How to plant your cuttings.

I grow the willow through weed suppressant membrane. It does not exclude all weed growth, but gives the cuttings a good start as they are not competing with grass and other plants. Weeds will grow, some through the planting holes and some on the membrane itself but the membrane does make weeding between the stools easier.

I do nothing to prepare the ground, except make sure the grass is short, we use donkeys for this as they are more appealing than a lawnmower or strimmer. I then fence the area the keep the donkeys out, they like few things better to eat than willow. Then I cover the ground with the membrane and weigh it down.

I stab a small hole in the membrane and push the cutting through to more than half its length. I use a spacing of one foot in rows every 2 foot. I push the cuttings in at alternate angles, this helps anchor the membrane. I also secure it again as often as I can. The only cuttings I have lost have been where the membrane has risen up and the cutting has ended underneath or all the emergent leaves have rubbed off. I have been told that infilling with cuttings where your first cuttings have not taken is less successful because of the vigorous root system of the willow. Nevertheless I seem to have been successful with infilling after one year.

I use stones, bricks or slates to weigh down the membrane, or home made ground staples. These I make out of short lengths of old fencing wire. After planting I regularly check on the membrane to see if it is rising up anywhere and add extra staples, stones etc.

Then I wait and ...