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Cardboard box, do you put mulch over or under

AmphibiosAmphibios LondonshirePosts: 158
Hello Everyone, 
I gardened for the 1st time today and was truly humbled. 

It too me approximately 3 hours to clear the area under the cardboard - in the foreground you can see that the weeds aren’t exactly densely covering the ground. 
The soil is most definitely clay. Claggy, actual clay - it’s not until you actually work with it that I felt the putty like texture  :open_mouth:
I have a couple of questions please apologies will be very basic: 
1) I saw a video where someone just raked the little weedlings I have away with a rake. Is the reason I couldn’t do this because the clay clings to the weeds or was I doing it wrong? 
2) I Have been taking out those weeds with the massive root - is it worth doing it properly or could I just cover them over with cardboard? 
3) I reckon I’m going to weed and clear out the back part of my garden and cover it over until next year most likely or winter. The earth feels rich but it’s clay! I will save some money and get compost  - do I put this over the cardboard or under? Will I need to turn the compost into the soil then cover? 
4) when I turn over the soil should I not walk on it ever? Will it make the clay denser? 

Thanks so much for reading, a dandelion will never look the same to me again. 

Ax
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  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,201
    Congratulations! I hope your gardening soon becomes more fun than today! You can't rake weeds out of heavy, compacted soil. I would be inclined to dig yours, turning it over to expose perennial weed roots and pulling them out. I would add composted stable or cow muck, as much as possible, and coarse grit to improve the texture and drainage. I have never used cardboard - someone else will have and will doubtless comment soon.
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    From the interweb :

    "To clear a growing area of weeds, here's how:

    The aim here is to exclude the light so weeds can't grow. So you need a combination of a sheet covering and a thick, deep layer of mulch. For the sheet covering, you can use layers of cardboard (which will degrade into the soil), or a thick membrane such as Mypex. Many prefer not to use plastic, and we advise to be wary of carpet as some dyes and mothproofing chemicals can be toxic. The deep layer of mulch can be half rotted compost, manure, leaves, grass mowings – or even a mix of them all, so long as it is more than 15 cms thick. There are two schools of thought whether the mulch goes under or over the sheeting. If under, then it will rot down and create a wonderful, friable soil texture which is not only rich but allows weed roots, such as bindweed, to be pulled out easily. If it is over the sheet, it has the benefit of keeping the sheeting in place. Both methods will make sure that absolutely no light can penetrate down into the soil. Be patient! It can take up to a year to completely weaken the weeds, especially those with deep and extensive roots like bindweed, dock and bramble. When it's ready and weed free, remove the sheet and the soil will be ready for planting."

    For further information on the No Dig process visit <a href="http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/">http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/</a><br>


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 15,853
    edited March 2019
    I would fork the obvious dandelion roots out, extracting as much root as you can. Just chopping the top off will not kill it. Covering it will just blanch it, although you could then eat it.  Annual weeds can just be hoed off.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    I would fork the obvious dandelion roots out, extracting as much root as you can.
    I chased a dandelion root down once - I got to three feet deep and then, at the last gasp, the damn thing snapped!
  • AmphibiosAmphibios LondonshirePosts: 158
    Many thanks for the replies. 

    I think what was confusing me was That I was reading about mulch/compost on top of the cardboard. I didn’t know how it could improve the soil because the earthworms wouldn’t be able to reach it. 

    Also how would you then stop the mulch getting full of weeds  :#

    I will put it under the cardboard the cardboard as soon as I have a the opportunity, hopefully this will mean by the time I get round to using it there will be some improvement. 

    Ax
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,201
    I think you will have to accept that weeds will ALWAYS be with us and will appear in almost any medium and every area. Once your soil is in good condition you may be best to develop a sort of Zen approach. Think of weeding as a time of contemplation and peace as you commune with Nature...
  • SlumSlum Posts: 350
    Have a look at Charles Dowding’s YouTube channel for advice on creating no big beds.
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 5,586
    I garden on clay and would recommend you dig out all deep-rooted perennial weeds, in fact dig it all over and remove everthing insofar as thats possible first  - I covered one section with a thick black butyl liner, weighed down, and another with several layers of thick cardboard as an experiment. Eighteen months later it still hadn’t killed off the persistent b*ggers! Once you have it mostly weed-free, you can hoe off the annuals and dig out any perennial weeds that pop up with a long thin weeding trowel, getting right down to the final bit of the root if you can. Its a long process but you will eventually get it to the stage where its manageable.
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Brittany, France Posts: 3,445
    I chased a dandelion root down once - I got to three feet deep and then, at the last gasp, the damn thing snapped!
    A 3 feet long dandelion taproot (that's 91 centimetres in the International System of Units) seems really a lot to me. Was that in the wild or in a garden? A solitary specimen? Did you send the photo to http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/ ? Are you sure it was a dandelion or a related species? ;)

    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    Papi Jo said:
    I chased a dandelion root down once - I got to three feet deep and then, at the last gasp, the damn thing snapped!
    A 3 feet long dandelion taproot (that's 91 centimetres in the International System of Units) seems really a lot to me. Was that in the wild or in a garden? A solitary specimen? Did you send the photo to http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/ ? Are you sure it was a dandelion or a related species? ;)

    It certainly looked like a dandelion! It was in a deep bed I'd dug behind a pond (I was young and had a strong back then), so there was a lot of good soil in what was otherwise a heavy clay garden. So perhaps very easy for the root to keep going on down?
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