Rotovators are a NIGHTMARE! They chop all the soil up so it LOOKS fluffy, which doesn't actually serve any purpose. Then all the weed seeds that have been brought up by the digging start to sprout, and all your couch grass, bindweed, dandelions etc which have been chopped into little bits start growing a whole new plant from each little tiny piece... DON'T DO IT!!!I cleared most of my jungle-like plot by covering large parts at a time for one whole season. A layer of cardboard excludes light really well, then a layer of plastic e.g. bin liners to speed things up by excluding water, then something heavy on top to weigh it all down e.g. old carpet.Take it all off in late Autumn and dig something organic into the soil like manure, and off you go!
Actually I'm going to combine parts of this plan. The whole plan for the scary weedy jungle is as follows:
1. Strim all weeds to ground level
3. Plant 17 pumpkin, courgette and squash seedlings which we have been bringing on at home
4. Plant tall things such as sweetcorn and sunflowers amongst the pumpkins and squash
The thick broad leaves of the pumpkins will (with any luck) smother the ground and suppress any weeds that try to come up after rotavating. Potatoes might also work but it's a big area and we'd end up with a heck of a lot of spuds. I think I can barter pumpkins more easily than spuds. I'll take the courgettes we want to eat and the ones we don't want can rot on the vine for all I care.
The size of the area is what deters us from the cardboard and old carpet method. We really couldn't get enough cardboard and carpet to do it. In any case, I've found the same thing with that as you found with rotavating - the really bad weeds such as ground elder and couch grass just lie dormant under the carpet and they pop up again when you take it off, even after a whole year. There's no way to get out of forking all the roots up, but if we chop them into tiny pieces with a rotavator we'll put them back long enough to get our pumpkins established, backed up by daily hoeing.
After the first frost when the squash plants all deflate like popped balloons we will fork the area over and remove any remaining weed roots. Then if we can get it we'll cover the whole area with as much manure as we can - at least a few inches. Or we might go the green manure route, although Ed's not a fan of that.
That's our jungle attack plan. Phase one starts tomorrow.