered in grass, but when we started to look more closely, we found that the grass was concealing a lot of things! There was an open growbag – only a small amount of it still protruding from the grass – that we had to dig out. There were several disintegrating plastic pots. There’s a tarpaulin which we’ve still not been able to dig out – it’s under a lot of tangly grass and earth. And there was a deckchair which I only realised was there when I felt something odd underfoot.


Allotment Rubbish


Due to the incredible number of large lumps created by the species of grass that’s taken over the allotment, we’ve decided to make a mulch path down to the bottom in an attempt to stop us falling over and hurting ourselves. Using the loudest wheelbarrow in the world, we’ve started work on this.


Allotment Wheelbarrow


It’s definitely going to take some time though as the piles of mulch provided to the allotment by the council is down a steep hill – pushing the full wheelbarrow back up is a bit taxing.


Allotment Mulch Path



Our mission is for our game CULTIVATE: BEFORE TIME to be real world relevant, using real permaculture principles. What better way to learn about what works and what doesn’t – and how exhausting and satisfying growing things is! – than by actually doing it?


As we go along, we will be posting about our allotment journey. The photo above shows our little patch of land. As you can see, it is a sloping plot. It is 2.8m by 26m, with neighbouring plots either side. Within this space we will grow many things – but there is much to do before growing can begin.

The ground is lumpy and covered in tufty grass – and therefore often slippery in our delightful wet English weather. Our first goal, therefore, is to create a mulch path down one side so that we can cultivate our allotment without injury!

We are going to try out a no-dig method: this involves covering the grass with cardboard to kill it in places. This allows for the soil and its ecosystem of bacteria, worms and bugs to be kept intact, and the grass’s nutrients are reabsorbed by the earth rather than removed. We’ll keep you updated on how it goes!