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Jan 10, 2017 2:50 PM CST
|I am fastly approaching retirement so I want to get my grandchildren involved in gardening. I will be putting in 20 raised bed boxes that are 12' x 4'. Do you know of a fabric that can we used for multiple years, can be rolled up for spring tilling and back over the soil to prevent weeds. I know there is black plastic but I am scared about water getting through and warming the soil too much. Is there a white woven product that would sufficate weeds, allow water to penatrate, prevent soil from getting to warm and can be used for multiple years.
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Jan 10, 2017 3:53 PM CST
|If you're doing raised beds and not walking in them, you shouldn't need to till. Tilling does uncover weed seeds already in the beds and - voila - new weed plants. You could mulch with fall leaves that have been saved.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Jan 10, 2017 5:34 PM CST
|Hi Tony, and welcome to NGA!
I like mulching with big chunks of pine bark. (But I do seem to have some kind of a "bark fetish".)
- Coarse bark lasts for a few to several years (can plastic make the same claim?).
- As it breaks down, they enrich the soil with organics. Feeds the worms and soil fungi.
- Bark chunks keep soil cool and moist in summer, and warmer in the fall.
- Rain falls right through (screen out any bark fines and mix them into raised beds for aeration).
- You can brush or rake chips aside before sowing, and push them back after seedlings come up.
- No plasticizers. No uncured monomers. UV? Don't care. Not ugly like plastic film.
- Bark production doesn't consume petrochemicals or electrical energy.
If you save the bags the bark came in, you still get some heavy-gauge plastic film to mess around with. I line raised bed walls or corners with it to reduce evaporation of ground water in the bed.
Big wood chips would probably work almost as well as top-dress mulch, but don't turn wood shavings under (nitrogen deficit and too much wood-eating fungi get nasty with fine wood or sawdust turned under the soil).
With both bark and wood chips, coarse big chunks are your friends. Sawdust and bark fines are likely to absorb light rainfalls and let none get through to the soil. Or they mat down and slow oxygen exchange into the soil.
Bark fines can go right into soil, but sawdust should be composted first. (Bark breaks down slower than wood of the same size (suberin) and also bark ahs a little N (more than wood, anyway).
Just because it ISN'T complicated doesn't mean I can't MAKE it complicated!
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Jan 10, 2017 5:45 PM CST
|I won't comment on whether or not the fabric needs to be taken up; that is a personal preference.
I swear by the Preen Contractor grade landscape fabric that I purchase at Sam's Club. See here:
I have just recently pulled up the same landscape fabric from my previous garden/yard and it looks as new as the day it was installed. This stuff is thicker than regular 'consumer grade' and is well worth the money. I normally use a double layer to make sure that weeds do not creep up from the bottom.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Jan 10, 2017 6:58 PM CST
|@greene How long was that fabric in place? That stuff sounds intriguing.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
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