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It's all been downhill since Jethro Tull

The agriculturalist and not the prog rock band, that is.

We have an allotment, the one in the NW corner of this map.

Many things about it are good, principally the price (£3.58 per annum) and the location (our house is four houses away due west). What's less good was the state when we assumed the lease: thigh-deep in brambles. We've been gradually clearing them - currently about 20% done - but what's clear is that the previous leaseholders didn't bother clearing the brambles by hand, preferring to chop them up with a rotorvator. I'm pulling out about a dozen large roots the thickness of my thumb per square metre, mostly rooted about 50cm down, and many small fragments around 15cm long.

This could be a long struggle. Suggestions welcome.

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See if you know someone unemployed who would like a earn a few quid helping you out.

Here's what the Royal HOrticultural Society say http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/Profile.aspx?pid=256 Sounds like good advice.

Rotavators are a total pain. They can make couch grass massively worse, as well as brambles.

I'd say the best solution is to spray the whole lot as per RHS advice (it's likely to take a couple of weeks for the weedkiller to do its job), but keep working on the front line while it's taking effect.

Any bit you clear, do so totally and then plant with what you want. Don't wait to clear the whole lot before you start planting. That way lies madness.

If necessary, accept you won't clear it all this year. As soon as you accept that, you'll stop feeling guilty/pressured. Set yourself a target of clearing and planting half the plot this year. Weeding after planting will keep you busy enough and if you get demoralised trying to clear brambles as well, you'll just give up totally.

I'm an organic gardener, but I also accept the practical necessity of using weedkiller on rare specific occasions. I think clearing your plot initially is a valid use.

Thanks - glyphosphate it will be.

RHS say the brushwood killer is even more effective than glyphosphate, though it does take 6 weeks to break down in the soil. Glyphosphate is very good in terms of breakdown - far better than many organic products.

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