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Raised beds over the winter?  

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Raised beds over the winter?

Post Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:28 pm

Once you've cleared out the plants do you have to do anything else? I had a notion that you should cover the soil with plastic or old carpet or something but OH says not.

What do you all do?
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:58 pm

No you dont need to but if you do then the bed will be weedfree and the soil a little warmer come spring

You could also try 'green manure' seeds which grow to cover the area and stops nutrients leaching form the soil over wibter, late winter you just dig the plants in to provide more nutrients
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:08 pm

If they aren't in use I think covering them would be a good idea. Black plastic or cardboard maybe. It will stop weeds, soil erosion and the leaching of nutrients from the soil.

I have some leeks which I'm going to leave in over the winter. They are a bit small right now. If they don't grow over the winter then at least they will have a good start early next year.

There are things that will benefit from being left in over the winter, eg. garlic.
Certain onions can be grown over the winter. Kale is very hardy.
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Sun Sep 27, 2009 10:04 pm

I top mine up with compost and then cover to stop weeds.
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:41 am

I sometimes bung some old carpet over any unused beds, if I can get hold of some. It does a great job of keeping the weeds down, but is a bit of a nightmare to lift when sodden in sring,& even worse to get rid of.

Plastic seems like a good option to me.
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:52 am

Thanks, all :) .

I've been keeping all the compost bags over the year so should have enough to cover at least a couple of beds. Should the black side be on the soil or doesn't it matter?
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:15 am

Black side up I would say - black absorbs the heat.

We've used carboard before now and even when it is sodden from rain, you can just plant through it.
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:25 pm

I'd say black side up, too, for the same heat-absorbing reason! And pegged down securely :P .
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:13 pm

I tend to sow green manures, for a number of reasons:

1) They can be nitrogen fixers / nitrogen lifters, so increase the availability of nitrogen in the soil
2) They surpress weed growth
3) They can be dug back into the soil a few weeks before planting, and will break down and provide nutrients for whatever follows next

More importantly, though, is the school of thought that holds covering an area with plastic/carpet/cardboard/etc actually INCREASES the slug burden, as it provides a nice, damp, warm place out of reach of the birds for the slugs to live and breed.

I read somewhere that 90% of the slug population lives in the soil, rather than the few we see on top of it! I, for one, have enough of a problem with slugs without making life nice and cosy for them!!!

Overall, I'd recommend green manures. You do need to think about what you are going to plant in the bed next year, and use the green manure in rotation with your other plants. For instance, don't use fodder radish in a bed that you intend using for brassicas, don't use tares in a bed that you will be planting with beans.

The organic gardening catalogue http://www.organiccatalogue.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=21_51&osCsid=d815cc208bb44d7d71bfa19071b5eaf0 has a nice section explaining about the different types of green manures.

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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:12 pm

I sowed vetch (sp) last year and the hens ate it all/dug it up :roll: :roll:

I now cover in plastic compost bags and leave over winter. A couple of beds have spinach in over winter which are covered in fleece to give them some protection. The hens get the spinach :wink:
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Re: Raised beds over the winter?

Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:15 pm

Hens are brilliant at de-slugging, aren't they? I fence off my veggie beds, but take the fence off them a couple of weeks before sowing so the chickadidles get in to scratch about and eat the slugs (and the earthworms... ho hum, can't have it all ways I s'pose!)
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