Vegetables and Fruit forum→What about plastic mulch for tomatoes?...for peppers?...for ????

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Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Aug 17, 2021 8:29 PM CST
Has anybody got thoughts on using black or red plastic mulch for tomatoes and other plants? I'm here in south Alabama and have a terrible problem with weeds. My multiple foes are mostly purslane, dog fennel, and maypops/passion-flowers. Watering isn't an issue as I use runs of drip tape on my rows. ????

Thanks,
Ed
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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pirl
Aug 17, 2021 8:47 PM CST
in the past we did try the red plastic for tomatoes - no greater yield but it did keep the weeds out.
Thumb of 2021-08-18/pirl/e946a3

Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Aug 17, 2021 9:04 PM CST
Thanks for the feedback, Arlene. You're garden looks so neat and orderly!!! Thumbs up

No, increase in yield, eh? I'm thinking that the black plastic might be more durable than the red. But, I'm wondering if down here in the deep south the black might be too hot? Down around Slocomb, Alabama (southeast corner of the state) they grow a lot of tomatoes commercially. It's been a long time since I've been through there. I wonder if they use plastic mulch there. I've got to make a road trip down into the edge of Florida before long...I might have to swing a little further eastward and check it out. Thinking
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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pirl
Aug 18, 2021 7:51 AM CST
You're welcome. All credit goes to my great late husband.
Thumb of 2021-08-18/pirl/3e63aa Thumb of 2021-08-18/pirl/c7285a

We tried both red and black but the black was far more durable - great for paths.

It's always worth checking out what the pro's use.

Taos, New Mexico (Zone 5b)
Crescit Eundo
Greenhouse Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Mexico
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Henderman
Aug 18, 2021 8:30 AM CST
Not plastic but I use landscape fabric around my tomatoes and eggplants, it works well.
Thumb of 2021-08-18/Henderman/1ceedb

Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Aug 18, 2021 8:42 AM CST
It sounds like your husband knew what he was doing and didn't mind doing it!!! Thumbs up

The straw looks good! Down here places usually only have pine straw available which I'm not all that crazy about using with vegetables...just something about it. Seems it does ok around ornamentals. The wheat straw that is found at times around here is pitiful...light, weak bales with seeds everywhere. Thumbs down Hopefully there'll be a good crop of oak leaves this year and I'll have enough "go get'em" to go get them! nodding
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
pirl
Aug 18, 2021 9:07 AM CST
I stand corrected, with thanks to Henderman. The black material was landscape fabric we used for paths.

Jack would collect the many bags of leaves from a neighbor and chip them, then make compost. He made a total of six bins. Now I just use three for compost and grow dahlias in the other three.

Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Aug 18, 2021 11:44 AM CST
Henderman said:Not plastic but I use landscape fabric around my tomatoes and eggplants, it works well.
<snip>


I'll have to compare the $$$ of this with the plastic. I do like the fact that it will let rain through!!! That is a BIG WIN!!!
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
pirl
Aug 18, 2021 1:48 PM CST
Plastic is very slippery. Be very careful.
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Aug 18, 2021 2:02 PM CST
Arlene, I'm glad you mentioned that about the slipperiness...I don't need any help getting tangled up or slipping on things!!! Blinking If I decide to try any of the roll mulch I'll be using it on the rows and tilling the paths every so often. I think I'd rather go with the landscape fabric, too. Thumbs up
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Bee Lover Butterflies Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Weedwhacker
Aug 18, 2021 7:20 PM CST
It's been a long, long time since I tried using plastic for "mulch," but also found that it was very slippery (and I was a lot more nimble back then...).

Ed you might want to consider using corrugated cardboard, which will break down after a while. Actually, the plastic will also eventually break down from the UV rays, and then it really becomes a mess...
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
C/F temp conversion
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Aug 18, 2021 9:10 PM CST
Weedwhacker said:It's been a long, long time since I tried using plastic for "mulch," but also found that it was very slippery (and I was a lot more nimble back then...).

Ed you might want to consider using corrugated cardboard, which will break down after a while. Actually, the plastic will also eventually break down from the UV rays, and then it really becomes a mess...


Yeah, I think I'm going to forget about using plastic and go with the fabric, if I do this. One thing about the plastic is that ants might take up residence beneath it. It seems that anything solid laying on the ground they build a village beneath it. I puttered around in the garden this evening...I moved a couple of U-posts that were laying on the ground and an upside-down bucket that was on the ground....ant's all up under these things. Sighing! I'd really like to try the cardboard but I don't think it'd work because of my ant problem...it's really crazy. So, probably the fabric is my best bet if I decide to go forward with this idea. I dunno...I've gotta finished getting the cucumber trellis out and knock down the tomato cages and then see how the tilling goes. There will be a lot of grass and root grubbing to be done...just like the first of this year after it laid by the end of season last year. It's like a double whammy for me!!! D'Oh! But, one way or the other...it'll be ok. Thumbs up I may just run my tiller all winter long, turning up roots and whatever and hope we have some freezing weather. nodding I can at least maybe keep the weed seeds turned up for the birds to pick over. Thumbs up
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Alice
St. Johns, FL (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Master Gardener: Florida Organic Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Hibiscus
Orchids Fruit Growers Tropicals Hummingbirder Garden Photography Container Gardener
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ardesia
Aug 19, 2021 5:08 AM CST
Landscape fabric is a no no in the humid, wet southeast, weeds grow right through it and seed over the top. You will never get the weeds out of it and when you want to get rid of it pulling it up is hard work. I spent 20 yeas living in a region with thousands of acres of tomato fields and never saw any plastic except for the first year red plastic was talked up. It was not repeated the following year. I suspect the growers used a pre emergent for weeds. Cardboard is probably your safest bet.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Bee Lover Butterflies Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Weedwhacker
Aug 19, 2021 6:53 AM CST
Never mind the southeast - I've had exactly the same experience with landscape fabric. It always seems like such a good idea - until you realize it has made the problem that you were trying to solve even worse Grumbling

Ed, I think at one point Farmerdill had suggested this: arrange your garden with enough room between rows so you can run your tiller through them to clean up the weeds. That would also disrupt any ants that are trying to move in. (and get the weeds when they're small, don't let them take hold and go to seed)
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
C/F temp conversion
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Aug 19, 2021 7:05 AM CST
Thanks for the feedback, Alice, we do have some persistent weeds down here, don't we. D'Oh! I may have to run a trial with cardboard and see just how bad the ants take up residence beneath it. It would be great for it to work out, but I do have my doubts. But, I guess I need to try it.

Something else that I think I've figured out to do is to grow a more hardy crop...something that should grow well here and that I'm capable of making grow. I've heard that this plant makes some tasty grape-like jams and jellies and has other edible qualities about it. It's in the pea family, so a bit starchy. It is supposed to pull all sorts of good minerals and trace elements from deeper than most vegetables do and is also a good feed for livestock. It is a real multi-use plant! It is more or less drought resistant and requires little to no fertilizing!!! It grows well with little problem...it is a robust, vigorous grower. The only problem it has is with a tiny little bug that looks like a stinkbug...but that can't be too hard to deal with, can it? It's Latin name is Pueraria lobata, around here we just call it kudzu. Rolling my eyes.
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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farmerdill
Aug 19, 2021 7:21 AM CST
Concur: kudzu makes fine grazing. Goats love it. It can't stand cultivation tho so don't disturb it. It has to do its own thing. It is deathly afraid of hoes , tillers, plows, cultivators and other earth disturbing devices. For me . it tastes as good if not better than kale which is not saying much. Kale has the advantage of being a winter crop for us.
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
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Intheswamp
Aug 19, 2021 7:26 AM CST
Weedwhacker said:Never mind the southeast - I've had exactly the same experience with landscape fabric. It always seems like such a good idea - until you realize it has made the problem that you were trying to solve even worse Grumbling

Ed, I think at one point Farmerdill had suggested this: arrange your garden with enough room between rows so you can run your tiller through them to clean up the weeds. That would also disrupt any ants that are trying to move in. (and get the weeds when they're small, don't let them take hold and go to seed)


My wife uses some of the fabric in a flowerbed. Though she gets some grasses poking through all along it has dramatically reduced the sprouting of most weeds. But, I can see when the time comes to remove it with the existing plants there that it's going to be a job. But (#2), she covers it with pine straw.

I agree with what you said about Dillard's recommendation. That is where I was headed this year when whatever bug hit me, hit me and waylaid me for over three weeks. When I walked out to the garden after those three weeks I took one look and ran a white flag up. That's when I strongly started thinking of container gardening. The effort I had put into clearing the garden only to see it so overgrown again was a bit much.

But, I think a frequent tilling, as Dillard recommended is just what will be required to keep it under control. The garden is badly overgrown once again. I got out the other day on the zero-turn mower and did my drunk man impersonation driving it and mowed the perimeter grass inside the garden fence. I've also walked through it like a Sumari with my trusty (cheap) Black&Decker cordless hedge-trimmers slowly mowing down the weeds in sections to make them easier to till under. Yesterday afternoon I pulled all the drip tape out and today I hope to remove the cucumber trellis and take out the tomato cages and plants. The only thing I'm hesitant to remove are the ratty-looking zinnias. The plants are succumbing to some type of leaf-spot/mildew/typical "Ed's garden malady" but yet they're still blooming and the butterflies are loving them. I may just leave the long row of them and knock down the ones growing out in the vegetable area...but the ones in the vegetable area look the best...we'll see. Shrug!

Once I get the obstacles removed I'm going to take my tiller and till it all to a pulp. Remove grass and roots. Till again. Remove grass and roots. Rinse, repeat. I know there'll be weed seeds to contend with but I'm going to start a regular tilling routine between the rows and try to keep it under control. I think @farmerdill 's recommendation is spot on about tilling the weeds under. I've just got to get back to the point where I can do that....all in due time, I suppose. Thumbs up
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Container Gardener Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Procrastinator Zinnias Vegetable Grower Region: Alabama Seed Starter
Image
Intheswamp
Aug 19, 2021 7:44 AM CST
farmerdill said:Concur: kudzu makes fine grazing. Goats love it. It can't stand cultivation tho so don't disturb it. It has to do its own thing. It is deathly afraid of hoes , tillers, plows, cultivators and other earth disturbing devices. For me . it tastes as good if not better than kale which is not saying much. Kale has the advantage of being a winter crop for us.


I've got to disagree with you on some of this. I know for a fact that it does like some large pieces of equipment. Why, it enjoys using them like a trellis or arbor if given the chance. The only redeeming feature of kudzu for me was the smell of the blooms...a heavenly, grape-like scent. Unfortunately, we got another pest from our Asian friends...it's called the "kudzu bug". It's that tiny bug I mentioned. It looks so much like a stink bug but only maybe a 1/4" across. Seems it is giving soybean growers problems, too. The problem for the kudzu blooms is once they become infested with these small bugs that rather than that great grape-like scent they take on the smell of...stink bugs. Grumbling

Kudzu, cogongrass, fire ants, privet hedge, Africanized bees, walking catfish, starlings, snakefish, pythons, and probably only another few thousand species of things that all gets inside our borders, disrupts the native flora and fauna and takes over!!! Sheesh!!!! Thumbs down
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/

South Alabama Weather
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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farmerdill
Aug 19, 2021 8:37 AM CST
Most of our food crops are also immigrants Ed. Not much native except corn, bean and squash Even the solanums (potatoes. tomatoes peppers ) came from south of the border). We are indeed a country of immigrants, People, Plants, and many many other members of the animal kingdom. Change is the only constant.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Bee Lover Butterflies Birds I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Weedwhacker
Aug 19, 2021 9:18 AM CST
Intheswamp said:

...Once I get the obstacles removed I'm going to take my tiller and till it all to a pulp. Remove grass and roots. Till again. Remove grass and roots. Rinse, repeat. I know there'll be weed seeds to contend with but I'm going to start a regular tilling routine between the rows and try to keep it under control. I think @farmerdill 's recommendation is spot on about tilling the weeds under. I've just got to get back to the point where I can do that....all in due time, I suppose. Thumbs up


OMG - this sounds exactly like the kind of speech I always give to myself during the winter garden planning... "this year will be different and all my projects will be finished and perfect" Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing

By this time of year I'm more in the frame of mind where if I can actually find the plants among the weeds I'm pretty happy Whistling

(In all fairness to myself - my veg garden is actually in pretty good shape this year; it's all those other projects (my shady corner garden, the other shady area where I planned to move the hostas, the "arbor area" where the deer have made mincemeat of my sedums, my redbud tree all but died and is sprouting up from the roots, and a "Red Dragon" contorted hazel isn't looking the best either; the foundation planting where we put in a couple of "little Devil" ninebark shrubs, weeded, and mulched not too long ago, now has weeds springing up through the mulch and the ninebark has powdery mildew <sigh>. I'll spare you the details about my perennial garden and the "butterfly garden." It's possible I just have a few too many projects started... Rolling my eyes. )
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
C/F temp conversion

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