the storage area on my plot

I’m just about to embark on tidying up the storage end of my allotment. I can’t say it’s a task I’m looking forward to but it is one of those jobs that will make life easier during the hectic growing season. This part of the plot is the only bit that we left as arranged by the previous tenants. We aren’t allowed sheds on the site so the previous tenants had erected a makeshift wooden fence behind which all my tools and canes etc are stored. This has worked fine over the last year, it’s just by the end of the summer it does get a bit overgrown with weeds. So I need to get in there and tackle the nettles and the stems of an old plum tree that keep pushing through.

The main problem with this part of the plot was the grass path between my planting beds and the storage area. We don’t have a strimmer and it proved very difficult to keep on top of the grass, so much so that after a two week holiday I came back to find that the hosepipe had been swallowed up by the grass. It took a good couple of minutes to extricate the hose. It was at this point I thought that I really needed to do something about the path and the occasional trim with garden shears clearly wasn’t good enough. Of course I never got round to doing anything, I had plenty of other demands on my time.

However, this year one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get rid of the grass. I’m going to skim off the surface layer of grass and put down some weed membrane and cover it with chipped bark like the other paths on the plot. Thinking about doing this has reminded me of the lengths we went to last year to get the woodchip. I had finished laying the weed membrane and putting in wooden planks for the paths by the start of March and then started looking for something to cover the paths. We knew it would be too expensive to buy woodchip from garden centres. I had a look on the internet and found a few sites but even these worked out at £150. I contacted several local tree surgeons who sounded interested in getting rid of some woodchip rather than having to pay to dispose of it. Unfortunately, none of them were keen enough to actually turn up and drop any off. So by April we still had nothing on the membrane but then Wellyman spotted mounds of chipped bark lining the wooded verge of a local dual carriageway that had been left by the local council after tree cutting.

So that Sunday we spent 3 hours collecting 2 tonnes of woodchip and filling green waste bags and stuffing them in the boot. We parked in laybys so we were safe and amusingly we weren’t the only ones doing it. People driving past must have wondered why there was a sudden demand for woodchip. The main problem was that once you’re on this particular stretch of road you have to keep going for 10 miles until you can turn around. We made 6 trips and did over 100 miles!!! We weren’t in the best of moods by the time we’d finished but the paths were covered and for free (fortunately Wellyman has a car with work so he doesn’t have to pay for the fuel).

This year I will have only one path that needs covering but I’m already on the look out for signs of the local council chopping down trees. I’d love to hear if anyone has done something similar, in the quest to save money, create a special look or just in the spirit of recycling. Gardeners are nothing if not resourceful!