But there are other ways to deal with it. The mulch which is made from this practise has many benefits by returning the to the plants the nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, boron, calcium, all of which are provided by fertilisers are now available to your plants free of charge by the wonders of recycling your plant material to the soil in situ. Cutting it small you could have carried out an ancient practise called chop & drop. This creates a mulch and helps to conserve water, encourage soil life mimicking a forest floor. It suffocates the unwanted plants in that situation helping you to not use a range of chemical treatments and in the longer-term creating soil.
Can all plants be used?
Short answer is yes, they can, including your weeds. However, there are a few things to take note off before you get too excited.
Plants NOT to use. This group of plants contain allelopathic substance, which have an herbicide effect. Some examples of these are black walnut from bark to leaves, sugar maple, hackberry, American sycamore, eucalyptus.
Best plants are those which may be termed Dynamic Accumulators. So, what is a Dynamic Accumulator? These are a group of plants often referred to as deep rooted which are known to contain for extracting minerals and nutrients from the soil and sub soil in your garden, thus making these elements available to the shallower rooted plants they live with. Is this scientifically proven, no but the concept has been under a series of constant trial by gardeners for generations and the positive results encouraging the latter generation of gardeners to continue the tradition. For me I do not require scientific evidence on this topic and will continue using it.
A good portion of these plants are considered weeds by todays opinion others are recognisable as everyday herbs, however, but back in history they had other uses from food to medicine and in my opinion should not be quickly dismissed. Plants like Pigface, Borage, Chickweed, Feverfew as Oregano, Dandelion, Jerusalem Artichoke, or Rhubarb are included in this list.
The full list can be downloaded here.
Tricks to using plants
Growing Autumn Winter Vegetables
Autumn is a great time of the year to plant those vegetables and herbs that love cooler conditions. These will be ready to harvest throughout Winter and Spring, providing fresh produce and ingredients for your home.
Autumn and Winter vegetables to plant
The following are some of the key considerations for growing vegetables through Autumn & Winter.
Sunlight is very important for all vegetables – fruiting and flowering vegetables require the most whilst leafy and root vegetables require less. Remember that the sun is lower in its path across the sky in Winter, resulting in an increased amount of shade, especially if your garden has trees or high structures around it. Therefore, position your Winter garden in the sunniest section of your property, as long as it is not exposed to high winds or frost. If your garden gets very little Winter sunlight, focus on growing leafy vegetables such as Lettuce, Spinach and Pak Choi, and root vegetables such as Onions and Parsnip.
Frost has a critical impact on most plants, especially young ones that are fragile to temperature extremes. If you live in a climate with regular frost, ensure plants are established early so they can tolerate the temperature changes better. Some vegetables can tolerate a bit of frost and for some it even improves the taste, for example, Snow Pea and Parsnip.
Timing your planting
Getting your plants underway early before the cold weather sets in can help with increasing their robustness to cope with temperature extremes. However, beware of warmer season pests such as caterpillars and snails.
It is important to recognise the full growing period of your plants. Consider what the weather conditions are from planting the seed to expected harvest. Some of the leafy vegetables are ready for harvest in as little as 6 weeks, while some root vegetables can take 18 weeks to mature. Check the seed packet for further details.
Minimum Soil Temperatures for Seed Sowing and Germination:
The ideal or optimal soil temperature for planting and growing
most vegetables is 18°C to 24°C.
Pests and diseases
There are fewer pests and diseases in the cooler part of the year, giving you much needed relief from constant pest control. However, continue to ensure good air circulation through adequate spacing to minimise growth of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, and avoid watering the leaves of the plants as trapped moisture will harbour diseases.
Another advantage of growing in Winter is that less watering is needed due to lower evaporation rate. You may only need to water your plants during longer dry spells. Feed your plants with organic matter such as manure, fish or seaweed solution every few weeks to encourage rapid growth and maximise your crop.
Once you have harvested your garden look to plant green manure crop which will improve the soil structure and nutrient levels prior to your Spring sowing. Dig them into the soil when mature to provide nitrogen and organic matter as they rot.
Many gardeners pass up growing potatoes because they think they do not have enough room to grow these vigorous plants. The good news is, if you have room for a hay bale, you can grow potatoes in your own backyard with little effort.
Position the hay bales in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Full day sun is preferred. Because the potatoes grow inside the hay bale, the bale can be positioned in areas where the soil is unsuitable for gardening or even on top of paved areas. However, water does drain from the bottom of the bale, so choose an area where this is not an issue.
Prep the Bales
Saturate the hay or straw bales with water until it runs freely from the bottom of the bale. Repeat this procedure on days two and three. On the fourth day, sprinkle 1 cup of bone meal over the top of the bales and water thoroughly. Repeat the procedure for days five and six. On days seven, eight and nine, reduce the bone meal to ½ cup and water as usual. On day ten, sprinkle the bales with ½ to 1 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer and water thoroughly. This speeds the decomposition process inside the hay bale and creates rich compost for growing.
Check the Bales
Make holes in the hay bale by gently pulling the layers of hay open. Check that the inside of the bale is warm, but not hot. During decomposition, the insides heat as they begin to break down, but it should have cooled off by day 10. If the center feels hot to the touch, wait another day or two before planting the potatoes
Plant the Potatoes
Cut the potatoes in two or more sections with at least two eyes on each section. Place the cut potatoes inside the bale to a depth of 250 mm spaced 150 – 300 mm apart along the hay bale. Typically, four potato plants fit in one bale. Close the hay over the potatoes.
Water thoroughly until water runs freely from the bottom of the hay bale. The hay bales must be kept moist and may require daily watering. Running a soaker hose over the top or filling milk cartons with water and punching small holes in the bottom for water to drip onto the bales works well.
Apply water-soluble fertilizer designed for garden vegetables once a week. Because nutrients leach from the bottom of the hay bale, regular fertilizer is necessary to provide growing potato plants with the nutrients they need.
Check for "new potatoes" once the potato plants bloom. Gently pull back the layers of hay and harvest young potatoes. Close the layers and allow small potatoes to continue to grow. Harvest mature potatoes in the fall once foliage dies back.
Potatoes grown in hay bales a clean and free of soil, but the best part is the ability to harvest tender new potatoes as soon as they "set on" without disturbing the roots of the plants.