Keeping stuff watered – mulch

Keeping stuff watered.

Another dry spring followed by summer rain has led us to plan for this being the norm.

Every drop is precious!

Although everything is growing well now, there are lots of gaps where early sowings failed to thrive, or failed to sprout at all. As ours is a community allotment where we garden as a group only once a week, watering can be a problem;  people do pop along to water during the week when they can, but another issue for us is that no hosepipes are allowed on our site,  so all the water we use has to be carried some distance in a watering can. On our plot,  keeping the high raised beds watered is a problem due to water loss through evaporation, and on the new plot the soil is the problem; a clayey loam, it bakes so hard in the dry weather that we can’t get the fork in to dig it, and the amount of watering we can do by hand makes little difference to the soil condition. We needed a cleverer solution.

Several members of our group were interested in no-dig gardening, and we thought this would be worth a punt, especially as most of the group find heavy digging difficult. so, working on the new plot, the no-dig allotment is evolving thus:

  •  As we get ready to plant up a bed we cut down any tall weeds, and dig them out if we can.
  • Then we cover the whole area in opened-out corrugated cardboard boxes. This works best if the soil is moist, so we’ll be doing more of the allotment this autumn.
  • Then we damp down the boxes
  • Then we cover all the cardboard up with compost from the bin.
  • We plant up by clearing a bit of the compost, cutting a hole through the cardboard, digging a little hole, popping in the plant , then watering into the planting area, and re-covering the cardboard with the compost.
Using compost from the bin is great, because you get a gratifyingly tidy-looking plot, plus the compost keeps the cardboard cool and moist, and the worms will eventually do the digging for you, and integrate the cardboard and the compost into the soil. If you want to try this, but don’t have enough compost yet, you could use the cardboard under mulch material, grass clippings, or straw- the cardboard will help to suppress the weeds and keep the soil cool and moist, plus the worms will get much more active in the upper layers of the soil.

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