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How best to handle cardboard laid down now?

Posted by alisande Zone 4b (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 20, 14 at 15:05

I want to grow squash and beans in an area that was thickly covered in tall weeds last year. My intention was to lay down cardboard in the fall, but that never happened. So I'm putting it down now.

It looks awfully bare and raw, which it is, and I wonder what I can do do make it most effective. Our snow has melted only recently, so I'm a long way from being able to cover it with grass clippings.

Should I attempt to keep it wet, or at least water it on some sort of regular basis? Or just make sure it's weighed down with rocks and logs, and hope for the best?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How best to handle cardboard laid down now?

Hi, If your planning on planting there this summer, i wouldn't use cardboard. Cardboard takes a very long time to breakdown. I'd suggest several layers of newspaper, then some compost, and some mulch. Using these together will help keep your weed seeds from coming up, and allow you to plant this season.

RE: How best to handle cardboard laid down now?

I agree...about the newspaper. I was able to get away with putting in an ornamental bed last summer that I started from cardboard in the spring, but that's here in zone 7 with heat and humidity starting early. Between the heat and the gazillion earthworms, corrugated breaks down quite quickly. In zone 4, I imagine it would be a much longer process.

But to answer more directly, yes, definitely keep it wet and covered with good organically material to get the ball rolling! Either way, though, expect weeds to come through. It's not foolproof! :)

RE: How best to handle cardboard laid down now?

Good advice about the newspaper, but it's too late! I knocked myself out obtaining the cardboard and getting it in place. I think it'll work out okay, though because most of the winter squashes are vining, and the beans are going to be grown vertically, on an arch.

We can open up spots for the squash hills as well as the base of the arch for planting beans. Meanwhile, I'll start watering the cardboard and see if I can conjure up some earthworms.

Thank you!

RE: How best to handle cardboard laid down now?

I did the same yesterday but with newspaper, put 3 inches of soil/compost and 3 inches of mulch over it, keep it wet should be ready for June planting.

RE: How best to handle cardboard laid down now?

1 layer of cardboard is the same thing as several layers of newspaper.
Since you have no grass clippings, yet, what else do you have to cover the cardboard? Keep in mind that the primary purpose of the cardboard or newspaper is to block access to sunlight of the unwanted plants which will keep those unwanted plants from growing. Punching holes in the cardboard to plant want you want to grow will be no more nor no less a problem then it would be in several layers of newspaper.

RE: How best to handle cardboard laid down now?

It does seem like there are a couple of different conversations going on here.

What is the purpose of putting down the cardboard? If it is for weed smothering, cardboard is a lot more effective than many layers of newspaper because it breaks down more slowly. The only reasons to put something on it are for looks, and so the cardboard doesn't take off on its own into uncharted spaces. No reason to deliberately keep it wet. If it breaks down too soon, it won't be doing the job of suppressing weeds.

If the cardboard is supposed to be the bottom layer of a lasagna garden, that's a very different issue. Even though it seems to me that most people who talk about doing lasagna are really doing a relatively thin layer of sheet composting. A layer of grass clippings on top of some cardboard isn't all that much.

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