Harvesting fresh fruit and vegetables from your allotment or garden is the most affordable and enjoyable way to provide most, if not all, of your 5 a day for you and your family. How to prepare the earth for growing is normally the first big issue you face. Do you use some type of weed suppressant matting or do you use the modern chemicals to clear the plot and keep perennials at bay.
Weeds are a major threat to growing fruits and vegetables as they lower moisture content and nutrient in the earth and reduce available sunlight to the plants you actually want to grow and harvest. As well as that they cut down the space you have left to grow produce and they also provide a home for unwanted pests.
I used to use chemicals until I joined our local allotment society and was eventually converted completely to organic growing and have not used a them on my plots since. Now, once I’ve cleared an area (and as soon as my back has recovered) I fix down a permeable sheet to stop the weeds from resurfacing. I’ve found two types available; a light spun landscape fabric and a more heavy duty woven weed control fabric. I prefer the later as it is more durable under foot and doesn’t need mulch on top of it. I either fix it down with the proper anchor pegs or weigh it down with old bricks if I have some spare.
Currently I’ve got some of the woven ground cover on a plot that I actually used last year on another area, so it’s proved very economical as it was reusable. It’s also better than the black polythene many people use, as the plastic doesn’t let the water through and seems to invite the slugs to gather underneath it!
This sort of control membrane is also ideal if you have raised beds. buy weed uk online Before you fill your raised bed with soil/compost lay the fabric down to cover the base and all four sides in one piece and you’ll be assured that any weeds underground below the frame are not going to grow up into the raised bed.
Finally, if you have or are planning to install a greenhouse or poly tunnel in your garden keep in mind that the woven suppressant membrane is absolutely ideal for these structures. If you are getting a new one then make sure you get the fabric laid down first and place the greenhouse/polytunnel on top of it. It keeps the pesky perennials out but allows you to plant through if you wish to do so – you just cut a small cross where you wish to plant, lift up the membrane, dig the required hole, plant, refill and place the fabric back in place around the plant stem.
If you are treating areas in your garden that will be walked upon or have anything close to heavy use I would not recommend the cheaper fibre made landscape cover. I have had several friends use this and it just breaks up if people constantly walk on it. Being conscious of the environment I would like my fabric to last as long as possible; I’d rather it not break up in the ground under foot. These rolls are considerably cheaper and hence people tend to buy them, but as I said they can end up doing more damage by disintegrating in the soil and possibly damaging plants.