Today I dug in the ground cover for a 7m x 11m willow bed. It took two hours to dig the edge of the sheet in. The sheet cost £30. I spent an hour or two clearing the land of bits of debris and weeds yesterday. The cover is silage sheet. This will suppress weeds and allow the willow to get established. Watering will not be a problem, if there is a lovely hot, dry spell the plastic will create condensation and the young cuttings will get by with that. I will string out the rows for planting tomorrow at roughly 1 metre apart. The fast growing viminalis for sculptures and structures will go to the north eastern end of the bed and each plant will be spaced at 1 metre intervals along the row. I will only plant two rows of this as I have planted some elsewhere. The other rows will consist of Black Maul, Flanders Red both are top basketry willows that do well in this location..thrive in fact, especially the FL. I have only a little Dark Dicks and Green Dicks so I hope to have a few rows of each all from my own two year old plants. Though they are not as bountiful as the other two I love them and want to grow as much of them as I can. All these cuttings will be spaced at 30cm intervals along each row. The taller varieties at the far side and the shorter ones on the south west. There is a problem with wind from the river so I will plant a windbreak with something taller to help protect them from it and then place plenty of heavy lumps of wood or old tyres between the rows to stop the wind lifting the sheet and scratching the cuttings.
Planting began today and I have measured out fourteen rows. So far I have two rows each of Flanders Red, Green Dicks and Dark Dicks in. I only had a couple of hours available to work on it so will finish the planting at the weekend. The FL was spaced at 30cm between cuttings whilst the other two I spaced at 25cm plus their rows where closer together at 30 inches. If you are going to plant cut a measuring stick to gauge accurate spacing and that you can use to pierce the sheet and make a hole for your cutting to go into easily. Make sure you put the cutting in the right way up! I spent a bit of the time foraging around the allotments and undergrowth looking for lumps of wood to keep the sheet from lifting, you really need to put plenty of weights on it especially in the first year or two.