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Thread: Too late for this year?

  1. #1
    mrmauy is offline Seedling
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    Default Too late for this year?

    Morning Grapes, as you may have noticed this is my first year with an allotment and I am starting to tame it into shape. Having read many threads and looking at the weed cover on my plot am I too late to try going down the no dig route?

    I've got a petrol brush cutter so when the rain finally stops I can take everything off at ground level and have loads of cardboard boxes I can put down as a cover. I don't really have any compost or well rotted manure (anyone in the Coventry area know a good source?) Do I need something like this to put over the cardboard or could I rake up the weed growth and put that on top?

    Can I make holes in the cardboard to plant through or would that be a bad idea and let the weeds come back?

    Also, sorry about all the questions, is a roof vent a requirement on a greenhouse? The one I have inherited doesn't have anything there, just a hole that I was going to replace with polycarb (is mixing glass and polycarb ok or do I need to stick with the glass?) Any ideas how to DIY a vent if it's needed?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Snoop Puss's Avatar
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    I'm not a no-digger (at the moment), so I'm not the ideal person to answer, but to set the ball in motion this is what I reckon.

    For no-digging to work well, you need a lot of organic matter to pile on top of your cardboard. Even a very thick layer of hay would do at a pinch. But given the circumstances, if I were in your position, this is what I'd do if I couldn't source a load of organic material and didn't want or couldn't afford weed membrane:

    Work out how much I can dig reasonably between now and last frost and then cover the rest. Don't over-estimate how much you can do, as it will just be disheartening. Remember, it doesn't all have to be dug straight away. Some plants will not be going in till May and others like autumn brassicas will not go in till after that.

    Work out your rotation plan and arrange it so that you plant in your first dug beds those plants that are least likely to grow well through cardboard. I'm thinking of onions for example, as they don't spread much and don't like being swamped by weeds.

    Plant through cardboard if you must. But the cardboard will eventually rot and so you will have to deal with the weeds at some point. Get yourself a good hoe to make it easier for you.

    Keep digging and planting as you go. Just make sure you don't let any weeds set seed in any of your beds... Any green matter that you dig in, including weeds but no seeds, is good for the soil as it's more organic matter that will eventually rot.

    Good luck.
    Note to self: Getting too old not to have a life.

  3. #3
    veggiechicken's Avatar
    veggiechicken is offline Warning!! Contains Nuts
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    My question, as always, is what weeds are they? Are you sure they're weeds and not edibles coming back to life?
    If they're perennial weeds like dock, dig them out first. If they have seed heads remove them before you cut them down. Otherwise, you're just spreading the problem.
    Clear a bit at a time and cover that with cardboard, weighted down with anything heavy - even bottles of water. The cardboard will soften and break down in the rain, then you can plant through it if you want.
    If you don't have compost/manure, then you can't use it!! You have to work with what you have. Rome wasn't built in a day, neither was Charles Dowding's No dig garden.
    bario1, rary and Chestnut like this.
    Make 2019 the Year of Random Seed sowing
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  4. #4
    mrmauy is offline Seedling
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    Thanks VC and Snoop. The weeds are mainly grasses with a few brambles (those will be dug out). I've got a reasonable area clear already so that I can get the first early potatoes in the ground, I'd hoped to be able to get a lot more done but the constant rain recently has left the clay based soil very heavy and awkward to work with. The plot also has a lot of rubbish (general household waste along with broken glass) that I need to deal with before I can let the kids join me.

    I know i could always buy some compost, but I'm loathe to do that unless I have to.

  5. #5
    veggiechicken's Avatar
    veggiechicken is offline Warning!! Contains Nuts
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    is anything delivered to the site - council green waste, woodchip..........
    Make 2019 the Year of Random Seed sowing
    All we are saying is..........Give seeds a chance.
    @realveggiechicken

  6. #6
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    bario1 is offline Work in progress...
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    Might be an idea to dig a small patch to see what condition your soil is in. If it's soggy, compact and full of weed roots, then no amount of mulch over the top is going to 'condition' it (or not for many years at least). What the no-dig proponents tend to keep quiet about is that they double dug their entire plots before they started the process!
    He-Pep!

  7. #7
    mrmauy is offline Seedling
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    The bit that I've dug over - before this terrible weather arrived - was quite a good texture, akin to a slightly soggy grow bag, going down a spades depth.

    I'm told the plot had been well worked up until 3 years ago, so hopeful that the rest of the soil is in a similar condition. If a good digging is needed before going the no-dig route then that's what I'll do, will just mean the young'uns have to wait a while before they can join me.

    We get nothing delivered by the council VC but the site notice board advertises a local tree surgeon who will deliver a load of chip (about a tonne as I understand it due to the delicate bridge over the brook on site) for "fuel"
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  8. #8
    Snoop Puss's Avatar
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    ^You could be in luck. If it's decent down to a spade's depth and you can manage to dig it and remove weeds, you might have a great year with decent soil that has had a bit of rest. Just add as much organic matter as you can, as and when, as a mulch round your plants this year and add muck and any compost you make this year next year.
    veggiechicken and nickdub like this.
    Note to self: Getting too old not to have a life.

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