Slow allotment gardening in the life of a busy family
Thursday, 24 March 2011
To plastic or not to plastic?
...isn't actually a question I ask myself. But I see so many plots swathed in plastic sheeting over the winter months that there are obviously plastic afficionados out there. I know that it keeps the weeds down. I know that it means that you don't start the spring by weeding. But I can't reconcile growing with smothering the soil for months at a time. I want to see frost sparkling on the hard earth, puddles shining in a sudden shaft of weak sun, Ted Hughes' 'attentant sleek thrushes' stabbing at worms. It seems the gardening equivalent of keeping the plastic covers on the suite in the front room.
Our winter cover this year was a mass of dead phacelia, flattened under the December snow. I feared a strenuous job of digging in wiry stems.
But the first forkful revealed a clean, bare, fine tilth. It was the tilth of seedbeds, which I have only read about but never achieved. 'I have a tilth', I kept saying to myself as I swept away more stems. No digging in, or up. Just a bit of sweeping, and underneath healthy soil which had been rained, snowed, frosted and sunned upon.
The other thing that puts me off plastic is that you have to do something with it for the rest of the year. And our shed is full already. But are there any bloggers who have answered 'yes!' to the plastic question?