Friday, 1 July 2016

Allotment Cardboard & Seedling Guards

Fed up with the endless futility of hacking back the weeds that grow over our allotment in the spring, I decided to try using corrugated cardboard as a biodegradable suppressant. 
Where I work we get large 2m x 3m sheets, which ordinarily just end up in the recycling bins. I covered the cultivated areas at the end of the season last year and weighted them down with bits of timber.
After a Winter and Spring of storms my initial efforts were beginning to look a bit tatty and shredded, but no weeds had grown. So, I laid down a second  layer in April to keep the weeds at bay and hold all the old bits in place. 
This system seems to work really well, nothing had grown beneath the cardboard and it also adds a layer of insulation, which helps to warm up the land. New plants and seedlings can be individually planted directly through the cardboard.
My other recycling initiative employed old pallets, which I had dismantled and cut to size during the Winter. Then with the help of some enthusiastic child labour, the timber was fashioned into frames and then covered in netting to protect young seedlings from birds, mice and cats. 
In the case of our garden based raised beds, these guards can even deflect stray footballs!  On the allotment plot, once the frames are deployed, they also help hold the cardboard in place, and I figure they can be turned upside-down during the Winter months to make them even more effective at this job.
Once the crops at the allotment are pressing against the netting, the plants are tough enough for us to remove the guards and place them over our next new batch of seedlings. This system seems to be working very well so far.

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