Last fall we used fully extended teeth of a box blade to tear up a 75′ X 50′ plot to expand our current growing space. It’s spring now and we decided to proactively smother the weeds before they take control of the bed. The standard is to cover the ground with black plastic and let the sun beat down for a minimum of 3 weeks before you finally prep the beds for planting.
There are many options to cover and smother weeds but we decided to go cheap and get thick black plastic rolls from the local hardware store. It ended up being more trouble than benefit. First, the wind easily picked up the plastic. We had to dig around the property for logs and rocks to hold it down. The strips were narrow enough that we had to lay down multiple pieces which increased the winds capability of lifting the plastic.
It was almost comical watching us trying to stretch and lay the rolls down in the wind, throwing whatever was around us on top of the plastic to keep it down. It became a routine every evening, straightening the plastic out again. Although we had some success it wasn’t as devastating to the weeds as we had hoped.
What did we learn from this? Spend the money and buy the agricultural tarps. They will be worth it!
Yikes! It’s a perennial explosion! The planting beds are booming with perennials and of course weeds. How do you find the time with so many beds and the plants growing at an alarming rate?
I have a couple tricks. I start at one end and slowly work my way around to the other end. Even if I have to stop, I’ll just pick up where I left off when I can. Having a job, it can sometimes take days to complete, but it always eventually gets done. I don’t get really technical with my technique. I just pull up the weeds as fast as possible, even if I leave a few roots, and then I drop them in piles back on top of the soil. No throwing out weeds in the garbage, and no need to purchase store bought mulch. The pile of yanked up weeds will act like a mulch that will smother upcoming weeds underneath. It also adds more organic matter to the soil. Most of my weeds are grass so it really makes a great mulch.
The soil in the garden hadn’t been managed for the 5 year so the bed was overcome by weeds including the dreaded bindweed and thistle. There were many other varieties popping up, including the prairie grass we were depending on for our future fodder, but didn’t want it in our vegetable plot! I committed to be an organic gardener so spend 1-2 hours daily just pulling weeds! I bought a new rototiller, but didn’t plan the garden rows far enough apart to accommodate it. Live and learn! The weeds kept coming back so I needed to come up with a solution for next year. I took an Advanced Vegetable Gardening class at the Botanic Gardens and came up with my plan for next year. I planted a fall cover crop and plan to do a spring cover crop next month. I’m going to create wider rows so the plants are closer together and will use our cut prairie grass for mulch. While I love using the rototiller, I’m told it’s hard on the beneficial bacteria in the soil. I plan to use it minimally this next season. I’ll let you know how it works!