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default Should I worry about - nylon strimmer line ?

Post by Chilli-head on 22nd October 2018, 2:28 pm

I have, for many years, kept my allotment paths covered with a thick layer of wood chip, which came for free from a local tree surgeon. Usefully it serves as an in-situ composting system; after a few years the wood chip has rotted, and mixed with soil off my boots to make quite a useful mulch.

Trouble is, the supply is drying up. Decent hardwood chip goes off the power stations for use as bio-fuel, leaving me with just shredded leylandii mostly. But even for that, my source is getting unreliable.

Right. Coming to the point ... the other option lots of people use for allotment paths is grass, just cutting it with a strimmer. I thought to go that way, but what about the micro-plastic pollution caused by the strimmer line ? This nylon cord is constantly fed, and trimmed to length by a little blade, thus spraying pulverised nylon into the environment. Where it doesn't degrade any time soon.

The areas in question are too small for scything, and similarly not really practical for a lawnmower. Shears is doable, but very slow and need frequent sharpening through finding stones etc.

Am a worrying too much ?
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Post by Dandelion on 22nd October 2018, 9:00 pm

I had no idea that strimmers worked like that (never having owned one). I don't think you're worrying too much - you want to live according to your principles. Presumably you use too many bark chips to make buying them prohibitive?

The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by freebird on 23rd October 2018, 12:48 pm

I probably don't have as much pathway as you, CH, but personally I would NEVER go back to grass paths. I cleared them as part of my no-dig regime, which has stopped any grass/weed encroaching on the plots. I just have bare soil that I walk on. The compost from the beds tends to partially fall over the paths, which is fine - helps keep them weed free, and I hoe any emerging weeds. I've done this for two seasons now and wouldn't change.

If the are very weedy to start with, I do put down either a strip of carpet or thick cardboard.

It doesn't answer the strimmer question, but I think it is not only possible, but desirable, to do without.

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Post by Ploshkin on 23rd October 2018, 9:28 pm

I've ended up with bare earth paths between my beds. I started with woven ground cover membrane with woodchip on top, then like CH found woodchip hard to get. I then had just the bare membrane but found that the weeds root through it so pulled it up. My paths do get weedy but that's because I don't get to hoe them when necessary. However they are no more weedy than they've been with coverings. One thing I would never use again is carpet. I put down carpet to suppress weeds before I installed my bee hives and all it did was provide a perfect root run for nettles which have dogged the area ever since.

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Post by Chilli-head on 29th October 2018, 3:01 pm

Thanks for your comments. I did have my hesitations about grass paths constantly invading the beds. That thought, combined with the need to (a) buying a cordless strimmer and (b) feel guilty about the plastic line makes me re-think.

I liked the wood chip because my clay soil becomes very slithery and messy in winter if the paths are left bare. Perhaps I'll look around for an alternative source. Even if I have to pay for it at a similar price to manure, it would take a good many years for it to cost more than the strimmer !

As an aside, I am amused by the range of different systems that can be made to work by some gardeners for their particular circumstance. I took over my allotment as a bare, rotivated rectangle of ground. I went for Geoff Hamilton style "deep beds". As distinct to "raised beds", these are double dug, incorporating manure with the idea of creating a deep soil, though not intentionally raised. Along with that, like with raised beds, goes the notion that it is best never to walk on the bed, so I established 4' beds with paths between. I used landscaping fabric under woodchip for the paths.

Although it sort of worked, I have found a few downsides to this system ... you turn over a lot of ground to paths, that need maintaining. The paths become very compacted, so the deep beds become a sump for rain water which can't drain away sideways so easily. The landscaping fabric inevitably gets caught up in your digging and hoeing, and also creates a nice moist layer below for the horse tails to run riot.

I have now eliminated about half of the paths, because of the drainage problems and it being harder to weed compacted ground than the beds. I don't worry too much about walking on them, as without the paths, walking doesn't concentrate the compaction in one area. Controlling my horse tails be loosening them with a fork helps to loosen the soil too. I've also given up on double digging as far too much like hard work, and feel more drawn towards the no dig methods. Quite a long way from where I started !
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