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Regarding Juglone...

Having had a white walnut tree to content with recently, I have done some research on the walnut trees and their propensity for causing difficulties with plant growth.

The new wisdom is that walnut leaves are okay in a compost pile if they have been left out to dry for a year. After a year, the Juglone has wasted away to negligible levels, and the leaves (or other matter) can be successfully composted. In addition, the root system will stop secreting Juglone approximately one year from the time of the tree's removal.

Again, it bears mentioning that this is the New Wisdom - tradition says never use the walnut leaves (black, or the less common white variety [a.k.a. Butternut]) in compost. Take it for what it's worth. =)

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sownongoodsoil wrote:Okay, so dumb question you wait until the plants are coming up before laying down newspaper and mulch, or will the plants come up through that?
I've never used newspaper, but I have used planting paper, mulch, etc. I would recommend laying the newspaper and mulch over the entire planting bed before planting, and then punching holes through it that are just big enough for the seedling or seed, allowing a bit for error. For example, I'll punch a roughly 2" by 2" hole for a bean seed. (Well, two or three bean seeds and then I thin to the strongest one.)

If the mulch is light and fluffy and the seeds are big and pushy (like beans/melons/cucumbers/pumpkins) go ahead and pull a couple of inches of mulch back over the seeds after you've planted them. If the seeds are little wimpy things it's better to leave their space mostly bare (maybe sprinkle a little veil of compost to retain moisture) until the seedling's sprouted and achieved a little size. That probably means that you'll have to do a little careful hand-weeding around the seedling.

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Re: What Mulch Should I Use to Keep Weeds Down?

Weed control. DITTO - a thick layer of black and white newspaper or appliance box cardboard on the native soil.

I am n avid fan of SFG. I line the bottom of my boxes with commercial grade weed cloth, appliance boxes then my Mel's mix and a pine straw mulch on top.

With 10 years of experience as a Landscape Contractor and a life time of doing my own thing I have tried it all. The absolute best mulch for both weed control and water retention is dried pine needles. Some times referred to as pine straw.

Use a very thick layer. 12". Rain and watering will pack it down. The needles twine together and create a wonderful weed barrier and water retention barrier. Very attractive in both a landscape bed or vegetable garden.

Good luck

BTW - I NEVER use landscape cloth in landscape beds. :twisted:

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Re: What Mulch Should I Use to Keep Weeds Down?

Elizabeth - I'm surprised to hear you put weed cloth in the bottom of your raised beds. I would think it would prevent your plants from rooting down in to the native soil.

For mulch for veggies, I like a mixed green/brown mulch, like fall leaves and grass clippings, straw and pulled weeds. I think they compost themselves better that way and make more complete food for the soil when it all breaks down. Since I add little else to my soil but compost, the aspect of mulch as food for the soil is important to me. It is also easier for me to achieve a thick-ish layer of mulch that way (say 4-5").

Works quite well to suppress weeds for awhile, until the mulch starts breaking down, and then I pull the weeds that made it through and renew the mulch. Also helps conserve the moisture in the soil.

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Re: What Mulch Should I Use to Keep Weeds Down?

About onions. They are cool weather plants and tend to bulb when the days are of a certain length. Hence Short Day onions for the South and Long Day onions for the North. To get a good bulb here we plant sets, a small dry onion, early in the Spring.

Please put your location on your profile then we can better advise you if we know your location.

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Re: What Mulch Should I Use to Keep Weeds Down?

I use pine needles as mulch. They stay light and let air and water through and do a better job of weed suppression than bark mulch which packs. Pine needles are acidic but they take two years to break down and my soil is alkaline. However they are aleopathic to onions. With the onions, I do have to use bark mulch 4 inches thick.

I have to water bark mulch before I water the plants unless my drip irrigation lines are under the mulch. Weeds grow on top of the mulch but if you get to them early, they are easier to pull.

I do use newspaper mulch at home because I am very bad at weeding and I have some really nasty weeds to deal with.
I also don't have a lot of deciduous trees so not too many leaves around. I leave the grass clippings for the grass. After I weed and add my compost and fertilizer, I put down about 6-8 sheets of the black and white pages of newspaper on the ground and I plant through it. I sometimes put more compost on top of it mainly to hold it down. Over time the newspaper and compost get pulled down into the soil by the soil biota. The weeds will pop through the newspaper in a couple of months but by then my plants have had a good start and if I don't leave a lot of open space, their leaves will block the light and limit the number of weeds that come up.

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