Using Weed-Suppressant fabric to grow crops through

Person Author: Gavin Conway Calender February 24, 2013 Posted No Tags Comment 5 Comments

This year I have decided to grow a lot of veg through weed suppressant fabric. For a few reasons…. mainly due to running two home based businesses I don’t have a lot of time to dig weeds at the plot and secondly it makes for a tidy plot – well I think so and I’m a meticulous geek that likes straight lines and measured spacings. How sad is that!!

Last year I was given a part used roll of poly prop type weed fabric and as my first year on the plot I planted all my strawberries through it as well as my courgettes. I just cut slits in it and grew through it. They all did really well and I noticed I had almost no slug damage. I’m hoping it’s because maybe they don’t like slithering on the fabric… However I did get a few through the planting slits I made. I did throw a few hand-fulls of slug pellets on top a few times but did’n’t really find any dead slugs on top.

All I did was make a grid with strings and cut slots or an X and planted through it..
Below are the new strawbs and courgettes.

  

So this year I’m doing my onions (about 400) at 15 cm spacings each way, along with my sweetcorn and a small patch of cabbages at 30 cm each way.. I find that onions need a lot of hand weeding because of the way the leaves all get intertwined  and are easily broken using a hoe. So if I use the fabric I only have to weed what comes up through the  holes beside the plants.

Today it was chilly but clear so I got the roll out and set up the fabric on the lawn and marked off the holes.

Pics below are making the grid pattern and burning the holes

   

Firstly I cut the fabric a bit bigger than the beds will be allowing a bit extra to tuck under the walkway plank. Luckily the width of the fabric suits the bed length of 4.4 mt so I only have to cut to suit the bed width. I then mark off every 15cm (or 30) on each side and then push some thin wire hoops into the ground and then thread strings through to use these for the rows. Then I get another few strings and place them across as a grid pattern.. Then to get the actual postions to cut out I use a blue marker pen as it is visible on the dark grey fabric and marked small circles at the cross points of the grid. Then I got the wadd cutter punch that my son machined for me and started to hammer out the 70mm diameter holes in  fabric – NOT… For some reason the punch did not cut through the fabric…. Mmmm back to the drawing board…. Idea – got my blow torch and tried to burn a few holes – worked perfectly and it also seals the edges as it burns and stops it fraying.

So all in all a great day was had and I made all that I need for the onions, sweetcorn main crop and my cabbages. Maybe next year I’ll do my garlic and leeks through it as well.. Thank goodness we have a great seed shop to get all the seed I need – I have had to order more sweetcorn as I now have more  to plant due to smaller spacings.

 

 

 

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5 Responses to “Using Weed-Suppressant fabric to grow crops through”

  • Tee Gee:

    [quote]Mmmm back to the drawing board[/quote]

    Consider this;

    Do not punch holes but cut them!

    Do this by cutting a double slot in an X fashion at your desired locations.

    When planting out just bend the flaps back then dig your hole, I use a bulb planter ii is easier!

    Once you have planted your plant tuck the flaps back to the stem of the plant, this way you will find virtually no soil is exposed thus reducing the potential for weed growth.

    Rain water will run from the leaves and down the stem meaning there is no problem with watering.

    You will also find that that initially that although the sheeting is porous, excess water will seem to run off the sheeting while it is still new and unweathered but it will still enter through the X slots., then eventually over the whole area!

    I hope you find my observations useful as it is another of those tasks where I have got the T shirt 😉

    BTW enjoyed the blog!.

  • Helen Fowler:

    I think weed suppressing fabric is great. Like you say Gavin, it keeps your plots looking clean and kills off the weeds without back breaking work. Hope to see pics of your onions later this year.

  • chris:

    How durable is weed fabric? Will you replace annually? Seasonally or not at all?

  • Hi TG.. I burned the holes with a gas torch – much easier than cutting X Watering is no problem as the fabric is very porous.. Cheers for now Gavin

  • Mark Coupe:

    What type of membrane is recommended? I have tried one and it looked totally waterproof as the water just balled up and ran off.I see Tee Gee says it needs to weather before becoming permeable. How long does this take?

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