I have tried different forms of gardening over the years. Partly through curiosity and interest but also to find out which way works best for me. Lack of garden space reduces the choice but on some occasions whether in pot or in ground, it makes very little difference and I have tested a few plants to the limit. It’s not so much developing a huge harvest from a plant pot as it is finding out if it’s possible to grow something in a reduced environment at all. I successfully grew sweet potatoes in a container, considering it’s a bit cold in this area for them, I was pleased that I had tried. Although perhaps best grown in a poly tunnel, my mini version served its purpose.
I like the principle of Charles Dowding’s ‘No-Dig’ gardening which seems to work, as does Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening (SFG). Traditional gardening has been tried and tested for generations and there is enjoyment if you don’t want to take any of the shortcuts. Trying out different methods is also very interesting and every gardener will find their own niche. I thought I had found a candidate for mine with SFG, recommended by a friend. I studied the book and joined forums specifically for raised beds. I also found an online free calculator for sowing times and patterns, so I thought all I need to do now is plant the seeds.
I decided that the front, weedy lawn should be got rid of and that’s where the ‘No-Dig’ gardening came into it. Instead of digging out the turf, I covered it with cardboard, then weed control fabric topped with bark. It has done very well with only a few weeds coming through. Couch grass is the ‘wanna be grass’, it wants to spread everywhere and seems especially attracted to well established plants and will send its long, slender blades up through them, making it difficult to remove.
I was considering raised beds in the front garden, and the ground is being prepared for at least one bed and during this time I was keeping an eye on the various forums, in case I missed an easy option somewhere. Someone wanted to know how to deal with weeds on the ground he wanted to place his raised bed for SFG. I posted a reply saying I had used cardboard and weed control fabric. Within minutes my post had been removed as a breach of rules. I was curious as I didn’t see anything wrong and it was within the context of the query, so I emailed admin.
“Promoting cardboard” was the reply and in spite of it being recommended by other expert gardeners, it wasn’t allowed on this particular site. It was also followed up by a very long stream of environmental issues about disturbing the microbial life and suffocating worms. The owner described herself as a Citizen Soil Scientist, something I hadn’t heard of so I turned to Google to find out more. It appears that it’s a group of people with an interest in soil, but of no real standing, running various tests. I read the rules of the site again and they seemed a bit stringent for a social media group, so as I potter in the garden for enjoyment, I didn’t feel that forum was right for me, so I left.
I carried on preparing the area for the raised beds and as some weeds had popped up between some loose laid paviours, I lifted them up for easier access. In spite of the cardboard and weed control fabric, it looked as if I still had a healthy. thriving community of worms, I am delighted to say. I can only hope it’s the same for the microbes but I without a microscope, I couldn’t tell. I don’t think I could live with the idea that my 8′ x 6′ patch of cardboard and fabric covered weed control barrier was responsible for the total destruction of them all in my garden. Don’t you just love some ‘experts’?