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The Gardener's Year


The April showers are softening the soil - it is time to prepare your border for planting says Lucia Latenstein. Being a lazy gardener, she shares her secret to no more digging...

The preparation has been done - the lists of suitable plants for Burgundy's soil have been drawn up (see and ) and in we made a planting plan. The plants have been ordered and now it is time to prepare the ground in readiness.

If you already have a plant bed, nourish the soil with 3-5 cm of compost. Making a new bed is much harder work. Traditionally you dig the soil of your border and get rid of all the bad roots. We have very heavy clay soil here in Burgundy and I’m a lazy gardener. So I tried different things to avoid digging. The first experiment was not a success however. I covered the border with black plastic for a half year, hoping that all the weeds would die. It didn’t work - there was still a lot of bindweed which is terrible stuff. Maybe half a year was too short, but I didn’t want to wait longer so I tried something else.

Last year I had a lot of dahlia tubers to plant so I mowed the lawn as short as possible and I made an edging with logs. I went to the local ‘décheterie’ (dump) and got lots of old cardboard boxes (plain ones). I removed any stickers and tape etc… Having covered the area with the flattened cartons, I added 15 cm of soil on top in which I planted all the tubers. The surface was then covered with wood chips. It worked wonderfully! The wood chips kept the weeds away and the soil moist. At the end of the season the cardboard was gone and so were the weeds under it. Of course there were some weeds (weeds from seeds flying in) but they could be easily controlled. The cardboard method is suitable for perennials, tubers, or vegetables, anything in fact.

I live in Burgundy at Le Pontot in Fontenille, near Brosses and am able to supply plants of your choosing.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss and make an order for collection at our ‘Dahlia and Perennials Market’ April 18-21.

Next month: Arranging and planting

©Lucia Latenstein
Hameau de Fontenille
19, Rue du Ponceau
+33(0) 386 18 19 44 +33(0) 6 4015 4793