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planting through weed membrane

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by MRishi, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. MRishi

    MRishi Gardener

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    This year I want to plant most of my veg through weed membrane . This might help me to concentrate more on imporoving the plot than to running after weeds.

    I have 2 plots , one is 70% cleared and other is 30% cleared. and remaining part is covered with weed membrane or black plastic.

    out door tomatos, squash, courgettes can be planted through plastic. and what other crps are easy to manage this way?
     
  2. shiney

    shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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    I've been using it successfully for years. You need to make sure that the membrane you use is the porous type.

    As well as the ones you mention I use it for runner and French beans, sweetcorn, peas and even used it to grow giant onions.

    If you're careful with the membrane it will last you years. The oldest section with it is still going strong after 10 years or so. It gets rolled back each winter for digging and composting and then immediately pinned back down. I hose it down occasionally to remove the small amount of mud and lots of leaves.
     
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    • silu

      silu gardening easy...hmmm

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      I have some spare membrane left over from covering many of my shrub beds with it + barkchip as that was the only way I was going to cope with my huge garden unless I weeded 24/7. Unfortunately the membrane I used while very good quality and tough as old boots frays like the devil. Fine once laid and not disturbed but don't think it would be good for planting through on a veg patch when so many holes would be needed, would I be right in thinking this? Any ideas @shiney of a good make of membrane as I would like to cover at least part of my ever increasing veg patch. Hopefully you'll reply and add to your "small" post count:).
       
    • Scrungee

      Scrungee Well known for it

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      I'm a convert to using it, probably have about 20 poles of it down and grow tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic, courgettes, cucumbers, marrows, squash, French beans, runner beans, sweetcorn, peas, lbroad beans, leaf beet/chard, lettuce, strawberries, sweet peas, statice, strawflowers, sunflowers and sweet william (might have missed something!) through Mypex type woven polypropylene membrane.

      Next year I'll be growing parsnips and mooli through it, but root crops like that need to be at the edge of a sheet so it can be rolled back to get a fork under them, and I'll also be trying radishes sown in small clumps through my normal X shaped cuts, but they'll need small formers made of thin corrugated plastic (Correx/Proplex/Antinox/etc., such as http://www.wickes.co.uk/Swiftec-Antinox-Surface-Protection-2-4-x-1-2-x-2mm/p/118670 which you can often find in skips towards the end of a job ) to hold the Mypex clear of them.

      Thread started on this subject last year, but I've been taken various pics to add to it and will look them out and post them http://gardenerscorner.co.uk/forum/...-using-weed-suppressing-membrane-mypex.68728/

      If you're clearing overgrown plots, get brambles out as they will push it up/escape through planting holes, thistles can germinate under it but sulk underneath and get blanched, and keep some ant powder handy to squirt through a nearby hole if you see a mound starting to form under it, other than that plants will grow better, need less water and weeding is only a few odd thistles to remove every 2 or 3 years when I lift the sheets to rotavate under them and add compost/manure/etc.

      I started off by growing through heavy duty black plastic dpm sheet, but that doesn't let water through and is much more difficult to fold/store when not in use. It is very useful for covering seed beds in the autumn so they don't get waterlogged over winter/spring which can be a real problem for me with heavy clay soil, but I try and sow as much stuff as possible in modules and plant them (+ potted plants, etc.) out through Mypex type membrane.
       
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        Last edited: Dec 11, 2015
      • MRishi

        MRishi Gardener

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        silu, I tried making holes for garlic and broadbeans ..using scissors..not really happy with this way. there is lot of info on best ways to make holes into membrane ..am searching for them again..so thought a fresh topic would help me.
         
      • Scrungee

        Scrungee Well known for it

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        I make X shaped cuts using a sharp (I use a oilstone on them) pair of thin bladed stainless steel scissors and don't have any problems. Some people suggest burning holes with a gas torch but that distorts the material all around it and makes a real mess of the sheet.

        Using a bulb plant to make holes for potted plants and a very narrow trowel (I use a Widger) to make holes for modular cell tray grown plants will not damage/fray the cut edges. Turn cut edges at perimeters under the sheet before pegging down and don't let a strimmer get in contact with it.

        I can't understand why the likes of suppliers such as T&M haven't produced sheets of heavy duty Mypex with different grids of sealed edge preformed holes and seamed perimeter edges, together with sets of holding down pegs. I suggested this when completing a new products survey for T&M a couple of years ago, and must raise it again next time I see one of their managers.
         
        Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
      • silu

        silu gardening easy...hmmm

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        Big :ThankYou: @Scrungee. I've read the link all about your great ideas (such a pity Kristen doesn't post any longer as was very knowledgeable). Love your idea of huge staples. A wee job for me to make some with spare fencing wire I have already. Not quite sure how you use membrane with the likes of Carrots and Parsnips tho. Probably being thick! Do you sow direct and leave a gap between 2 sheets of membrane? Also how do you cope with Leeks?. Do you use a dibber type thing making a deep hole for planting as obviously can't soil up to blanche.
         
      • Scrungee

        Scrungee Well known for it

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        Carrots to be sown direct either in slits cut in Mypex, pulled apart, drill formed, seeds sown, soil drawn back, mypex pulled back to leave just a very narrow exposed strip of soil where the seeds have been sown, then both edges fencing wire 'stapled' in place, or sown in stations through X shaped cuts with edges drawn back and held in place with rectangular formers made of that corrugated plastic mentioned above, made by stapling strips into bands and holding down with small pegs made from fencing wire.

        Parsnips to be sown in bog roll tubes (there's a thread on that somewhere here and I will edit/post link here) planted through mypex X shaped holes using combination of narrow trowel/large dibber to form holes.

        I plant my leeks using a dibber to make the holes in ground, again through X shaped holes in the membrane. I've cut holes at 225mm/9" centres in rows 225mm/9" apart, approx. 5 rows like that then leave space for an access path, and have used sheets cut like that for leeks, garlic, onions, lettuce, chard, French beans, peas, broad beans and flowers.

        I've been growing through membrane for over 25 years, and being lazy always looking for an easy life, I'm always looking for new ways of using it to make things easier.

        Reading his blog, he now uses my method of using fencing straining wire 'staples' to hold down his mypex.

        P.S. I got over 300m of straining wire at a car boot sale for £3!
         
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        • shiney

          shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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          @silu I think that other thread says it all. :blue thumb:

          I don't know the make of my membrane. Apart from not remembering back that far I don't think I ever knew it. I saw it being used by one of the local garden centres to stand all their pots of plants on (saved them needing to do any weeding) and bought a whole roll from them - think it was 100m

          I don't bother about sealing the holes. I use a Stanley knife to cut the X and fold the four triangles back underneath, leaving a square. I don't fold back any holes not being used. The membrane has never frayed in all those years.

          The material at the end of each run is folded back 6" underneath and is, now, held down with bricks. I've given up on my staples as it's too much trouble for me to lift them and put them back. Bricks are much easier for me as I don't have to bend quite so low. The extra two or three inches makes a big difference.

          I laid out a new area last December for use this year. The membrane had just been laid down and gently held in place before being stretched out fairly taught. Then it was pinned tight at the corners and just held in place with bricks. The wooden posts are for the new ShineyFrame for growing beans.

          P1220110.JPG
           
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          • Scrungee

            Scrungee Well known for it

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            One criticism of using Mypex type membranes I've read on the web, is that it doesn't let water through and creates a space underneath for pests such as slugs to shelter, both of which I attribute to incorrect installation, mypex is permeable, but the ground underneath needs to be level, otherwise you're erecting a mypex tent flysheet above it, so either rotorvate and rake level before laying, or strim weeds to destruction and trim surface level with a spade if spot planting the likes of courgettes into small prepared pits through it.
             
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              Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
            • shiney

              shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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              I've never had problems with the water permeating the membrane but, as Scrungee says, it's better to have the ground flat. Otherwise the water will collect in puddles before permeating through the bottom of the puddle.
               
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              • MRishi

                MRishi Gardener

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                for carrot, parsnips, leeks and any suck like spring onions etc..I did watch a video some time back.. put a pinch of seads in each slit or hole...then thin them out with some spacing to 3 or 4 plants to each hole.. would give very good size of carrots or any other veg :)
                 
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                • silu

                  silu gardening easy...hmmm

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                  GREAT advice all, many thanks. Been busy all afternoon making staples a la Scrungee and also been hunting out some bricks a la Shiney as will probably use both. Area for the membrane is already reasonably flat and has been de weeded/covered in compost and manure. If (accent on the if!) it ever stops lashing from above I'll get going to turn the mixture over, my days of double digging are well passed so the veg will just have to cope with what is offered here. I'm now hunting for the best deal on Mypex, I won't use my spare membrane that frays. The area I am going to be dealing with looks about the same/maybe a little bigger as in your photo Shiney as I have another 2 areas I grow veg which just wasn't enough for what I wanted. Hopefully, weather permitting I'll have the area ready for next season. I want to grow loads more Sweet corn which take up a great deal of room and also I'm going to grow/attempt both Broccoli and Cauliflower which also take up loads of space. I doubt very much that Scrungee is lazy, neither am I BUT there is more to life than being bent double weeding for hours on end:).
                   
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                  • shiney

                    shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                    Sweetcorn gets pollinated better if it's planted in blocks instead of rows.

                    P1080130.JPG
                     
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                    • Scrungee

                      Scrungee Well known for it

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                      Silly me, I forgot to mention strawberries in my first post so have edited it as I'm growing over 200 of them through Mypex.

                      Sweetcorn is another plant to grow at the edge of a sheet, or through one that's being removed at the end of season, as the roots grow too big to pull through the holes.
                       
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