Weed Control Fabric on my new plot - weighing up pros vs cons.

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sowitgrowit

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Good afternoon all.

I had been reading up after getting my new allotment regarding weed control fabric (the only serious problem I've ecountered is marestail so far, which seems to be everywhere; there are plenty of other weeds but not in such abundance).  In particular I was weighing up the pros and cons of using the stuff vs. traditional weed clearance, regular hoeing etc. (I don't want to use lots of weedkillers) - I decided in the end not to purchase the fabric as the cost wouldn't really be justified given that what I intend to grow would hopefully out-muscle the weeds.

HOWEVER(!) I have recently been given two almost full rolls of black control fabric (the type that actually feels like permeable fabric, rather than the woven plastic stuff that frays).

So, now I'm in a quandry; I had decided that I wouldn't bother buying the fabric as my bare earth is currently earmarked for squash, courgette, densely-sown dwarf beans and sweetcorn - if these all grow as I hope would weed suppression even be a requirement?  Planting through the fabric with dwarf beans every few inches will surely ruin the fabric for future use, and would the relatively closely-spaced plants stop much of the germination of weeds anyway? Same question for squash too, I suppose, as they obviously have a lot of growth which could smother any nasty weeds.

The above may be a little incoherent (apologies it it is!) - I'm thinking aloud really - I decided not to buy the fabric but I've now got some for free; would you use it anyway, just because it's available for nothing and will cut down on the workload?
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Yorkie

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I have fairly heavy-duty woven stuff which doesn't fray and I use it as paths - stops the couch grass taking over.
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days all attack me at once...

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Donnay

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If also used in between my raised beds to make paths and it's worked great!

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snowdrops

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Yes I would. You need to take note of the appropriate spacings for each of your crops, if you plant to closely your plants will not grow/crop so well. Also if your plot has been neglected in the past when you cultivate the soil you will get lot & lots of seeds germinating. Also the membrane can help to conserve moisture so cut down on watering. Lots of pro's in my opinion.
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sowitgrowit

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Thanks for the input so far folks. I think I will use it; I'll wait for the weather to clear and fork the whole plot first as it may be a little compacted from me doing other jobs and weeding/walking on it when maybe I shouldn't.

I was thinking of wide spacing and mulching as we don't have a tap on site (though there is a river close by) so I was hoping to avoid too much watering.

If you plant through how do you go with crop rotating? Move the fabric or just cut more holes? I don't want it to end up in ribbons!

I was planning to roll it out and overlap two widths to make a bed, then a small path uncovered, and repeat this across the plot. Is this a good way to go, or should I cover as much ground as I can and just walk on it (I don't think its the especially heavy duty sort)?

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compostqueen

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I used the heavy duty stuff and secured it to stop it lifting and having to chase it over the fields  :D    You don't want to walk on it!!!!!  Keep off it so you don't compact it  I rigged up canes with hazard tape so I wouldn't  :)  Bear in mind that it takes a long time for the surface weeds to die and then there's the ones under the soil. So don't be in a hurry to see the back of them.  Still, it will keep them at bay as you make your first and subsequent beds, and that's the main thing. 

You can't expect to do everything at once and having the mulch down gives you peace of mind that at least the weeds are not getting any worse, and that by the time you get to the end of the plot, the weeds will be giving up the ghost.  It even works on brambles which are a pig to dig up. I left them under the sheet mulch and they came out easily once they'd been deprived of light.  It doesn't happen over night though

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sowitgrowit

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No cons then, as far as everyone is concerned?

As I mentioned above, this weekend I will fork over the top foot or so of the areas I will cover and make 6" wide (approx) areas to plant with walkways between.
 

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compostqueen

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You don't need to make hard and fast decisions before you start. There will be prevailing circumstances and unforeseens so you might just have to go with the flow sorta thing.  Whatever happens, just have fun. It's not a race so enjoy it. Your plot will still be there tomorrow.  Stand back periodically, with a cuppa, take stock, and see how it's going  :)

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sowitgrowit

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You don't need to make hard and fast decisions before you start. There will be prevailing circumstances and unforeseens so you might just have to go with the flow sorta thing.  Whatever happens, just have fun. It's not a race so enjoy it. Your plot will still be there tomorrow.  Stand back periodically, with a cuppa, take stock, and see how it's going  :)

I like the sound of that, but at the moment nothing is "going" really! I have my spuds in and earthed up, a few beds with seeds sown and onion sets, and the middle 2/3rds of the plot is bare earth since I cleared it (with small weeds poking through).

Not a massive job to keep on top of it but I may take the chance whilst it's empty to cover some of it over if there aren't many down sides to it.

Having fun is definitely at the top of the agenda at the moment, I'm loving it!

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Yana

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I've used the black fabric for a couple of years for French beans, runner beans and brassicas. I've used it as a base for a path over which I put old carpet tiles (rubber backed so won't rot), and itmsimbril. Cuts down weeding no end. All I do at the end of the season is remove it, dig in manure or compost, and cover again for the winter. Seems to work well for me.
I have my own cement mixer and not afraid to use it!!

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sowitgrowit

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Hopefully it will last well over a few seasons, that's encouraging.  If I cut 'x' number of holes for sweetcorn, courgettes, etc, and next season want beans there I didn't want to have to cut loads more holes too and end up with a tattered cover that lets the weeds through anyway.

If it is pretty tough I can presumably roll it up, dig in some good stuff, then uroll it in the new position to allow for a basic crop rotation.

I've read also that the black plastic that people use ruins soil and encourages slugs to congregate - do you have the same trouble with the permeable soft fabric? I am trying to be organic but do have some blue pellets - would it be worth scattering them?

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smud6ie

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It will be intresting to see how you get on controlling mares tail,My Son did an area for a customer using the best WCF with 4 inches of bark on top and the mares tail had come through in quite a few places inside a year.
smud6ie

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sowitgrowit

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It will be intresting to see how you get on controlling mares tail,My Son did an area for a customer using the best WCF with 4 inches of bark on top and the mares tail had come through in quite a few places inside a year.
smud6ie

 :blink:  Crikey. I'm hoeing/pulling it out at the moment.  Luckily (for me) it seems most abundant on an adjacent plot (under a tree so probably not cultivated that much) and is only invading the S-West corner of my plot.  That area will stay uncovered (already filled it with onion sets etc when I finally cleared some space) so I will be able to carry on hoeing/pulling from that area.


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compostqueen

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The proper permeable sheet mulch is really good stuff, plus it's rough so slugs don't congregate under it like they do sheet plastic, which is not much use at all as it doesn't allow rain to pass through so you'd end up with a solid, dry lump under it  :)  Mice and shrews on the other hand have been a problem once for me when they nested and lived off my Kerrs Pinks :) 

Keep on top of the mares tail or it will get top side of you. I think eliminating it completely might be impossible from what people say  :(

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sowitgrowit

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Hopefully I will be able to "maintain" the marestail - I've given up on being rid of it as a plot neighbour says it's all over the allotments - luckily my plot is only partly mare'd up.

Thanks for the advice, all  :blush:

Hopefully it will help with the watering too, as I have to go and fetch water in cans/buckets from the nearby river for watering  :unsure:



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