weed block

jessejrAugust 11, 2009

This year I used gypsum to acidify my clay soil as directed by the local garden shop then added top soil and finally added Miracle Gro Garden Soil. Then I lay down a black plastic WEED BLOCK*. this not only solarizes the underlying garden soil but truly does keep wees out.

The main problem, however, is that I am not able to sufficiently water my veggies.I found that I have had to pull it off my WEED BLOCK to allow for sufficient watering of veggies.

Has anyone else had similar problems with WEED BLOCK the product??

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

Laying out soaker hoses under it or installing a drip irrigation system is the usual recommendations.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 12:30AM
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makete(U.P. of Mi.)

I have found that the weed block has to contact the soil under it to allow the water to pass thru. It will go slow but will pass thru.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 10:51AM
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justaguy2(5)

I don't recommend the use of weed blockers in the garden for a number of reasons, but you experienced one of them. They aren't all that great at letting water through. As Dave suggested, soaker hoses underneath take care of that problem.

The other problem that I have had with them is if I use the thin, woven, fabric types they simply tear easily and weeds can go right through them. The heavier stuff is better at this, but fertilizing and watering become a pain and weed still grow under it and peak out wherever a hole or slit was cut for a plant.

A solution to this is pile on an organic mulch over the weed block, but the question has to be asked: If one is going to pile on an organic mulch anyway, what beneficial purpose does the weed block serve? LOL

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:17AM
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denninmi(8a)

Use black plastic next time, the 6 mil stuff from the hardware store. Before you lay it down, take a power drill with a 1/8th inch bit, and drill a number of rows of holes right through the entire roll of plastic, about 3 inches apart in both directions. When you unroll it, you'll have a beautiful network of holes for the rain to pass through, yet you'll find that they're still small enough that virtually no weeds will grow through the holes -- on a 100 x 100 foot garden, when I do this, I might get a dozen little weeds making it up through the many tens of thousands of holes.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 11:20AM
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rachel597(5A ME)

Last year was a disaster for me because of the weeds. So I decided to try the plastic solar mulch this year. I love it!

Did you drill holes in yours? I drilled small holes in my mulch before I unfolded it and laid it on the garden. I ended up laying soaker hoses on top for watering, but will place them under the plastic next year.

Because of the holes I drilled in the solar mulch and the 12-inch opening around each plant, I have an easy time watering. Any time water pooled up on the solar mulch, I poked another hole to let it drain into the soil.

I have also mulched the 12-inch opening with compost to keep the grass and weeds from growing in around the plants. Some weeds do poke up in the holes every now and then, but they are easy to pull.

Rachel
GrafixMuse's Garden Spot

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 7:59PM
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dicot

I have never had a good experience from putting plastic in the ground. I also think the best answer to clay is lots of organic matter, which when added as a mulch, will help slow down the weeds.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 10:15PM
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zuni(5a)

I suggest you try the bio-intensive method of planting (similar to square foot gardening). The vegetables are planted using the recommended spacing between plants in BOTH directions. No rows, and minimal weeding. I really do mean minimal! Plus you save enormously on soil amendments and water.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 10:24PM
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weedlady(Central OH 6)

I must add my voice to those in favor of organic mulches and against any sort of plastic--and Miracle-Gro, too, for that matter. Both products are harmful or downright deadly to soil microorganisms and invertebrates and these are the guys that really are helping to produce (from organic matter in the soil) the nutrients your plants need. Plastic prevents the soil from "breathing" and where I have had to deal with correcting problem beds for others, in removing the plastic mulch the soil under it is compacted and sour-smelling.
As far as using landscape cloth such as WEED BLOCK, it is my personal experience (and I have seen this time & again in many sites) that when weed seeds inevitably blow or are washed into or otherwise deposited in an area covered with such material, the seeds germinate and send their tiny feeder roots down thru the fabric into the soil. If you try to remove these, it is nearly impossible, and many weeds, when roots are left behind, will re-sprout. Now, weed seeds will arrive atop ANY mulch, but at least if/when they germinate in an organic mulch, they may be removed effectively, root & all.

I suppose landscape cloth may have it uses somewhere but I think that for most gardens and gardeners it is a greatly misused and ineffective material. Just my opinion!
My suggestion: thick layers of B&W newsprint covered with whatever local mulch is plentiful & cheap in your area. Over many years this is what has worked wonders in many gardens with which I have been involved.

Here is a link that might be useful: More opinions in GW about WEED BLOCK

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:34AM
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makete(U.P. of Mi.)

Posted by rachel597 5A ME (My Page) on Wed, Aug 12, 09 at 19:59

Last year was a disaster for me because of the weeds. So I decided to try the plastic solar mulch this year. I love it!
Solar mulch? Can you explain it to me?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:49AM
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denninmi(8a)

Weedlady, I agree with you in principal. I really do feel bad when I go out and buy $400 worth of black plastic sheeting at Lowe's or Home Depot, because I know that its made from imported oil.

I am NOT contributing to landfills at this point, because I just keep layering my plastic, new over old, which I find works really well for me. I know that that is just a delusion, because someday, maybe not me, but someone, is going to scrape up all of that old plastic and landfill it.

But, the thing about it is, it's just not possible for me to cover the amount of ground I want to cover with organic mulch. I've been going around spring and fall and gathering bags of leaves from my neighborhood, about 1000 total per year, and using that on my perennial borders, around trees, etc. But, as a very serious gardener with 2.2 acres and not much lawn left, the need for mulch is greater than my ability to gather, process, and use it. So, that leaves me covering close to an acre with black plastic. That seems to be the most practical solution to date for me.

As far as the state of soil under the black plastic, you are correct, it doesn't help it long term. My solution is to pull the plastic back every couple of years, topdress and amend the soil, till, and then put the plastic back. Not an ideal solution, but the best working solution to date for me.

I just wanted to throw that out there as an explanation.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 10:29AM
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rachel597(5A ME)

Posted by makete Mi's U.P.:
Solar mulch? Can you explain it to me?

------

So sorry, I should have explained. I purchased my solar mulch here:
Johnny's Selected Seeds Solar Mulch Search Results

I used Product ID: 9738 and I will be reusing mine for years to come, but they also have one that is biodegradable too (product ID: 9833). It's made from corn starch-based raw material.

Rachel
GrafixMuse's Garden Spot

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:48PM
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henpeckerssociety

First on solarizing:
If you are solarizing, clear plastic is better than black. It allows for the rays to get through and kill the sprouts, exposed roots and seeds. You want a solar oven, not a solar heater - the difference between using clear and black plastic. You may have noticed that when you peel back black plastic, there are still viable weed roots underneath.

Don't use the thickest clear plastic. It will break apart faster. Unfortunate, the process cooks everything and when you are dealing with a weed like bermuda grass, you really want to cook everything. For solarizing you need a small gap between the ground and the clear plastic. Don't forget to water before sealing it all down. You know it is working when all the vegetable mass turns completely brown.

On vegetable weed mamnagement:
I wouldn't use any type of solarizing product too close to my veggie plants. Have you thought of using newspaper, cardboard, or pieces of old jute-based carpet for weed block around your veggie plants? These materials won't make a heat island around your plants like exposed plastic will. They will allow for air and water to get to the roots. Newspaper inks are soy-based, except for some of the colored inks and it won't hurt your ground, yet it will deter the weeds. Newspaper will eventually breakdown. I add it to my poultry litter compost pile when I don't have enough brown material for my compost pile.

Lay newspaper sheets down thickly and wet them to keep them down.

I have had old-timers tell me about using old jute-based carpet. I have seen it work. There is nothing wrong with using recycling materials like this unless your aim was for a pretty, picture perfect-looking garden plot like you see in some magazine or advertisement.

When I started my garden years ago, I put down the very same porous black plastic weed block on the outside perimeter of my garden area. You can forget about it keeping bermuda grass out and Johnson grass will make a joke out of it too. I have had creeping charlie pop through it as well.

However, when you are using this type of black plastic mesh, you need to bury this stuff an inch or two for it to allow water to get through. I suggest to save the black mesh for using around trees and bushes and look into some alternate barrier methods for weed management.

It seems most don't realize there are pros to pulling weeds. It loosens the soil andd allows for more root growth of your veggies. Along with this, the weed releases a chemical message about its survival that the other plants around it pick up. Ever notice how the weeds you missed seem to mature/go to seed faster after you have done some extensive weed pulling? This chemical message is also picked up by your veggies, which this "hurry up and grow" message will help your plants along to producing fruit.

And the biggest pluses of them all ... you got to toned some muscles and burned some extra calories in the process. And then there is this wonderful release of energy to pulling and conquering weeds, especially when you have been stewing for weeks with the urge to bonk that idiot that you have to deal with at work all the time.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 6:58PM
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