How to Do Cutting and Covering in Organic Gardens

Double digging is hard work. If you have the time to wait, ground can be prepared by “cutting and covering”. Cut down all the surface vegetation and cover with plastic or carpet. The plastic should be opaque black and the heavier the gauge the better because it will exclude the most light and will last longer.

Cutting and covering

Plastic will need to be weighted down or pushed into the ground. Push the spade in and pull it back towards you. Push about 15cm/6in of the poly in, using a thin piece of board (the spade would split it) and push the soil back with your foot. If you do this along each side it will prevent the wind from lifting it up.

Carpet will need to be weighted down with wood or soil. Use hessian-backed carpet rather than foam-backed because the latter will disintegrate into the soil. Or Use a thick layer of hay or straw. Once it has been damped down by the first shower of rain it will not blow away. Though using hay risks introducing grass and weed seeds, if the layer is thick enough they will not germinate under the hay and when it is first removed the ground can be left for the first flush of seeds to germinate and be hoed off.

Or To combine the best of both systems, first cover the soil with thick cardboard. This can be collected free from shops if you check what morning they put out their packaging for the dustmen. Add a thick layer of hay or straw. Then you can make planting holes through all the layers and the whole covering can be left in place around the growing plants to gradually rot down.

Some gardeners keep a permanent covering of straw on their soil, only drawing it aside for seed sowing, and never dig at all. Others apply a regular layer of compost, simply spread upon the surface and left for the worms to incorporate.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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