Tomato ground covers

grow_life(6A OH)September 2, 2014

Up til now I have just been using straw in my rows. Foliage disease pressure has been incredible this year, and weeds ignored the 6"+ of matted straw, so next year I am planning on using either black plastic or landscape fabric with straw on top. I have been using soaker hoses for irrigation, but they are cheap ones from a box store clearance rack and they are done. Next season I will either upgrade to quality soakers or go with drip line with pre-spaced emitters (12") I have about 10 rows, 20-40 ft long. Question posed: Plastic or fabric? dripline or soakers? What are your experiences?

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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Drip tape is far better than soaker hoses. It is cheap and easy to use. Plastic mulch is cheap and disposable, fabric is more pricey, but can be reused. How big of an area are you talking?


    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 9:32AM
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i wouldn't use straw on top of plastic mulch, just plastic mulch alone. i would use t-tapes.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 12:49PM
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grow_life(6A OH)

It's not a big area. I'll be planting about 8-10 30 foot rows. I lean towards soaker hose just because I hate messing with lots of fittings, but the cheap hoses weren't working for me this year. What's a good source for the drip tape/t tape?
Also, I know a lot of the disease problems are soil borne, is the plastic a better barrier, or the fabric, as far as keeping the foliage clean? I like the permeability of fabric, but I wonder if that would be sufficient. I'm also planning on tinkering with grafting next year, just to see if it makes sense for me. I do almost exclusively heirlooms for a local chef.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 4:06PM
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landscape fabric and drip tape is what we have used for the past 10 or so years. Used to use thin plastic but that would usually get torn up after 2 to 3 months of use and be useless for weed suppression mainly because we keep our aisle ways grassy and that means mowing and weed whacking and such equipment can do great damage to plastic but not to landscape fabric. And LF is reusable for at least 11 years.

Drip is so much better than soaker hoses

    Bookmark   September 3, 2014 at 4:52PM
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