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To cover plot or not??

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  • To cover plot or not??

    I can't decide if I should cover my allotment with black plastic sheets for winter or not.
    One neighbour tells me it will suffocate worms and dry soil out. Yet my 80+ year old neighbour covered her plot for the first time last winter and raved about warm soil, and few weeds folowing the covers removal.
    Does anyone have a view on this?
    I spend a lot of time weeding in Spring and the thought of less work is tempting!!

  • #2
    It certainly won't dry soil out as the plastic will prevent moisture evaporating. It will however also prevent the moisture getting in. The black plastic will help the soil warm up in the springtime so that planting can be a bit earlier and weeds will be prevented from germinating until the plastic is removed. I would personally use a water permeable membrane though.

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    • #3
      I agree. I use the black fleece designed for weed suppression. It's worked well on my plot which is now pretty much weed free. If you think you're going to use a lot buy it online by the roll it's cheaper. I think I got mine through Amazon.

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      • #4
        I cover mine with manure that has just come from the stable so nice and fresh and has some straw mixed in. Leave it on top and dig it in about February / March. No weed seeds, just dont put it where you are going to plant root veg.
        Gardening ..... begins with daybreak
        and ends with backache

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        • #5
          Originally posted by bobbin View Post
          One neighbour tells me it will suffocate worms
          hahahahahahahahaha !

          No, it won't


          But plastic isn't the best thing to use: lots of us use cardboard as a mulch, and add it to the soil/compost heap after use. Have a browse through the old threads, there're oodles of pages & advice about winter mulches
          Last edited by Two_Sheds; 20-11-2011, 07:32 AM.
          All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Two_Sheds View Post
            hahahahahahahahaha !
            My thoughts exactly

            Originally posted by Aberdeenplotter View Post
            I would personally use a water permeable membrane though.
            Cardboard

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bobbin View Post
              I can't decide if I should cover my allotment with black plastic sheets for winter or not.
              One neighbour tells me it will suffocate worms and dry soil out. Yet my 80+ year old neighbour covered her plot for the first time last winter and raved about warm soil, and few weeds folowing the covers removal.
              Does anyone have a view on this?
              I spend a lot of time weeding in Spring and the thought of less work is tempting!!
              Don`t cover with black plastic.plant green manure`s that will smother out weeds whilst putting some thing back into the ground.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by happy gardener View Post
                Don`t cover with black plastic.plant green manure`s that will smother out weeds whilst putting some thing back into the ground.
                Isn't it a bit late this year?

                Loving my allotment!

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                • #9
                  Agree probably to late, although fodder peas are supposed to be O.K. to sow in November but they don't provide the dense cover that other green manures provide.
                  History teaches us that history teaches us nothing. - Hegel

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                  • #10
                    We're allotment newbies, but we've covered ours with water permeable membrane since spreading manure late October. I uncovered one bed briefly this Sunday to add more manure and partially uncovered another two to plant overwintering veg. The soil is superficially drier, perhaps because the membrane is intended for use under gravel, and may be permeable to standing water, rather than rain. However I wouldn't class it as dry - just drier than the sodden clay that wasn't covered! It was certainly warmer also, and there were lots of active worms, no slugs and only a couple of determined annual weeds hanging on grimly. And a feral potato. Time will tell if it gives us a warm early start with fewer weeds or a dry clay pan next spring!
                    Last edited by Kaiya; 22-11-2011, 10:19 AM.
                    Proud member of the Nutters Club.
                    Life goal: become Barbara Good.

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                    • #11
                      I've covered most of my plot and a half with Farmyard Manure and I'll ture it into the soil in march with my little rotavator.
                      Chris


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                      • #12
                        If you aren't planting anything over the winter (Onions, garlic, shallots) then I'd consider covering it with plastic, but I'd spread a good layer of fine and crumbly (because you won't have the weather breaking it down for you) well rotted manure first if you can. The worms will draw this into the soil for you and save you having to dig it in yourself.
                        My 2014 No Dig Allotment
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                        • #13
                          I've dug over the vacant beds with Farmyard manure as well. My original thinking was to cover with plastic. However, I had also read that the frosts would help break down clods. My 'lotment has clay soil, and having played down there today; the frost does seemed to have helped. I cannot offer a direct correlation of Cause and Effect! The number of big fat wiggly woos that I found....And I did it with the magic spade that Two_Sheds suggested. Other parts of the lotment, where there are currently garlic, shallots and onions, were treated with clay breaker.
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                          • #14
                            THANK you all for your advice. I think permeable membrane is the way to go.
                            And not a suffocated worm in sight!!

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                            • #15
                              covering

                              Originally posted by bobbin View Post
                              I can't decide if I should cover my allotment with black plastic sheets for winter or not.
                              One neighbour tells me it will suffocate worms and dry soil out. Yet my 80+ year old neighbour covered her plot for the first time last winter and raved about warm soil, and few weeds folowing the covers removal.
                              Does anyone have a view on this?
                              I spend a lot of time weeding in Spring and the thought of less work is tempting!!
                              I have covered my Kitchen garden in agricultural plastic for almost a year now, i moved here 12 months ago (to Cornwall) and the plot was totally aver grown , i cut out as much weed back as i could and decided to cover it all as i was going to place raised beds on it, the plastic was pegged and had a layer of cardboard under it as well (packing boxes from move) the whole site has never been dry and has always retained too much water under cover, its slippery and wet for all the year and now the beds are constructed I may remove all due to water levels ,but unsure at present but have never had problem of being too dry if anything the opposite happened , even in the summer. the water could not evaporate away !

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