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Re: Misplaced Plants in the Garden

Thanks Jon for the response.  We use leaf mulch extensively in the garden.  This year, we probably used 5 dump truckloads on the garden averaging about 3 to 5" deep.  

The problem is...  the mulch we use is nearly composted.  Next year, I believe we can eliminate alot of the weeds by using a true leaf mulch instead of a composted type.  This would create a weed barrier instead of a planting bed.  I believe this is our main problem.

We do not have the resources to continuing lay down a layer of mulch around our plantings on a weekly basis.  Once the garden harvest comes in, our resources are mainly dedicated to picking vegetables.

My garden buddy just informed me that we can buy rolls of newsprint from our local newspaper.  Between using 3 to 4 sheets of newsprint (per row) and using a true "leaf" mulch, we should be in good shape next year.  

Thanks for everybody's advice,   Jim 

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Jon Rowley" <rowley@nwlink.com>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 07:33:08 -0700

>Weeds cover naked soil, an important ecological role.  You can eliminate weeds by simply depriving them of a reason to be by eliminating naked soil. If you can see naked soil in your garden, you are inviting weeds. Newspaper mulches have been mentioned.  They work but let me suggest three better approaches:  mulch, mulch and more mulch.  Mulch everywhere, always.  Consider naked soil, not weeds, the enemy. Mulching with organic materials like pulled weeds, grass clippings, garden debris, coffee grounds, spent grain, etc is also a way of composting in place so you are preventing weeds, saving water (mulching can cut back water use by 75%),  feeding soil, and creating pathogen and pest-inhibiting biodiversity. 
> After planting, when your intended garden plants demonstrate that they have established roots by putting out true leaves, you can put down a layer of mulch around them.  Add a layer weekly and weed seeds (always present) can't germinate.  You have literally smothered them.  Every time you add a mulch layer it helps the layers underneath decompose.  By the time your tomatoes or cabbages need to start heavy feeding your mulches have added new energy-supplying humus.
>If the above approach seems counter-intuitive, pick up one of Ruth Stout's books (it doesn't matter which one; they are all about the same thing).  She was a big advocate of straw mulches for weed control, water retention  and feeding soil.
>Mulching is a simple, effective approach to a weedless garden.  Don't forget to lay your weeds back down after pulling them. They've robbed nutrients in your soil which is best returned. Don't worry about weed seeds; we aren't going to give them a chance to germinate.  Weeds be gone...poof!
>This year, because of the abnormal amount of rainfall we are experiencing, we seem to have an abundance
>of misplaced plants, a.k.a. weeds in our garden.
>Before spring planting next year, I am determined to resolve this issue. 
>Our garden has about 2000' ft of planted rows. 
>Here are some of my options:
>A -- Use newspaper (sections).
>        Pro: No cost.  Promotes recycling in the garden.
>               Can be tilled in after season.
>       Con: Very labor intensive.
>B--   Use commercial grade (25 year) landscape fabric
>        Pro:  Easy to roll out, can be used year after year.
>        Con: Costly.  
>C--  Rolled heavy duty brown wrapping paper.
>        Pro: Easy to roll out, can be tilled in after season.
>        Con: Haven't determined cost yet.
>I will not use:
>Broken up cardboard boxes.
>    Pro: Easy to acquire
>    Con: Too labor extensive to prepare and install.
>            Not sure if it will degrade enough to till in after season. 
>Plastic in any form.
>Option B can accomplished via donations to purchase landscape fabric. 
>If I go with Option A, I will have volunteers paper tape each section together prior
>to Plant Day (this is the option I am leaning toward). 
>By properly laying down this weed barrier and leaf mulch, I can eliminate many 
>hours required to remove the weeds within the rows. Our volunteers love to harvest, but 
>weeding is not at the top of the list of enjoyable tasks.  Such is gardening. 
>Actually, most of our volunteers do not own a hoe or know how to use one.
>When I first moved to Huntsville, Alabama, within the first week, I witnessed two
>strange events. 
>While checking out at a 7-11. a guy with pocket protector actually pulled out
>a slide rule to calculate his purchase.
>A few days later, I noticed the neighborhood news delivery kid was throwing newspapers from
>the passenger seat of a Corvette driven by his mother.
>I thought, what planet did I land on?
>Thanks for any input to the weed barrier options,
>Jim Call, CASA Community Garden Volunteer Dir.
>             www.casagarden.com

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