I just got hold of my first allotment space (my first year growing outside of containers) and have been having some problems with weeds. I would like to combat this by choosing a sustainable ground cover that will improve the soil. I thought about growing clover, but my biggest problem is that in the Spring time, a tractor comes and tills the whole field and I fear the seeds dumped by the clover the previous year will fail to sprout if they are buried after tilling.
Has anyone managed to witness clover regrowth after tilling? Or perhaps you have another self sustaining ground cover solution you can suggest?
What do you want to grow on your plot? Because clover can out-compete with seedlings of a lot of kinds of vegetables and be a real pest in the vegetable garden. If you can tell us more about how you want to use the plot we might be able to give more helpful advice. It can survive tilling and is pretty hard to get rid of once you've got it.
Renate Haeckler wrote:What do you want to grow on your plot? Because clover can out-compete with seedlings of a lot of kinds of vegetables and be a real pest in the vegetable garden. If you can tell us more about how you want to use the plot we might be able to give more helpful advice. It can survive tilling and is pretty hard to get rid of once you've got it.
I'm quite open to a variety of things to grow, but limited to the short growing season of 65 Degrees N. My plot is close to the beach, so the soil is quite sandy. I want to improve the quality of the soil so this year I've planted mostly peas and beans because I hear they are good at this. I've also planted some tomatoes, pumpkins, and leaf beet in various places.
The majority of the other growers plant potatoes, carrots, and onions, but I don't really see the point of this as you can get all these in the shops really cheap. I want to be a little more adventurous
If you'd ever tasted the difference between home grown, freshly dug potatoes and store ones you'd understand why they grow them! Two of my favorites that would do very well for you there are mizuna and baby bok choi. Mizuna makes a large attractive mound and it's heavenly when stir-fried with some garlic and olive oil.
Other than clover, which I think might be a little too invasive for a vegetable garden, you could grow hairy vetch, winter rye (in the areas you won't be growing winter vegetables), or buckwheat for any bare spots in the warm season. Buckwheat makes strong smothering growth and lots of vegetative matter to be incorporated when they plow it (or that will die in the cold winter and cover the topsoil to prevent erosion). A friend plants daikon-type radishes in the late summer/fall to get deep tubers. They die in the winter and earthworms are attracted to eat out the dead rotting tubers during thaws. By spring planting time the soil is well-aerated from the worm tunnels and filled with worm casings. Mycorrhizal fungi spread via worm casings.
You *could* amend your soil with clay kitty litter - get the cheapest, unscented kind - usually it's straight out of the ground and the absorbent kinds are often very good kinds like bentonite. And any leaves you see raked and bagged in the fall can be added on top as well.
I live on the sandy coast of Oregon, so I can relate on that note... A tip about adding clay to sand: don't directly. Clay put into sand without organic matter, simply disappears... Instead; make up a slurry with the clay and water. Then coat quality organic matter with it (such as ramial woodchips, shredded straw, homemade compost, biochar). Once put down, spray with homemade AACT (actively aeratedcompost tea).
Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association