Applying Permaculture To Plot 163b
PLot 163b is a 5 pole local authority allotment, in the suburban setting of Hertford. We are working towards becoming a full LAND centre through the Permaculture Association UK. Here we tell you the methods and techniques we are using at 163b and how we are applying permaculture design, to meet the needs of humans and wildlife, creating a beneficial relationship.
Our aim is to show how these methods can be applied on small scale areas, helping to reduce the overwhelm that can come when takening on an allotment or starting a garden from scratch.
We are Desiging From Patterns To Details and taking inspiration from Wishtree,
our previous 5 acre, Permaculture demonstration site.
Potatoes and Sheet Mulching
The main low maintenance method we use to keep the weeds and grass down, and prepare beds, is sheet mulching. This means laying recycled cardboard down on the grass or weeds, and covering with organic material such as grass clippings, straw or peat free or homemade, compost. We can then either plant directly into this, straight away or wait till we are ready to use the bed. The sheet mulching lasts for several months, which make this method a very good stress free method of 'weeding', helping to build soil in the process.
The worms will eat the cardboard and the mice and tiny bugs will turn the soil, under the cardboard, helping the worms and aerating the soil. This is a no dig method. We are not disturbing the soil life and helping to keep the mycelium web connected and carbon in the ground.
So where do the potatoes come in ? Sheet mulching is a fun, easy way to grow potatoes, and Obtain A Yeild of food. You don't need to mound up the soil. Just place the cardbaord on the ground, place seed potatoes at intervals along the cardbaord and cover with your choice of organic material. We used straw from the local petshop, as it was the resource most availalbe at the time. As the leaves start to emerge, mound up with more organic material till they are ready to harvest. The unwanted potato stems then become mulch themselves.
The main function for sheet mulching was to reduce our work load and save time, by Working With Nature and using this quick method, to suppress weeds and grass. The potatoes were a bonus. We had a small yeild of 3 variaties which gave us approximtely 4 meals, some we still have (Oct 30th), harvested in July and August.