Plastic Mulch

fish042099August 15, 2014

Do you have to remove plastic mulch after the season is over? I have a half acre farm and don't have room/ that much need for a tractor so I hand lay plastic mulch. It is very involved to say the least, and takes me an hour to lay 10' of it. I hear you have to remove it after the season is over. I really don't want to go to this trouble again, every year. Do you REALLY have to take it out? Or is this just a precautionary measure.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It is normally removed so that soil underneath can be amended. Real difficult to do the necessary soil improvement/amending during the off-season with plastic in place, not to mention it makes tilling impossible. :)


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:46PM
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Thanks dig dirt for you response. So really the only negative outcome would be the fact that the soil is not tilled? Maybe i could plant carrots or some other soil tilling root at the beginning of the season

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 3:59PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No, the primary negative outcome would be that the soil wouldn't get any care, wouldn't get amended, that the used nutrients wouldn't be replaced, and that the decomposed organic matter and beneficial soil bacteria needed by the plant roots wouldn't be replaced. That has season long negative affects and is compounded season after season.

The tilling or lack thereof is only a secondary consideration.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:47PM
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I avoid ANY mulch that will not rot down and become part of the soil underneath. A plastic mulch just keeps you from adding compost, organic matter, shredded leaves, etc. If things are so bad that I feel I need a barrier type of mulch, I use newspapers or cardboard, that will rot down in time. My very best defense against weeds is a good covering of plant-based mulch. In my case, I use lots of ground up leaves, that my neighbors all bag up and put on the curb, where I can easily pick them up and carry them to my house. When weeds poke through, the entire soil/mulch medium it is growing in makes it easy to pull out. I spend very little time focused on weeding my garden beds, and I have a lot of them, but I will pull out the few I see as I'm wandering through my yard, harvesting, or doing other garden tasks. It is great not having to obsess about spending time weeding. By the way, I am in a newly built house that I moved into a little over a year ago, and the whole lot was in weeds before they started on the house.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 4:28PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I use lots of plastic mulch and leave it down if possible. the paths are permanent and stay down and just get more on top when they are holey. Most of the beds need to be replaced with fresh but I am trying to leave the cucurbit area and have that be potatoes and sweet potatoes next year without anything done. I use drip tape.

A lot of people think plastic mulch isn't organic but Jere Gettle uses it! I tend 22000 sq feet and need that mulch to be able to produce that much food and not spend 100 hours per week weeding.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 9:01PM
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There are biodegradable plastic mulches available but be aware that they often start to degrade before the season ends.

I agree of the importance of incorporating nutrients back into the soil. You can leave the plastic in place up to the time to renovate- I find it easier to pull up in the spring when vegetation has dried up and degraded a bit. It is just part of my farming routine that often takes less than 4 hours for me to accomplish and I lay (with tractor) over a mile of the stuff.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:17AM
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