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By Maddy

West Sussex, United Kingdom Gb

Hello Experts!
I want to cover several beds for the winter. However, Mypex is very expensive. I can buy fleece very cheaply from a local gardening club. If I used this double thickness, would it work at supressing weeds and stll allow some moisture through?
Organically I ought to grow a green manure, but then it conflicts with my "no dig" system.
In the past I've used compost bags split open, but they don't let any moisture in.



Rather than covering with fleece have you considered several inches of mulch, Bulba has covered areas of our veggie garden with a deep mulch of lawn clippings which will rot down and in over the winter. Fleece wont inhibit the growth of weeds, in fact it will encourage them as it will be warmer under the fleece.

I'm interested, you don't dig at all? So how do you cultivate your soil?

26 Nov, 2011


It might be worth the investment in mypex, frankly, if its something you want to do next and subsequent years as well - it lasts a lot longer than cheap weed suppressant membranes, which would be the other obvious choice.

26 Nov, 2011


Oh I do so like this site! Thanks for your replies Bamboo (again) and Maggy 7 (Hello!)

Firstly, Bamboo, you are right, mypex would be the best thing but I have a ginormous number of bills coming in shortly so am having to be "sensible." Many thanks for your comment.

Hi Maggy7 re, "no Dig."
I try to garden organically. When I first started 8 years ago I knew very little about gardening. My Husband had died and I inherited his huge veggie plot and nothing about the way he had gardened really appealed to me, very masculine (large rotavator, double digging and enormous, unusable amounts of runner beans etc.)

I discovered Bob Flowerdew and got to meet him a couple of times and he was very helpful. I was convinced that Organic gardening was the way to go and I mostly stick to it and belong to an Organic gardening club.
With the help of my family, and the large choir that I belonged to at the time, I created a potager with 12 raised beds. (16 people worked on it over a sunny weekend and those less able supplied the food and drink!) After one year I realised that I was feeding the choir and a lot of my neighbours too! I bought some turfs and covered over 3 of the beds. It's quite managable now as one has only Autumn raspberries with wild strawberries underneath, another just asparagus, one is herbs and some flowers. I'm now growing more flowers and just mixing in amongst them the veggies that I need. I grow all my own salads and courgettes, carrots, parsnips, beans, rainbow chard, spinach, several wigwams of sweet peas which I adore. That's mostly it. I find potatoes (apart from clearing the soil) involve digging and I'm not that keen on them anyway, and, for some reason, my garden doesn't seem to like onions or garlic so I buy them. Apart from the latter I can go several months without buying any produce at all.
I also have a huge greenhouse. Again, in the beginning I had it full of produce and it was really hard work. Now I just bring on seeds, and have a couple of tomato plants, a couple of climbing mini cucumbers and masses of basil. I wish I had a neighbour who would like to use the greenhouse.....
The whole garden is around half an acre and the front used to be one huge lawn. I've created a Forest garden and only planted native trees and shrubs, most of which produce fruit like quince, medlar, crab apple and I already had plums, damsons and lots of apple trees. There is also a large herbaceous border and, over time, I've learnt to stop fussing and just fill it with things that mostly look after themselves.
Initially I really wore myself out doing everything myself(I think I was trying to prove a point!) but now I'm pretty organised. I have a lovely country man with his son who cut all the hedges once a year and men who come fornightly to cut the grass in season (and they're all really affordable.) I also have Ian (a massive fisherman) who whenever I've got a really tough job like digging out a root which would take me all day, he come over and does it in around 30 mins....
So many people told me to be sensible, to move house and "downsize" but I really love gardening now and if I moved I'd just have to find an allotment!
Mulches are a big part of the system and trying to disturb the layers as little as possible. Your comments about using mulch made me realise that I've been piling up behind my greenhouse, bags of leaf mould and some pretty good soil. I was saving them for the Spring when I hope to have a lot of well-rotted horse manure to combine with them but I guess I could use some of them (together with some slightly rotten grass clippings that are in a big pile and mulch all the beds.
Let's hope the rain holds off tomorrow so I can finish the job.
Happy gardening!


26 Nov, 2011


With constant mulching, MG, and a healthy population of earthworms, cultivation isn't really necessary. No dig gardening, and no till farming, are growing fields (if you'll pardon the pun) of interest among organic aficionados. I have to confess that I haven't taken the time yet to really research the techniques, or try them out. As of now, I can foresee greater difficulties with some forms of weeds, some adjustments to seed planting techniques, but better soil profiles and fertility.

26 Nov, 2011


Up when did I become Maggie &? I've always been Moon_grower or MG for short!

Can't see how no-dig gardening works if you are growing veggies. I'll obviously need to look at this more but think Bulba and I will continue to mulch and dig.

26 Nov, 2011


The no-dig technique involves making a compost-mulch layer at least 6 inches thick on top of the soil (either directly on top of soil or on wetted cardboard). The action of worms etc is supposed to make drainage and improve the soil underneath. It is a long term lazy way of improving soil. If you make the mulch/compost deep enough then you can grow veg and fruit easily.

Am not convinced that if you have compacted clay soil underneath the mulch layer that you will have much improvement (maybe a few centimetres) even after a few years.

26 Nov, 2011


I'm afraid I'm a bit of a dinosaur and I would have thought that being an organic gardener you would have used the winter cold and frosts to help your gardening. They will create a fine tilth, stop the soil from becoming sour and hopefully kill slug and snail eggs that will overwinter under a mypex cover.

27 Nov, 2011


wow! I've caused a debate. Thanks everyone for all the comments. My soil is heavy clay, but since I've been using the "no dig" method and just piling on all my homemade compost, any well-rotted horse manure I can get and grass cuttings the soil has really improved. Because I have my lawns mown for me most of the cuttings are taken away but now I'll make sure they pile up for future use.
When I started the system (with the previously mentioned "labourers" to help!) I had asked a neighbour if he could spare a bucket or two of horse manure. He delivered a whole pick up truck load of well-rotted horse manure to add to the vast compost heap that my Husband had built up. I think this is what kick- started my veggie patch into become a lovely friable soil and it's still good after 8 years. I just need to concentrate on "feeding" it a bit more as it's been so productive.
Right, the sun is out, lotsa work to do Thanks again M.

27 Nov, 2011


Maddy, I'd reiterate it was MoonGrower who asked for info re your no dig method, not Maggy7.
I sort of half use the no dig method in ordinary gardens - I'll admit only in years when my back's really bad - then I just scrape off the winter debris, and lay a very thick mulch of something or other, with a reasonably liberal application of Vitax Q4 beneath. Seems to work pretty well...

27 Nov, 2011


Thank you everyone for all your comments, and apologies to MoonGrower for using the wrong name.

I covered all my beds yesterday with partially rotted grass cuttings (a large heap that I'd re-discovered at the bottom of my garden). Only 24 barrow loads (!) however, feeling surprisingly fit this a.m.

I'll be off line for some time now as I've put the garden to bed for the winter and will now be in my shed with my lathe, trying to turn all the bowls and goblets that I rashly promised to make people for Christmas!

Wishing you all a relaxing holiday from the garden. Maddy

28 Nov, 2011

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