Ground Cover Weed Control
The bane of every gardener is how to control the weeds that keep springing up [from nowhere] on the allotment. The question we are always pondering is , which is the worse offender, the weeds or the pests? But even if the weed crisis only comes second place it needs addressing [annually]. If there are no crops growing on the ground at the moment we have the option of totally covering the ground which should banish the weeds. Over the past few weeks I decided to put various ground cover materials to test. I assume that even if new weeds were to germinate they would have little chance of survival under any ground cover, what I was trying to test, was which ground cover would be strong enough that it could even banish existing weeds.
My Ground Cover Weed Control Experiment
I took an assortment of equal sized materials and covered a spare piece of land on my allotment that had quite a variety of weed vegetation growing.
As the picture shows the strips were covered with different material in the following order from left to right;
An old carpet, a black felt type material sold specifically for weed control, a black woven polypropylene also sold specifically for weed control, a white woven polypropylene fabric, a black dustbin bag, and a mulch of bark chips.
The results of my ground cover weed experiment
After a few weeks I checked the progress of my experiment, I folded over the ground covers and the second photo illustrates the outcome.
The first square, the carpet, definitely outdid all the other treatments and starved the weeds from all their needs, upon removing the carpet the ground underneath was practically bare of weeds, the bark mulch on the other side was also bare after just a few weeks. The felt type weed protector also did quite well , but I was surprised that the woven polypropylene covers had very little effect on the weeds. The black dustbin bag and the white woven polypropelyne seemed to actually protect the weeds from the elements and helped them grow!
The outcome can be explained with the fact that since the squares were around a metre2, they could have allowed water to reach the weeds and therefore they continued to grow, unless they were totally darkened by a thick cover like a carpet or a deep mulch. If the covers would have been larger the outcome may have been different, but this experiment was to determine how to get rid of the weeds of just a small area of land, larger areas might benefit from different treatments.
After ground treatment perennial weeds will still need digging out by the roots
Remember though, that perennial weeds have strong roots, and even if the top growth has been removed with a ground cover, this is just to make it easier to deal with the roots, but unless the roots are covered for at least a whole season they will just regrow within a short time. There is only one real solution to the weed problem on allotments, and that is the hard work of digging them out.
In order to ensure that no corner of my allotment will ever become a bed of weeds again – I have just made a new year resolution, in the coming year I will literally turn over every new leaf! This year as soon as I see a weed seedling I will immediately remove it without allowing it to grow into a whole mass of weeds with strong roots. (I know I am going to keep this resolution as well as I have kept all the others in the past!).
Good gardening in the New Year,
Boris Legarni .