Is Plasticulture Gardening The Best Way
There Are Many Benefits And A Virtual Weed-Free Garden Is #1!
Weed prevention is the main reason I do plasticulture gardening with black plastic in my garden because weeds cannot grow in darkness.
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When black plastic covers weeds, they die, and new weeds don’t sprout.
No Weeding. No Tilling. No Digging. No Dumping. No Raised Beds.
Consequently, the best time for covering a vegetable bed in black plastic mulch is late summer, fall and/or early spring before the growing season starts.
Or, add a nice thick layer of compost and cover with black plastic and pine straw in the fall.
When the time comes to cut holes in the plastic to plant seedlings or seeds (which I prefer), any weeds that remained in the bed after soil preparation have died, and won’t compete with young vegetable plants for water or soil nutrients.
Don’t forget, however, that weeds will grow in any areas the plastic mulch doesn’t cover.
For proper drainage, I use an iron rake to poke holes in the black plastic so water won’t puddle.
If weeds appear through the small holes, pull them out quickly before they get established.
Also, weed shoots may appear in the holes where the vegetables were planted, and these must be pulled out by hand early in the season before they get established and/or as you see them.
Weeds can also grow in the spaces between mulched beds, although I don’t have this problem, as you can see in the above photo.
To prevent uncultivated areas from becoming overgrown and generating weed seeds, mow and use Weed And Feed at the appropriate times and spread an organic mulch such as wood chips, pine straw, etc.
In my opinion, plasticulture gardening is the best way!RuralMoney.com
A black plastic mulch conserves soil moisture by preventing it from evaporating.
Only the exposed soil in the holes where the vegetable plants are growing lose water to evaporation.
This means that more moisture is available in the surrounding soil for plant roots, and you spend less time on watering the growing crops.
On sandy soils where water is quickly lost, this is an important benefit, but it’s also helpful during vacation periods when no one is around to water the garden.
Yet black plastic’s water conservation effect also works the other way around.
Rainfall and overhead irrigation don’t penetrate the plastic (unless you poke holes in the plastic with an iron rake–optional), so the vegetables rely entirely on water supplied through other means.
Remember to water the ground thoroughly before covering it in plastic at the beginning of the season.
I make sure the soaker hose is pinned around each plant for a good watering.
To water your crop after planting in plastic, pour water into the planting holes around the plants’ bases, or use a hose with sprayer, depending on the size of your garden.
Plasticulture Gardening Raises Soil Temperature
A layer of black plastic over bare soil raises the soil temperature 3 to 5 degrees F to a depth of between 2 and 6 inches.
This means that the growing area warms up earlier in the Spring, and the plants can be transplanted earlier.
Plant roots grow better in the warm soil, and the plants grow larger, so the benefit of plasticulture continues throughout the season.
Later on, the vegetables mature and can be harvested earlier.
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The disadvantage of increased soil temperature is in the warmer areas of the United States, where the soil may grow too hot for the plants.
High soil temperatures damage plant roots and harm the plant’s growth.
Excessive soil temperatures are less of a risk when the plant’s leaves spread out widely and shade the plastic.
An organic mulch like grass clippings, pine needles, hay, straw or compost spread over the black plastic also prevents the soil underneath it from growing to hot.
Plants Still Need Fertilizer
Vegetable crops need plant nutrients to grow, but heavy rainfall washes away the nutrients that are naturally present in the soil and those supplied via fertilizer.
By preventing rain from reaching the soil, plasticulture helps to preserve natural and artificial nutrients.
A byproduct of this protective effect is reduced soil erosion in areas that the rainfall is so heavy it washes away the soil itself.
A layer of black plastic does not make it difficult to apply fertilizer while the plants are growing.
Just apply fertilizer at the base and never on the leaves (to prevent burning).
After I pre-cut holes in the plastic, I add the amended soil mixture .
Then, it’s ready for planting seeds or seedlings.
Later in the season, supply your plants’ nutrient needs by applying a liquid fertilizer through the planting holes or apply a micro-nutrient mix fertilizer that I highly recommend from LDS PREPPER STORE.COM, following the package instructions.
Additional Benefits Of Plasticulture
Black plastic is easy to apply, provides a beneficial barrier between the plants and the soil, and reduces soil compaction.
The plastic simply goes over the surface of the prepared vegetable or flower bed, with the edges fastened down with landscaping pins.
Black plastic can be used on flat beds and raised beds, and in some areas of the U.S. with long growing seasons, multiple crops can be grown in the same bed.
The plastic usually lasts two years before it begins to break down.
By providing a barrier over the soil, the soil contamination of the plants is reduced, resulting in cleaner vegetables.
Additionally, fungal diseases that live in the soil are less likely to come into contact with plant leaves and infect them.
Plasticulture also reduces soil compaction by removing the need to walk on the soil for regular weed-removing patrols.
Wrapping up, I will be back to update this post with new photos of my plasticulture garden and video.
Fingers crossed the deer 🦌 will stay distracted with the salt lick!
You can download Lester Bray’s free eBook, Plasticulture Farming for Everybody, online at plasticulturefarming.com.
Image By Tonza Borden
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