sammyd
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Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:31 am
Location: Central WI

mulch choice

Due to our work schedules and amount of garden we have, I was looking into some sort of roll out mulch stuff to help keep down the weeds.
I've looked at different types of spun polyester black stuff and just lately noticed planters paper.
Has anybody worked with either?
Does the paper actually rot down enough to till in in the fall?
How much work is it to roll up the plastic stuff after a season?
Cost isn't really an issue so I'm not too worried about having to replace the paper every year.
Time and ease of use are my main concerns.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Sammy,

I don't know anything about planters paper. I think the spun polyester you are referring to is also called landscape fabric. If so then that is used to keep the soil in place and allow water to filtrate through. It's not a weed barrier per se and would be difficult for planting through. I used it behind a stone wall to keep the soil from filtrating through the wall. I also have used this to wrap french drain pipes to keep the soil from infiltrating.

Since you are talking about tilling I'm thinking that this is a veggie garden. If so you could mulch in the spring and continue to add grass clippings over the season. Use of a scuffle hoe during the season should make it easier for you to eliminate weeds in just a few minutes a week. It severs the top from the roots just below the surface of the soil and is easy to use.


Newt

sammyd
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Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:31 am
Location: Central WI

I love my scuffle hoe.
We don't have much grass clippings as most of the lawn is pasture of some sort.
I have 6 portable bunny hutches I move around twice a day, a chicken tractor I use when the flock gets thinned down and I tether out 2 calves and 2 goats.

Our main garden is perhaps 1/3 of an acre plus a strawberry and raspberry bed.
And in the back I have an acre divided into 6ths that is half in pasture and half in garden or some sort of row crop. With a 6th rotated every year.
So a few minutes a week is not going to cut it.

Our biggest problem is burdock, thistle, and nettles. Most of the ground in the back was horse pasture for years and then left to go wild for a few years.
The burdock will grow through just about anything and the thistles grow through the 8 inches of mulch I lay on the potatoes like it wasn't there.

The black stuff I was looking at is sold in the seed catalogs as a mulch type product and I've seen it at the local hardware stores being sold as such as well. I don't think it's as thick as the stuff used in landscaping applications.

opabinia51
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Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Thistles can be cut back to the ground and then place black and white newspaper over the area where they were and mulch over top of that. I would personally use several layers of newspaper (maybe 4-10 sheets).

The newspaper will slowly break down and add to the soil unlike a polyester (plastic) mulch that will not add to the soil at all and also act as a barrier to existant soil fauna.

The thistle and other roots that are left under the newspaper layer will decay underground and further enrich the soil.

What can actually help (even though I rarely recommend it) is tilling the soil first before applying the mulch. Though, only till once and don't use it as a regular practice as tilling breaks down soil structure and shreds the soil fauna that healthy soils depend on.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Sammy, did you know that goats will eat just about anything, even the nettles? I would definitely recommend that you let them graze the area before you plant. Goats are now being used in many communities to graze on invasive weeds including kudzu.
https://acga.org.au/goatnotes/J001.php

One of my favorite weed killers is vinegar. Yup, you can use the 5% vinegar from your pantry if the weeds are small and young. If you have something as resistant and difficult as burdock or thistle, you may need horticultural vinegar. It's about 15% to 20% acidic. It's non-selective and will kill whatever it splashes on. From this site from Mother Earth News under 'Vinegar vs. Weeds ...'.
When killing broadleaf weeds, regular white vinegar, at 5 percent acidity, works well. Be careful when handling and spraying not to get any of the vinegar in your eyes. Some people experience skin irritation with vinegar too.

The best time to spray is on a windless day, early in the morning — make sure that a hot, sunny day is forecast. I like to use my pressure sprayer with plain vinegar. To spray, cover the leaves of the weed thoroughly and spray the crown of the plant. In about an hour, the leaves should be drooping. By the end of the day the weed leaves will be all shriveled up.

Vinegar doesn't necessarily kill the root of the weed, so reapplication may be necessary. The younger the weed, the easier it will be to kill. For me, vinegar has knocked out Canada thistle, dandelion, plantain and burdock.

JUDY DEPEAL
Walbridge, Ohio
Sometimes [url=https://www.vet.purdue.edu/depts/addl/toxic/plant02.htm]people confuse burdock[/url] with [url=https://www.vet.purdue.edu/depts/addl/toxic/plant32.htm]cocklebur[/url].

This is an interesting Canadian site. I selected a weed. Once you get the recommended list you can click on the Herbicide Reference Links on the right. If you select 'Grazing Restrctions' it explains alot.
https://www.agric.gov.ab.ca/app23/herbsel

Here's a report from Dodge in Lethbridge, AB in July 2006. He used cooking vinegar at 5% acidity.
ok guys so far this is what I've figured out, but first a bit of info about my horses. First my horses have never had vinegar in their diet so they might not be attracted to it for that reason, if you do feed your horse vinegar make sure they arent attracted to whatever you sprayed it on.
Basically I tested burdock plants in several ways

First I just sprayed the leaves and left it for about two days. Within the first 5 hours the leaves I had sprayed were dead and shriveled. Unfortunately the rest of the plant was fine. So that was sorta a no go. Besides the bigger an area you spray the more grass and other growing organisms your going to hit. So for me less exposure and spreading was a big key in my experiment.

So second experiment, I cut the burdock (this one I tried stood about 1 foot and 1/2 tall and had about an inch thick stem base, it was also starting to flower) leaving about 3-4 inches of stem off the ground. (If all I did was cut the burdock like this or to ground level it would grow back and bigger than before) So then I soaked the stem in regular house-hold vinegar, and for fun I dug a mini moat around it and soaked that too. Note this was all done with a spray bottle, not dumping from the container of vinegar. I left if for three days, checking it at least everyday to see the progress. This is what I've come up with so far. In the three days the vinegar has killed about 2 inches of the plant completely and it has also killed another inch of the core, but still leaving some growing on the outside layer (im not talking about leaves, but burdock is sorta like celery, and the "strings" on the out side of the burdock were still living.)

For me thats pretty good results.

I also tried another burdock plant except I cut it down all the way to the ground and sprayed it with the vinegar, of course all I can see is the dead top but I'm more than ok with that.

Well thats what I've got so far if anybody has any questions don't be afraid to ask.
Newt

sammyd
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Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:31 am
Location: Central WI

Oh, it's burdock all right. The whole place around my 2 acres is loaded with them. We've been on a program of topping off what we can around our property and cutting and burning any that make it to seed. And the heifers and goats really like the leaves.
It seems that my goats never read the books on goats and are not very good browsers. Burdock is about all they will go for in the weed department.
Of course these are some dairy goats I got cheap because one was light on a half and the other was small. So they probably got spoiled with a better quality feed.

I will have to investigate those links on vinegar, it sounds interesting.



I know newspaper works OK and we used to use old paper feed bags when we had those, but we seem to be short on papers and the mill uses more solid plastic bags now.
The feed sacks that corn and cow grain come in are perfect for landscaping as they are pretty porous and let water through, we use them for our flower beds. But the chicken feed bags are solid plastic now instead of paper and are pretty worthless.
I've read stories and talked to a bunch of people and we still till every year. Not buying the minimum till method at this point, although I am planning on doing some experiments of my own in a raised bed I hope to make this spring.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Sammy, you may find the tilling only brings up more of the weed seeds. If you keep cutting the weeds off and don't allow them to produce seed, maybe the goats will eat the smaller plants untll they give up. The weeds, that is.

Newt

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