Official warning

Tim Young - 20 May 2011

I received a short email the other day from our allotment site rep:

“The recent site inspection raised concern about the amount of grass on your plot. Can you please do something about it in the next couple of weeks so as to avoid you getting an official warning”.


My first reaction was one of slight indignation – I think (hope?) the inspectors are referring to a two metre or so strip right at the back of the plot that we haven’t got round to doing anything with yet. And in my mind I was rather romantically styling this as a ‘wildlife corridor’ for bees and butterflies and such like. However, having missed a couple of weekends onsite for various reasons, I got to the plot on Wednesday night and saw an alternative point of view – the grass is about four foot high, and already seeding. Whoops. 

Something will have to be done.

Of course, what this makes me realise is just how hard it is to get a plot up and running, especially when you’re trying to be organic. The children are just too young to enjoy long stints of digging at the weekend (they end up fighting over the spades), so we’re having to fit in a couple of hours here, and a couple of hours there. In the words of my wife the other day ‘this is becoming the most stressful thing I’ve ever done’.

For now we will persevere though. As well as the four foot elephant grass, Wednesday night revealed that our broad beans are flowering, our spuds are coming up, garlic is poking through, and all but one of the calabrese seedlings I transplanted a couple of weeks ago survived the journey (though of course, this means we need to build some kind of decent netting solution to protect from birds). And as my colleague Sam pointed out, the food still grows through it if you treat it right, despite the weeds. Fingers crossed she's right.

Tim is editor of the Soil Association's Living Earth magazine, and has written on food, health and consumer issues for the last ten years. When not at work Tim is normally being run ragged by his two young sons. In 2009 Tim started trying to grow vegetables, and last year he took on an allotment. Two years later he is still trying to grow vegetables, and is very hopeful that one day soon he will have some success.


Kris Duzniak
03 October 2011 23:51

Sir,Can you confirm that compost produced in a compost bin constructed from Tanalised wood is safe to use in the production of vegetables for human consumption?Regards Kris Duzniak

Tim Young
26 May 2011 15:20

Hi Phil, thanks for the question. I'm not sure I'm the quite the right person to ask, as I've no direct experience of this myself. That said, in our organic standards, while we prohibit the use of tanalised wood chip in compost, we wouldn't stop people using the timber itself in building or structures - so you could quite happily have a raised bed made from tanalised timber on an organic farm. I hope that's helpful!

Phil Gallagher
24 May 2011 12:37

Hi Tim, I'm just about to construct some raised beds from tanalised timber. However a friend has warned me about potential leaching of chemicals into the soil. What would you advise please? Many thanks Phil

Post a comment

Enter the code shown above in the box below
  Post Comment

Comments will be moderated prior to publication. Abusive, hateful or off-topic comments will be deleted.

Join to help us stop the use of neonicotinoids and save our living landscapes

Donate to help us create healthy farmland and countryside without pesticides

Watch us on YouTubeFind us on flickr

Our bloggers