Friday, May 17

Fruit mulch


Continuing the theme of trying to reduce the amount of time spent weeding we are also using weed control fabric and mulching some of the fruit beds. The ones in front of the shed will be left uncovered. These beds due to the way in which they are planted up would be fiddly to cover with fabric and really keeping these under control by regularly hoeing isn't a long job.

Other fruit beds can be a bit more problematic. 

A couple of beds that contain young apple trees seem to attract weeds like a candle attracts moths. It's just a pity that the weed survival rate is extremely high. These beds were edged with alpine strawberries but they had been planted for a long time and deteriorated becoming old and straggly and producing few fruits. These have been removed, the weeds cleared, fertiliser applied and the beds covered with weed control fabric on top. On top of this we have spread a mulch of well rotted manure (we are very wary of using manure but someone regularly fills a storage bay on our site and other people seem to have been using the contents for some time now with no ill effects so we are risking it).

This bed below contains three apple trees and some rhubarb.
At present the other bed contains an apple and a jostaberry, but we will add some other fruit here when we decide what to buy. Any suggestions for must have fruit?
It also contained a globe artichoke but this was being strangled by wick/couch grass and so has been dug up and popped in a pot to recuperate. We've never harvested the 'globes' but it's a plant worth growing for the bees who can't resist burying themselves in the flowers. We have gained quite a lot of extra planting space here.

We covered the redcurrant and apple hedge beds a few years ago using weed control fabric onto which a mulch of wood chippings was added. This has worked well but needed to be tidied up as some weeds had grown into the mulch on top of the fabric. These were easily removed as they had not penetrated the fabric and more mulch was then added as a top up.


We cover the redcurrants otherwise we wouldn't get any fruit - the blackbirds love them and squawk their disgust each time I sneak under the net to pick the fruit. We use chicken wire around the base of the 'cage' to try to make sure that blackbirds don't get their feet entangled when trying to sneak in. We use netting over the top. The chicken wire was removed to tidy the bed but has been put back in place so we are ready for when the fruit needs protection.
We have two more fruit beds which we are going to give the weed control treatment - although being fully planted these may prove a bit more tricky.
So far this one has been weeded ready but the other still needs attending to.


Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

23 comments:

  1. Isn't the membrane a worm barrier? Personally I'd miss out on the black plastic and let the worms work in the compost over time.Seems more in harmony with nature this way.
    At home ,my raised beds with chipping surrounds seem to act as worm barriers,whereas on my more unrestricted allotment plot the worms,lots of big ones and small red ones,can move happily around.
    Friends of mine provide manure from their Icelandic ponies to our allotment site ,so we know it's source.It usually doesn't get time to rot down before it's been spread about the plots and the new bunker is already empty waiting for the next consignment.

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    1. It probably is David but the main aim of the exercise is to keep down the weed growth. We only really used the manure as the wood chippings store was empty. The ground under the fabric has been fertilised with fish, blood and bone or chicken manure pellets.

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  2. When I planted my fruit bushes and trees they went in fabric which I then gravelled over the top. It has worked well and certainly makes for an easy life maintenance wise. Can't really think of any 'Must Have' fruit. the only thing I have which is a little less ordinary are the cranberry and loganberries. I will be interested to see what other fruit you decide to get though.

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    1. We have a tayberry which s similar to a loganberry and a couple of cranberries in tubs, Tanuya but to be honest the ones we picked were really tart and we don't like having to add lots of sugar to make then edible. We really need something more upright

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    2. Sorry that should have said Lingonberry. Nothing like a tay or logan berry

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    3. I'll check that out Tanya.

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  3. Wow, you grow some serious fruit there Sue. I've never heard of a Jostaberry though - what is it and is it easy to grow?
    I think we have Tayberry growing wild here but other than a few apple, pear, plum, cherry and fig trees I don't bother with fruit. I think I may have to rethink that though :)

    Linda

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    1. It's a pity you don't live near to us Linda as we have lots of self rooted jostaberry plants where a branch has touched the ground and rooted. They are easy to grow but will grow quite large if not checked. It's a cross between a blackcurrant and a gooseberry.

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  4. Sue, I don't know where you find the time to tend to all that stuff! You must have a big staff...
    Have you considered the "new" fruits like Goji Berries and Honeyberries? Or a pink Blueberry?

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    1. We did have a go at goji berries once Mark but then there was some sort of fuss about viruses etc. so we dumped them. The other two suggestions are a possibility I'll have to see what I can find out about them?

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    2. Oh and in answer to the time issue - not working helps!

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    3. Hi Sue, just picking up on Mark's comment re Honeyberries .... I bought one earlier this year as I wanted a blueberry like fruit without the fuss of ericaceous compost. I've since found out that they're not self-pollinating so it's best to buy at least two. I've now got to find a second plant to buy ... and the space to put TWO bushes! Apparently they can grow to 1metre high and wide (in time). Mark Diacono's book 'A Taste of the Unexpected' has good info on growing this fruit. PS. They're also very hardy as they originate from Siberia!! :)

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    4. Thanks Caro that's a good bit of advice.

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  5. In Poland all of my neighbours sow marigolds (tagetes) tight around the fruit trees instead of mulching. It's said to be profitable for both sides, the trees and marigolds.

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    1. The mulch was really to keep the weeds down Dewberry. They grow like crazy in those particular beds.

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  6. Oh what about some of those Chilean Guava plants. They sound fun but not sure if they need an acidic compost.

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    1. I've not heard of those, Jo I'll have to investigate.

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  7. I'm sure you have greengages already Sue- they are certainly on my "must get" list! I'm interested in your cage protection: so a mini fence of chicken wire and netting over the top portion of the frame?

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    1. WE dod have a couple Jill and we love them even though they tend to fruit biennially like the plums and all choose the same year to have a good crop. Yes that is correct about the 'cage' I can untie the 'fence' at one end and creep under. The netting gives enough so I can more or less stand up when underneath - I'm not a tall person so I end up doing all the picking. The net is the firmer stuff again to try and protect the birds from being tangled as they will try everything to get in and do manage to reach down and steal some fruit at the top if the bushes.

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  8. A big job to get all that lot weeded and it is so awkward trying to get under and around the bushes isn't it. I can't afford to buy all the weed suppressant stuff so I soak newspapers and lay them around the plants - it works quite well.

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    1. We are banking on the weed fabric lasting a few years Elaine - the stuff used around the carrots was good again for this year.

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  9. Sorry I've been AWOL, hope to catch up with all your progress soon. Everything looks so lush and verdant, well done with all the weeding :}

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    1. No problem Bilbo - I knew you were taking time out! Plenty more weeding to do still though - and planting.

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