Green Manures and Mulching

At the end of the growing season you may well find that you have areas on your plot which are now clear of crops. If you do not have immediate plans for further cultivation it would not be sensible just to leave the ground bare for the weeds to take over. The traditional idea was to dig the area over - possibly leaving the earth in large lumps for the winter frosts to break down. I find two problems with that approach - too much like hard work and we can’t rely on a frosty period to come along. You may like digging but I prefer the no dig approach - especially when the soil is dry and like concrete..

Remove any tough weeds and then (unless the ground is completely weed-free) cover the area with cardboard, thick layers of newspaper etc ensuring that there are no gaps - the idea is to exclude light to discourage weeds. Then add a thick layer of manure or garden compost. I’m trying horse manure plus some of our free chippings - the more decomposed the better. The layer should be 3 or 4 inches thick. I will then leave it alone until the spring except pulling out any odd weeds that manage to get to the surface. I’m using fairly fresh horse manure - not suitable if you wish to plant into the area in the near future. I’m watering the ground beforehand if it’s very dry - just seems like a good idea.

There is a lot more about no-dig on-line, including helpful videos. Look for Charles Dowding.

 Horse manure is available in sacks in the Shop but I prefer the real thing - available from Kevin if you don’t already have a supply (ask for details).