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weed control

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weed control

Post  y2jeffr on 5/8/2012, 9:03 am

this is my first season with my new raised bed and mels mix. i followed the instructions perfectly to date as far as making mels mix and filling the bed. now i am faced with my first problem. i have weeds growing.

let me first say that i am not using the square foot gardening technique this season. i just have some tomato plants spaced out nicely as i dont want to prune them down to one stem. my father told me to use the black landscape fabric as a weed barrier but i didnt listen. he has been gardening down the block for years and says the weed seeds will be blown in by the wind and i will stand no chance if i dont use that mulch or some other mulch.

so i need some help here. do i just get down and dirty and do as much weeding as possible? it is way too late to use the landscape fabric as my plants and cages are established. is there some type of organic component i can use that wont disrupt my mix such as pine bark fines or hay or straw? maybe i will just add a layer of compost over the bed to kill off some weeds. anyone have a good idea?

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Re: weed control

Post  littlesapphire on 5/8/2012, 9:14 am

I have to ask first, what did you use to fill your raised beds? Did you mix the three components to make Mel's Mix: 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss? If so, did you use high quality compost?

I ask because high quality compost should be weed seed free because the composting process kills all the seeds. You will get some seeds blown in from the wind, but they will be few and far between and very easy to pull up. For me, I usually have to pull up small baby weeds every couple of days (maybe four or five per raised bed) for the first month, but after that they just stop growing.

Now, that said, mulching is a good idea both to help reduce the weed problem and to help retain moisture through the hot months of summer Smile I use straw, but you can use lots of things including wood chips, mulched leaves, I've even heard of people using dried grass clippings and compost. I don't think I'd use dried grass clippings because there might be weed seeds in it.

Good luck! Also, if you have any pictures of your weed problem, I'd love to see. I'd like to compare our weeds and see how bad your problem is.

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Re: weed control

Post  y2jeffr on 5/8/2012, 9:25 am

i did follow mels mix. aabout 3/4 of the compost i used was store bought and the rest from my compost pile. i didnt have enough home made compost nor did the home made stuff have all the sources mel recommends. i can be sure if the store bought compost had weeds or not but i assume it was heated properly.

as far as mulch goes i'd rather not use wood chips but maybe straw would work. i have some almost finished rabbit/hay compost right now so could also use that in a couple weeks. this garden is at my beach house so its tough to keep up with the weeding as i might only be there once every couple weeks at this time of year.

i have also read about a thin layer of newspaper and then cover that with compost or other mulch to prevent weeds. i might do that outside of the cages and just weed inside the cages

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Re: weed control

Post  camprn on 5/8/2012, 9:48 am

IF it were me, I would get down and dirty and weed and cultivate to disrupt any emerging sprouts. I then would use a shredded bark mulch, 1" or 1.5" inches of it. I really like the shredded bark mulch because it does what it is suppose to, reduce weed seeds from germinating in the soil and retaining moisture in the soil. The bark mulch is pretty eay to pull back to plant something new or add compost. It will eventually break down and can be incorporated into the soil and it will not take up as much nitrogen from the soil as wood chips.

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Re: weed control

Post  walshevak on 5/8/2012, 7:22 pm

I haven't done it in a SFG, but in my row garden days I would use layers of newspapers between rows and plants as mulch. Then I would cover it with chopped leaves. It worked great for that. In the fall I would just till it all under to await the spring garden, but I'll bet you could lift it at the end of the growing season and add to the compost pile.

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Re: weed control

Post  quiltbea on 5/8/2012, 9:38 pm

At our community garden, its tilled every year so dormant weed seeds come up willingly and in great hordes. After fighting week after week with a stirrup hoe to keep down the weeds, I used newspaper laid along the pathways and around my plants and covered that with straw. Worked great for a weed-free mulch so I'll be doing that earlier this year. Don't lay down your mulch before your soil warms up or your plants will get a late start.

Note: Used hay one year and that had more weeds seeds than the original garden. Also had weeds pop up thru red bark mulch before in my flower garden so now its layers of newspaper first, then straw.

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Re: weed control

Post  y2jeffr on 5/9/2012, 9:33 am

thanks all. i think i am going to throw throw down some compost, cover that up with some newspaper and then either do some bark fines or straw. i will chose based on availability and price. if whichever i chose works great i will repeat next year. otherwise i can try the other mulch next year. thanks all.

i will not be doing this for another few weeks so feel free to keep posting on this subject.

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Re: weed control

Post  y2jeffr on 5/9/2012, 9:34 am

does straw come in bales just like hay? any idea how much to cover a 4x16 bed?

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Re: weed control

Post  GWN on 5/9/2012, 9:54 am

I am kind of in the same situation.
I have about 200 square feet of raised beds, some with mels mix and some I have not gotten to.
I placed cardboard under some and fabric under some, but the crab (??) grass is just awful it gets in everywhere.
The one thing I did not do is to lay down the fabric before putting down the wood frame, so that the fabric went out further than the wood frame, to avoid those weeds that seem to come up JUST along side the wood.
This crab grass I have found places where there is less than an inch of root left, that provides enough for a whole new plant to begin.

I am thinking I am going to need to lift every one of my beds this fall and lay very large sheets of road grade fabric under them if I am ever going to get control over this crab grass.
My newest SFG with the fabric beyond the edges of the wood seem to be weed free

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Re: weed control

Post  Goosegirl on 5/9/2012, 10:52 am

I just replaced the area rug in my living room and am SERIOUSLY considering using the old one as weed barrier for a new box area! It is large enough that I could use it to cover the entire area that is going to be my new and improved herb garden.

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Re: weed control

Post  GWN on 5/9/2012, 11:10 am

I just replaced the area rug in my living room and am SERIOUSLY considering using the old one as weed barrier for a new box area!
I have a friend who sent me pictures years ago of her sisters garden that was completely controlled with carpet.
All the paths and the area around the garden.
I have tended to use old area rugs that have gotten worn out.
Works well..not sure what toxins live in old carpet....other than old lego.

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Re: weed control

Post  Goosegirl on 5/9/2012, 11:29 am

@GWN wrote:
I just replaced the area rug in my living room and am SERIOUSLY considering using the old one as weed barrier for a new box area!
I have a friend who sent me pictures years ago of her sisters garden that was completely controlled with carpet.
All the paths and the area around the garden.
I have tended to use old area rugs that have gotten worn out.
Works well..not sure what toxins live in old carpet....other than old lego.

I think I would risk a little carpet toxin to control the bindweed! Mad

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Re: weed control

Post  quiltbea on 5/9/2012, 11:49 am

Last year I bought 3 bales of straw, and yes it comes in bales like hay. I covered all my garden paths (I have nine 4x4 beds and 3 berms), my flower garden, my veggie garden beds, and around my community garden veggies as well. I had enough to cover my 16-ft long strawberry patch and garlic bed deeply for the winter and I still had some left over. Mine were $8 a bale last year here in Maine.

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Re: weed control

Post  Turan on 5/9/2012, 12:48 pm

Lego toxins!!! lol! (I sprayed coffee all over the computer, it needed cleaning anyways)

I have also used old carpet in walk ways. When I was a kid my dad would cut holes in it and planted corn. Eventually grass with runners like crab, quack, bermuda grows through it and then it can be an incredible tangle getting it out. The yarn part of the carpet is slower to break down than the stuff that holds it together. Now I use a combination of weed block and black plastic. The plastic does a better job inhibiting stuff like quack grass/bind weed. I am trying to maintain a couple feet of no grass zone around hte garden area, in vain hopes of keeping it from snaking up into the beds.

To put around plants in a garden that is already started I think news paper /cardboard would give the best solid coverage then topped with some sort of mulch. If possible I would use grass clippings to cover the newspapers~ they give good coverage, look nice, have more nitrogen for breaking down and are usually very renewable. Just don't use grass that has been fed those systemic weeder stuffs.

Straw often grows a grain crop for you Rolling Eyes but usually no other weeds because it was sprayed with a broad leaf herbicide. That usually has worn away by the time we apply it to the garden, and even if not, if going around established plants should be ok ( around here at least persisting systemic herbicides are not used on grain crops) Hay is more nutritious as it breaks down, has a greater chance of weed seed OR systemic nasty persistant herbicides. I found that deep mulched potatoes with straw did horrible because of the slugs and nitrogen robbing, while deep mulched with hay from my own fields did very well and with fewer slugs.

It is really irritating and frustrating that we have to worry about these broad leaf herbicides.

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Re: weed control

Post  camprn on 5/9/2012, 12:51 pm

I have used old carpet to deal with mud, but not grass and weeds.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: weed control

Post  GWN on 5/9/2012, 1:41 pm

You have to be a bit careful using carpet, as it gets pretty slick in the fall with mold and water.
I am trying something else today with one of my older raised beds.
I have dug dug dug to get out the quack grass, and have found pieces of root only half an inch long starting up new grass.... SHEESH

I am putting black plastic on top of the whole thing, even over the edges, and am going to staple it down and then plant my peppers in little holes in the plastic.
This way it keeps the ground warmer and hopefully the quack grass out.
(I am new to quack grass and thought all the neighbours were saying CRAB grass) blush

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Re: weed control

Post  Turan on 5/9/2012, 2:26 pm

@GWN wrote:You have to be a bit careful using carpet, as it gets pretty slick in the fall with mold and water.
I am trying something else today with one of my older raised beds.
I have dug dug dug to get out the quack grass, and have found pieces of root only half an inch long starting up new grass.... SHEESH

I am putting black plastic on top of the whole thing, even over the edges, and am going to staple it down and then plant my peppers in little holes in the plastic.
This way it keeps the ground warmer and hopefully the quack grass out.
(I am new to quack grass and thought all the neighbours were saying CRAB grass)

Around here we use the names interchangably, but I think they are seperate species but related? Any rate.... a huge pain in the patooey. My neighbor farmer told me that the really best way to get it out of a field was to summer fallow. Every time you see that thin skim of green go disc again untill you wear the roots out, but he always has pressure to use all fields etc. For us gardeners your idea is what I do as well. Get out as many roots as possible, keep after it all spring as they keep sprouting from the missed bits, put black plastic over it and plant something like squash that likes heat and is spaced far enough apart that the plastic is not all holes. In the fall take the plastic off and go through the beds again finding roots. It really helps to do this in hte area directly around hte beds too.

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Re: weed control

Post  GWN on 5/9/2012, 3:08 pm

do you think that Peppers would be OK with the heat?, not too hot? in the summer?

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Re: weed control

Post  givvmistamps on 5/9/2012, 7:31 pm

@GWN wrote:do you think that Peppers would be OK with the heat?, not too hot? in the summer?

Peppers will grow in the heat of FL in the summer, so I imagine they might be okay up there in summer with plastic on the ground so long as they get plenty of water. You could put mulch over the plastic to reduce the heat-capturing qualities.

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Re: weed control

Post  Turan on 5/9/2012, 10:42 pm

@GWN wrote:do you think that Peppers would be OK with the heat?, not too hot? in the summer?

O deffinatily! I grow peppers in hte greenhouse through black plastic with no problem. Tomatoes too.

Here is a pic of the old garden (7/05) with brocolli and corn growing through it. Only things I did not use it with was greens and peas.


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Re: weed control

Post  GWN on 5/9/2012, 10:55 pm

kewel.... thanks...Thats what I am going to do

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Re: weed control

Post  Goosegirl on 5/10/2012, 8:34 am

@Turan wrote:
@GWN wrote:do you think that Peppers would be OK with the heat?, not too hot? in the summer?

O deffinatily! I grow peppers in hte greenhouse through black plastic with no problem. Tomatoes too.

Here is a pic of the old garden (7/05) with brocolli and corn growing through it. Only things I did not use it with was greens and peas.


Gorgeous!

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Re: weed control

Post  littlesapphire on 5/10/2012, 10:06 am

What a lovely garden you had! Even if it was a row garden Very Happy

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Re: weed control

Post  Turan on 5/10/2012, 11:33 am

Awww, thanks Embarassed

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Re: weed control

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 5/10/2012, 3:22 pm

In the old part of the garden, where I first started doing square foot gardening from Mel's first book, the aisles are covered in old paper-making felt (PapaVino was a superintendent at the Boise Cascade paper mill here) and the felts make fantastic weed control. Moisture can pass through it, but weeds can't sprout through it. To make it more attractive, last year I spread the aisles with straw. It looked wonderful.....for awhile, then began to decompose. No problem, I shoveled it off the felts last fall, and added it to the compost pile. Be warned, though, straw may have some stray wheat seeds in it. Pick 'em out, plant and let some grow and harvest your own wheat next fall. Nice for fall decorations.

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