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  • #16
    I've been experimenting with this! Plastic is ok, I've got permanent crops like raspberries and soft fruit bushes planted through it. Last year I covered one bed with cardboard and seaweed (manure would be great but the beach is easier for me than the stables!) and noticed a great difference in terms of fewer weeds. Thumbs up to both, I say!
    That said, the plastic is not a great look. I'm getting some woodchip delivered from a friendly tree surgeon to de-ugly it a bit..
    Last edited by Finley; 16-11-2017, 09:57 PM.

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    • #17
      I'm voting for cardboard with manure on top, it'll suppress the weeds for the winter and most of the spring then it will have decomposed and Improved your soil,even if it's still there come planting time you can plant straight through with no effort
      don't be afraid to innovate and try new things
      remember.........only the dead fish go with the flow

      Another certified member of the Nutters club

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Lazgaot View Post
        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.
        Andrew Iv'e just been looking on your blog and I was surprised and pleased to see you have edible mushrooms growing (we call them blue stalks or blewits in Derbyshire)amongst your onions !
        atb Dal

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        • #19
          I won't be using plastic to cover mine, but I have been researching ways to make the most of my small space and will be covering my allotment over with layers of newspaper, then mulch, then composted manure, then more mulch. The people who've recommended this method to me say it's supposed to do the same job of warming the soil and preventing weeds, but is breathable, can be left on permanently as the layers all just rot down over time, and will leach fertile nutrients into the soil every time it rains.

          Only issue is I need to re-do the compost-mulch layer every year or two, and need to be really careful when digging holes for planting that I pull away the layers and put them back over without mixing them up too much, which will take a bit of care. (I'll have to grow my spuds in bins rather than in the ground!)

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          • #20
            My impression is that by covering the soil what you gain in weed suppression you more than lose in snail and slug protection from being eaten by the birds. Easier to hoe every two months.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by planetologist View Post
              My impression is that by covering the soil what you gain in weed suppression you more than lose in snail and slug protection from being eaten by the birds. Easier to hoe every two months.
              Molluscs under the plastic don't bother me. When I lift it I'm ready with my big boots to squish them

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Newt View Post
                Only issue is I need to re-do the compost-mulch layer every year or two, and need to be really careful when digging holes for planting that I pull away the layers and put them back over without mixing them up too much, which will take a bit of care. (I'll have to grow my spuds in bins rather than in the ground!)
                Can I ask why you need to be so careful? It's a real question, not sarcastic, by the way. It's not easy to make this plain in writing on the Web!

                By the spring, surely the mulch will have rotted down enough for you to be able to plant without worrying too much? And I'd have thought spuds would love it.

                Is there something I'm missing?
                Living in north-east Spain, where the sun is too hot, the rain too torrential, the hail too big, the wind too windy and the snow too deep.

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                • #23
                  What will you be using as "mulch" newt??
                  You must have a lot of it to be able to cover your plot with it twice.

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                  • #24
                    Seems a bit of a faff.

                    Can see the paper to supress the weeks and the 1st (bottom) Layer of Mulch to hold paper in place, but mulch can be almost any bio-degradable including compost, so layers 3 and 4 don't make sense at this time of year. But I'm just a germinator

                    Compost in spring, for sowing medium and then mulch to retain moisture late spring/summer would also make sense.

                    - See that I'm a seedling
                    Last edited by 4Shoes; 04-12-2017, 11:36 AM. Reason: seedling comment

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Snoop Puss View Post
                      Can I ask why you need to be so careful? It's a real question, not sarcastic, by the way. It's not easy to make this plain in writing on the Web!

                      By the spring, surely the mulch will have rotted down enough for you to be able to plant without worrying too much? And I'd have thought spuds would love it.

                      Is there something I'm missing?
                      The main reason is that this method is designed to be a no-dig one, with weeding almost wiped out as a task. The people I've been following on youtube and other parts of the internet who use this method said that when the soil/mulch gets mixed up you end up with weeds growing up through, but if you're more careful about pushing the layers about then the mulch keeps the weeds down for longer.

                      Although now you mention it, I'm not sure that'd be much of a problem over the longterm. If I'm going to be doing another mulch layer at the end of next year, I guess it wouldn't matter if this year's rotted-down layers got mixed up during harvesting!

                      Originally posted by veggiechicken View Post
                      What will you be using as "mulch" newt??
                      You must have a lot of it to be able to cover your plot with it twice.
                      Good question! That's exactly the issue I'm working on right now. Apparently woodchip is the best for this method but it is so expensive. I'm thinking straw bale for this year, and then hopefully I'll have had time to gradually build up a supply of something better for next year.

                      Honestly, I've never tried this method before so who knows how it'll actually turn out - this is just what I've read/seen from others who've done it. The MIL recommended I give it a go, and I daren't tell her she's wrong until I've tried it!
                      Last edited by Newt; 04-12-2017, 12:57 PM.

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                      • #26
                        What is your underlying soil like Newt? Thick organic mulches will rot down into lovely soil over time, but if they're sat on poor/compacted/boggy soil, they won't do anything to help your plants in the first season. Also, adding huge amounts of uncomposted material can cause issues... straw takes ages to rot down and it's slimy and nasty to work with in the meantime... woodchip also takes a few seasons to rot, and in my opinion makes the underlying soil very acidic.
                        I'm not trying to discourage you, I just think mulching the entire plot in one go might cause you headaches!
                        He-Pep!

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                        • #27
                          I had great success covering the whole plot with weed suppressant fabric and just planting through it where possible and cutting the fabric and rolling back sections where i needed to plant large areas and earth up spuds, etc.

                          Worked a treat for me and made the plot so much more manageable! You could cover part with fabric and sort out a smaller area at a time to make it easier!

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