Keeping on top of weed growth is something that’s easier said than done during the festive period.
There’s not many sleeps until Christmas now, and on average, time at the allotment is nearing a visit every 10 to 14 days or so – maybe less with the weather being so awful.
This makes the thought of weeds growing and taking over in my absence even more prominent. Historically, I’ve called this Allotment Withdrawal.
This year, I’ve kept non-growing areas covered to help keep weed growth at bay. Restricting the light to the weeds is crucial in keeping them in check – and it works.
I’ve done this with my raspberries and it’s paid off pretty well so far. Touch wood, this has without a doubt given me an advantage when it comes to keeping on top of the weeds.
At the moment, I’m utilising a variety of ways to keep the beds covered, so I thought I’d go over what I’m doing while I’m not there.
At the back of the plot, I have two or three giant oak trees which shed generous amounts of leaves during the autumn and winter.
I tend to fill the tree boxes with these leaves and I also cover the compost bins to try and reduce weed growth, through the lack of light.
My compost bins are quite prone to growing weeds, so hopefully this will reduce, if not put a stop to that. Leaf mould is also very good compost material to have.
Plastic sheeting or carpet if you can get hold of it is great because you can roll it up and reuse it time after time.
In this weather, it’s best to weigh down that sheeting as much as you can. The storms, rain and wind will upheave everything before you know it.
If you find that sheeting is hard to come by, then keep hold of empty compost bags to lay down instead – it can work just as well.
Plastic sheeting and leaf mulch
On first glance, this bed just looks like it’s got plastic sheeting on top, but underneath that there’s about five or six wheelbarrow loads of leaves from the oak trees.
This is a little bit of an experiment I’m having and I’m seeing how and if the leaves will decompose and break down under the sheeting.
This particular bed will be for a yet to be decided type of fruit in the spring/summer months.
One of the great things about Christmas is that cardboard is in easy supply and in abundance.
It’s widely used by no-diggers up and down the country to keep beds covered and you can consider this my first taste of no dig gardening.
One thing to remember if you’re using cardboard is to remove any sticky tape holding the boxes together, so that the plastic doesn’t make it into your beds.
I’ve used a mixture of big pieces to cover the middle of the ground and small pieces of cardboard to cover as much of the edges as I can.
After I laid the cardboard and weighed it down, I also watered it generously to make it even heavier and less likely to blow away.
Chances are I will just dump material from the compost bin on top of the cardboard in the spring.
I was at one of many Christmas gatherings and somebody asked me, “are you putting the plot to bed?” and this is exactly how all of this feels 🙂 .
How do you put your plot to bed? I’d love to read your suggestions below.