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The best digging tools for the new allotmenteer

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I have been researching which is the best method and tools for taming an overgrown allotment plot, first after killing the weeds I was going to take a spade and attempt to dig the plot over removing roots as I go and leaving the ground rough dug for the winter rain frost and snow to break it up. The question is which spade to choose, these can range in price from a few pounds to around the £35 mark. Obviously the more money that you pay the better tool you would hope to buy but what is a medium price option, I have seen some spear and Jackson tools in a well known catalogue shop going for £17 and receiving on the whole rave reviews.
The second option that I am considering is to fork the plot over while the ground is still relatively dry remove weed roots and then either dig the plot in the conventional way or hire a rotavator, although digging the conventional way whereby the soil is turned completely upside down so that any weed seeds are deposited 9 inches below the surface seems to be a better option than rotavating the soil and the weed seeds getting randomly spread around.
I also looked at forgetting the spade, fork, and rotavator all together and using a mattock, which is supposed to be quicker and easier than digging but on watching a film on the subject it looked to only cultivate the soil to about 3 or 4 inches deep.
Anyone got any suggestions regarding methods and tools for the job?
Many regards.
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Comments

  • Leif
    Leif Posts: 3,727 Forumite
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    A friend uses a mattock for getting out large roots. She and her husband have a house on a 2/3 acre plot. They have cultivated an allotment's worth of land. I cannot use a spade on my land, at least not until I have removed the stones and broken the soil up, using a fork. Even then, it can take several minutes to get down a forks depth.

    Argos have some good prices for tools. Fred's Shed recommends Bulldog tools. They look rough, but are supposedly tough. I do not recommend forks with wooden handles, they break too easily. It might be alright if only the shaft is wood. My next fork will probably be a bulldog, with ordinary steel tines. Then again, my soil can be hard, with lots of flints, often up to 6" and larger. Perhaps I have to resign myself to keeping fork manufacturers in work.
    Warning: This forum may contain nuts.
  • [Deleted User]
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    an azada from
    http://get-digging.co.uk/

    I could not have cleared my allotment without one. Since then I have bought the smaller hand tools and they are simply superb to use
  • wellused
    wellused Posts: 1,678 Forumite
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    Kittie I saw a film clip of someone using one of these and the whole operation looked to be very random both in the depth of cultivation and in the movement of material, did you use it to remove stones, weed roots and the like or for actually digging the plot over? Thanks!
  • Lotus-eater
    Lotus-eater Posts: 10,789 Forumite
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    I have one of those azadas and it's good for breaking up difficult soil, if you get the rhythm right it's better for your back and alot quicker than a spade or fork.

    I don't use spades, I prefer forks (my ground just isn't good enough for a spade, maybe in a few years), it has to be Bulldog, I've broken everything else I've used, including S&J, which IMO are junk. (overpriced junk)
    Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
  • Yorkie1
    Yorkie1 Posts: 11,575 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
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    Whichever spade you decide to get, look for a 'lip' at the top of the spade bit, so that you have a slightly wider tread to press your foot down on when pushing the spade into the soil. Much easier on the foot.
  • AnGee
    AnGee Posts: 89 Forumite
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    When I first got my allotment I used an azada to remove the grass and weeds and then dug over with a spade. The azada was quick and easy to use but I didn't feel I could dig deeply or precisely enough to use it alone.
  • Sally_A
    Sally_A Posts: 2,266 Forumite
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    Spend more on a fork than a spade, I'm always breaking the tines off mine, I'm on clay (not stony). I always tend to go for the deals for the pair, so now have a shed with 5 spades and only one fork.

    My latest good buy was Screwfix, I think it was a spade/fork combo with metal handles for around the £20 mark - Spear & Jackson.

    A strimmer is good if you can afford one, takes the tops off the plants before the seed heads form.
  • wellused
    wellused Posts: 1,678 Forumite
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    Been looking online for spades and forks and although there seems to be plenty of choice at many differing price points the question still remained what's the quality like? I had noticed the good reviews that the Bulldog brand has received so I have been to a few garden centres to have a look. I noticed a manufacturer that I hadn't heard of before Burgon and Ball and thought that their fork an spade looked well made and much lighter than many other models, the price of £39.99 put me off somewhat. Another garden centre had a Bulldog brand spade which looked very sturdy if not a little agricultural in appearance and at around £60 was too expensive for me to consider. I was seriously considering the Burgon and Ball items at £39.99 each when I visited the last garden centre and noticed Burgon and Ball digging fork and Spade reduced to £24.99 each. So I have purchased them not having heard of them before this afternoon but they do look well made light and with a 10 year guarantee.
  • cyclonebri1
    cyclonebri1 Posts: 12,827 Forumite
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    wellused wrote: »
    I have been researching which is the best method and tools for taming an overgrown allotment plot, first after killing the weeds I was going to take a spade and attempt to dig the plot over removing roots as I go and leaving the ground rough dug for the winter rain frost and snow to break it up. The question is which spade to choose, these can range in price from a few pounds to around the £35 mark. Obviously the more money that you pay the better tool you would hope to buy but what is a medium price option, I have seen some spear and Jackson tools in a well known catalogue shop going for £17 and receiving on the whole rave reviews.
    The second option that I am considering is to fork the plot over while the ground is still relatively dry remove weed roots and then either dig the plot in the conventional way or hire a rotavator, although digging the conventional way whereby the soil is turned completely upside down so that any weed seeds are deposited 9 inches below the surface seems to be a better option than rotavating the soil and the weed seeds getting randomly spread around.
    I also looked at forgetting the spade, fork, and rotavator all together and using a mattock, which is supposed to be quicker and easier than digging but on watching a film on the subject it looked to only cultivate the soil to about 3 or 4 inches deep.
    Anyone got any suggestions regarding methods and tools for the job?
    Many regards.

    Do your self a favour and buy a basic rotavator. Contensious, maybe but as you get older it's a lifesaver.

    Spades??

    Stainless steel should be ideal, but I have broke 2 over the last 4 years, if you are really going to work them then maybe a carbon steel alternative would be more suitable.

    PS My old Dad did the weeds with a flame thrower type thing, might be worth a try. Parafin back then but I guess propane now, no residuals there;)
    I like the thanks button, but ,please, an I agree button.

    Will the grammar and spelling police respect I do make grammatical errors, and have carp spelling, no need to remind me.;)

    Always expect the unexpected:eek:and then you won't be dissapointed
  • wellused
    wellused Posts: 1,678 Forumite
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    I've been warned off rotavating ground which has been left for perennial weeds to get a foothold in as all the rotavator does is to cut the roots up and spread the problem throughout the plot, the allotment club does tool hire, I expect that they own a rotavator if I ever need to hire one.
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