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Kevster

Planting through black plastic

Hi all
I was wondering if anyone had any experience of planting through black plastic? I've been on the allotment for 3 years now and there's no sign of the weeds reducing and it was a real bind this year, trying to keep on top of them. I've also seen it suggested that the woven weed proof is good, but too expensive for me. I was hoping that if I made shallow depressions in the soil where I wanted the plants, the rain water would run down to the plant and through the hole in the plastic.

Has anyone tried this....or is it more trouble than its worth?
Thanks for any help
Kev
Andy B

We tried it. The problem we had is that the lottie is on a slope, the rain got chaneld straight to the plants and eroded the soil. Never got as far a sorting a solution cause the slugs like hiding under the plastic and ate everything. Being on a slope and all that rain didnt help.
Kevster

Andy B wrote:
We tried it. The problem we had is that the lottie is on a slope, the rain got chaneld straight to the plants and eroded the soil. Never got as far a sorting a solution cause the slugs like hiding under the plastic and ate everything. Being on a slope and all that rain didnt help.

Mines pretty flat, but I do get a lot of the tiny slugs that eat holes in spuds and make homes between the leaf stalks of cabbages. I wonder if the plastic would make these worse of better?
Andy B

Kevster wrote:
Andy B wrote:
We tried it. The problem we had is that the lottie is on a slope, the rain got chaneld straight to the plants and eroded the soil. Never got as far a sorting a solution cause the slugs like hiding under the plastic and ate everything. Being on a slope and all that rain didnt help.

Mines pretty flat, but I do get a lot of the tiny slugs that eat holes in spuds and make homes between the leaf stalks of cabbages. I wonder if the plastic would make these worse of better?


Well after the year of the slug (bloody things) its hard to tell.
Mary-Jane

Only problem with black plastic is that it does dry the soil underneath away from the plants. The woven black fabric is far superior because it cuts out the light, but lets in water. The thing you have to watch out for though is fraying where it's been cut - however, if you're prepared to run along the cut edged with a sewing machine the problem will be solved. (I have done this and it works well).

First Tunnels sell it by the roll and the metre - all different widths: http://www.firsttunnels.co.uk/subsubcategory.asp?catid=31 and although it sounds a lot, it really is very good value.

Perhaps you could club together with some other gardeners and buy a roll between you? Otherwise, do you have a local farm suppliers near you? They usually sell something similar by the metre on big rolls in store. Either way, First Tunnels and farm suppliers are both much cheaper than garden centres.
Kevster

Mary-Jane wrote:
Otherwise, do you have a local farm suppliers near you? They usually sell something similar by the metre on big rolls in store. Either way, First Tunnels and farm suppliers are both much cheaper than garden centres.

There's plenty of them around here.....maybe I'll try doing a quarter of the alotment at time. The weeds were more of problem for some of the slower growers (like celeriac) and the onions. How UV resistant is the woven weed-suppressor fabric? Does it need covering with earth or mulch to protect it?
Kev
Mary-Jane

Kevster wrote:
How UV resistant is the woven weed-suppressor fabric? Does it need covering with earth or mulch to protect it?


Not as far as I've found. I'm still re-using stuff I bought 3-4 years ago. It will have a finite life of course...I just haven't got to the end of it yet! Laughing
baldybloke

Probably best to put the plastic down on an area not being used to kill the weeds off by starving them of light. Then rotate this around the site when another area becomes clear. I've used breathable membrane with bark chips on the borders in my garden and the weeds grow on top of it. Not only that the roots superglue themselves to the membrane.
Slim

baldybloke's got the idea. If you can rotate a section of plastic around the site, you can kill weeds effectively. Even more so if you till, lay down a clear plastic that will bake everything in the soil, till again, water, and lay the plastic down again to get the next round of seeds up and germinated.

The groundcloth stuff is pretty tough. Two thoughts on covering it. Mulch will protect it from weathering. If you let something grow in the mulch and root through the cloth however, it'll be a bear to pull up or move anywhere.
yummersetter

I have a lot of thick black plastic that my photographic paper is supplied in and use it a lot in the garden. We sawed a length of 3" diameter blue plastic ridged pipe into about 3 inch segments,and now cut a star in the black plastic and screw the pipe into it, pushing it into the soil. The a seed or plant goes in and a halved large plastic bottle will fit inside the ring as a mini-cloche. The depression catches the water and the surface slugs under the sheet can't easily get to the plants. Only problem was the year we grew celeriac for the first time and didn't notice that it had grown larger than the pipe. It came out looking like a warty fat lady in a girdle.
Nick

yummersetter wrote:
It came out looking like a warty fat lady in a girdle.


BEST Metaphor ever.
mochasidamo

Slugs, slugs, slugs. Seven year old's a dab hand at harvesting the escapees when the salad comes in...eugghhh
boisdevie1

Why not use loads of cardboard to keep the weeds down. If you have a DIY superstore nearby it might be a good source of really good boxes. I've also heard that cardboard shredded through a garden shreader is pretty good.
Kevster

boisdevie1 wrote:
Why not use loads of cardboard to keep the weeds down. If you have a DIY superstore nearby it might be a good source of really good boxes. I've also heard that cardboard shredded through a garden shreader is pretty good.

Does the cardboard need to shredded...or can I just cut it down as strips that can be laid down between the rows?
Kev
gil

You can use strips cut to what size you need - weighted down with stones / bricks as appropriate if windy.

I don't like black plastic as a mulch because it seems to me to cut the air out / starve the soil of oxygen, and if you leave it on too long, the earth gets a bit 'dead'.
Kevster

gil wrote:
You can use strips cut to what size you need - weighted down with stones / bricks as appropriate if windy.

I don't like black plastic as a mulch because it seems to me to cut the air out / starve the soil of oxygen, and if you leave it on too long, the earth gets a bit 'dead'.


I've not tried plastic or cardboard. I did use a square of carpet at one point, and that seemed to work OK. Thing about cardboard that appeals (apart from being free) is that the worms seem to love it.
mochyn

Nick wrote:
yummersetter wrote:
It came out looking like a warty fat lady in a girdle.


BEST Metaphor ever.


Oooh: ooh: M-J, Sean etc: can I say it, please?

It's not a metaphor.

It's a simile.
boisdevie1

Cardboard is good. Weigh it down with bricks/stones or get it nice and wet. I use loads of the stuff and it works a treat.
yummersetter

I thought it would be ungracious of me to nit-pick such a nice compliment on grammatical grounds, over to you gladly, Mochyn
mochyn

yummersetter wrote:
I thought it would be ungracious of me to nit-pick such a nice compliment on grammatical grounds, over to you gladly, Mochyn


Oh, I absolutely agree with the sentiment of Nick's comment. It's a line I'll have to throw into conversation sometime...
yummersetter

gil wrote:
I don't like black plastic as a mulch because it seems to me to cut the air out / starve the soil of oxygen, and if you leave it on too long, the earth gets a bit 'dead'.


My main gardening battle (in 'normal' summers!) is retaining moisture, as I leave my garden to its own devices for the working week, and the plastic means that the roots never dry out. There are always loads of worms working the soil below. The second most important battle is against bindweed and it runs along the surface of the earth under the sheet and is easy to remove. Only a few weeds to remove, too, and nothing is seeding onto the soil. With the plastic pipe system it's not really lying flat, it's more like buttoned upholstery. I do always leave any plastic covering off for the winter and just put a few inches of well rotted horse manure layer on the surface.
Kevster

Quote:

My main gardening battle (in 'normal' summers!) is retaining moisture, as I leave my garden to its own devices for the working week, and the plastic means that the roots never dry out.


Do you have the plants at low points to encourage the water to run towards them?
Kev
yummersetter

yes, where the plastic pipe is screwed into the hole in the plastic and pushed into the ground there's a depression and - here's the clever bit - any water runs into the ground on the outer side of the pipe rather than waterlogging the stem of the plant (in theory, floods and deluges excepted )

Photos needed, I think, - if the weather's kind next weekend I'll do a demo shoot, shall I?
Mrs Baggins

I tried this and had a nightmare! Not all plants like being all sweaty and cling filmed but pretty much none of mine did and I had a rubbish crop.

I tried using just chipped bark straight on the earth, which I didn't like and then got some black, woven weed suppressor which was much better. I got a massive roll on the internet on some special deal of the moment (I got lucky) and I still have about a third of it left.

I'll probably be using it on my new patch. Saved me a lot of weeding it did!
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