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Hello fellow plant people, 

I have been looking for advice on how to use woven landscape fabric or Mapex to protect a plot (2.10x6.3m) over the winter (from now until March-ish). I want to use it to keep the soil warm for early planting and sowing but I've heard good and bad things about it. I am not interested in adding nutrients to the soil so I have disregarded other mulches. The first 2.5m of the plot is covered with a green manure (hungarian grazing rye for those that are interested). That area I intend to grow vegetables on. The remaining will be flowers (the reason I don't want to add further nutrients). I read something recently that says landscape fabric is bad for the soil and its inhabitants. I want a healthy soil but a warm soil. Can anyone offer any advice on the matter? 

nutcutlet

I'd definitely leave the soil exposed for the winter. Why would it need to be warm? If it did keep it warm all the living thing in the soil, including the ones you don't want, would multiply and the birds wouldn't be able to get in there an eat them.

Dig it. leave it, and in the spring warm it up a couple of weeks before you want to start work. 

If it was my own garden I wouldn't be in such a hurry. But this is a project I am doing for a Horticulture course I am on and our deadline is 21st of June! Which for us gardeners is early! I have chosen plants that will be ready then. It doesn't help that I'm based in Edinburgh! Your advice is much appreciated. 

sotongeoff

Landscape fabric will do little to warm the soil if that is what you are tyring to achieve-what it will do is keep the weather off and suppress the weeds

When you remove it you will have a soggy layer of soil-a load of hibernating/hiding slugs and a few other nasties and probably some white roots-far better to leave it exposed to the elements throughout the winter

Cover it with polytehene or a cloche early in the year to warm up the soil-not landscape fabric.

So you think something like horty fleece would be better early next year? I'm reluctatnt to use polythene beacause it's not permeable. Really grateful for your knowledge!

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sotongeoff

Fleece is good for protecting plants against frost-but again will do little to warm the soil-why does the covering need to be permeable?

 

Beatrice lee. Best to leave ground uncovered in winter. If you want it to be a bit warmer earlier next spring then cover with clear polythene when weather is improving, say march. Keeping soil uncovered in winter helps it to be healthy, creates access for birds and will help create a good tilth. How about bringing on pots indoors if you want early plants by June 21st? You can then plant out from the pots in spring

Frost is the best soil improver that is why we rough dig in Autumn and leave the frost to do the rest. In Spring rake the soil to a tilth and put cloches over the bits where you wish to plant only. A cloche is better because it is off the soil and yet keeps it dry, you can make your own by using bendy sticks with plastic over them.
The soil warms when the sun is on it and it does not need a blanket what you are after is something to keep the rain off yet the sun will warm. Do that in February it is soon enough and you will have your project by June "err" if we get a summer this year that is.

Frank.

Alan4711

Hi,, if its any use we are useing the plastic blue water pipe for clotches its strong and easy to bend and push into the soil use,builders merchants or farm surplies do it maybe you can get cut offs cheap might be usefull

Alan

artjak

When I have used plastic water pipe for cloches, my builder advised sticking bamboo into the ground, deep as poss and then putting water pipe over. This made it very stable for my rather exposed garden.

Yes this definitely sounds like a plan, my cloches have been pretty battered in the past even from the slightest bit of rain! Appreciate the advice. 

The blue water pipe with bamboo ends and polythene is very useful. I use it to protect large plants in pots over winter and again for spring sowings. Very strong and stands up well to winter gales. And.......it's CHEAP.

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