Last year I lost my battle with the weeds. That is why, in part, I stopped blogging. I had nothing to show, no merit, and I was ashamed that I had not been able to keep on top of it. Today I am recognising the same feelings, although they are unfounded. I wanted to dig over half of the bed I had left, and that way next week I could focus on the potato bed, and then I could plant my Early potatoes, and so on.
However, it has been raining all morning. And not a light drizzle or shower, a proper, constant downpour. And I was still intent on going. “No”, was my partner’s response. “But I need to dig!” I retorted. The last few times you have gone out in similar weather you have come back to with a touch of hypothermia that only settled by staying under the duvet with a hot water bottle for the rest of the afternoon. You are not going.
My toughts? “The weeds to will come back”. I mean, they will come back anyway, regardless of me going to the plot today. But that was my instant reaction. The plot doesn’t have an beds, it just has an open patch of land, and last year I ended up weeding everywhere. I spent more time digging and weeding that actually enjoying my allotment. So, this year I am determined. I will not be defeated by weeds. Cue the woodchips.
My plot is divided roughly into thirds. One third is cut off by a metal frame used to grow climbing veg. It is where the shed is, and where the compost bins are. As it feels cut off from the rest of the plot, I wanted to do something different with it. And here is what I did.
Weed and level the entire bed
I designated an area that will not change throughout the seasons and planted my strawberry plants and herbs. These used to be in the old house we were renting, but we have now moved into a flat and so have no outdoor space. I weeded the whole area, taking out as much mare’s tail as I could. I then tried to get the soil as level as I could and covered the area in weed suppressant mat. In order to keep the matting down, I used some metal hooks, which so far are working just fine!
Use Physical Barriers
Because I wanted to woodchip the area, I decided I would have to limit the space with some sort of barrier. Now, I know I probably could have done it on the cheap, sourcing simple planks of wood, and obtaining woodchip from a tree surgeon. But I honestly do not have the time. I work 9 to 6 Monday to Friday, and at this moment in time my priority is to make things simple for me in terms of weeding, and this might sometimes involve spending more money than spending time looking for the right materials.
So, I visited my local hardware store and bought some lawn edging. It has a spike on either side, which makes it much easier to put in if you are doing everything on your own. I simply dug a shallow trench, stuck the edging in, and back filled until it felt secure. Be mindful that you’ll have to aim to have every piece of wood at the same level, and so if you dig down too much, you will probably have to back fill a little at a time until you are happy.
Once I was happy with the edging, and the weed suppressant is flush against the barrier, it was time to plant. Much like we have seen on gardening shows, I simply cut a cross in the mat, dig a hole and plant. Sometimes I had to use hooks to secure the flap of material, but that’s just because I am a bit of a neat freak.
Once I was happy with my planting, I scattered wood chip across the whole area. This is also the time where you can put a little more wood chip here and there if the soil is not that level. It makes it easier to walk on. This option is also great because you can keep adding plants to the area. You can see in the photo above that the ground wasn’t that level towards the metal frame, but in my next visit I unpicked it and levelled it a little better.
And that was what my weekends in December and January have consisted of! I have now started work on the other side of the plot. The garlic was put in at the end of November, and I have been concentrating on getting the onion bed clear for when the sets arrive in a few weeks. The potato bed will follow suite.