Plastic? black? Red? mulch? Landscape fabric?

Jay_NY(6A)March 1, 2011

Hey Guys. I have used landscape fabric for my garden for the past few years and it works however I am wondering if something else works better.

I hear all this buzz about red plastic but water can't get in like with landscape fabric! I use a drip irrigation system so I suppose if I left that row open where the tomato plants are or put the drip irrigation underneath the plastic that could work.


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Lots of previous discussions here about the red plastic stuff - most find it to be full of hype - as well as plastic mulch use in general and its pros and cons. But if you want to use it just set your drippers at the X hole where you insert the plant or poke some holes in it.

Personally over the years I have found using one of the many organic material mulches to be far more efficient not to mention beneficial to the plants and the soil.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:54AM
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THanks Dave, Can you give me some recommendations for organic material to use? I really would like to avoid plastic and even landscape fabric as im sure the chemicals in those are not exactly organic. What about on the rows between the plants? same mulch? Thanks for your input!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 10:11AM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Hi Jay,

I'm not Dave, but I think that what he means in this case, is any mulch that will break down over time to improve the soil.

When most gardeners are talking about mulch they are referring to compost, straw, hay, rotted leaves, grass clippings, even shredded paper and cardboard, etc. Wood chips are not usually recommended as a mulch because it binds the soil nitrogen as it decomposes and makes the nitrogen less available to your garden plants, however, if you have no other mulch available, wood chips will do. Mulch should be applied heavily, 6 - 8 inches is usually considered a good depth, though even as little as one or two inches is better than no mulch at all.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:21AM
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I have tried a number of different mulches. Don't like the black plastic, especially if you don't cover it. I put my drip irrigation under it and the covered it with wheat straw. At end of year you have to get it out of garden and don't break down. Next level is landscape fabric which is better, but still don't break down. Can put the drip lines on top and will get down ok. I am evolving to putting plants down and taking old newspaper print (non color) around the plants (about 4 or 5 layers and then cover with mulch.) My favorite is cedar mulch (non colored) or wheat straw. Don't like hay as may have too many weed seeds in it. There have been some studies I have seen that commercial producers have been using red plastic on tomatoes and has really increased production, however, mostly in greenhouse conditions as plastic not covered with mulch. Haven't tried it, but may try one bed to see if it makes a difference. Think it has to do with UV rays. Don't know all the particulars. Downside of a lot of these is cost. I

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:26PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Can you give me some recommendations for organic material to use?

Bets covered it very well. My personal preference is straw - often considered the ideal mulching material, if not available then old, often called "spoilt", hay works well. Other alternatives in addition to the ones Betsy listed are leaf mold, pine straw, or even layers of wet newspaper.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:45PM
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