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Here in New Orleans, with our mild weather, every sort of weed imaginable grows between the rows on my raised beds. I've tried growing grass between bed, but the grass always finds its way into the boxes. I've tried mulch - still have weeds. I've even tried strips on carpet. Eventually dirt collects on them & I get weeds. Weed block fabric tears to easily & if I cover it with mulch or leaves, I get weed seeds, that grow into weeds. I really don't want to use just bare dirt, just to keep down the mud facrtor.
I don't really have "spaces between beds". I just have some small beds wherever there is some sun and I could dig out what was there before.
I had ambition to grow creeping thyme around part of one bed, where I might eventually expand that bed with a small "terrace", but now is only bare soil, weeds and paving stones over a drainage pipe. But the seeds didn;t germinate and the bare root plant died.
I have used ,,, I know it's funny and some wouldn't hear of it in their garden,,, carpet.
Between the rows and around the beds were muddy and the carpet came out of a church so I used it.
If different colors, you can cover with thin layer of mulch. It does keep weeds from growing up through it but it does not stop weed seeds from growing into it from the top but the mulch would help with that problem too.
Honeybee - does the wind blow much where you live? It looks like your yard is pretty protected.
Here on the plains the wind blows so hard at times that leaves and even wood chips get blown away. And to top that off, the wind brings weed and grass seed and no amount of mulch will keep them down. So we, just like Jomoncon and Crickets have resorted to using strips of old carpet that were destined (originally) for the land fill. After a couple of years the weeds will start growing through the carpet which means it is time to move it to the yard (turn it over) and let the rain wash the dirt off and put it back down again (or throw it away and start over.)
This last fall I planted rye grass and clover over the whole garden and have been clearing a bed at the time for planting onions, mustard greens, chard, etc. so there is rye grass in the paths now and that is working pretty good so far.
I'm in the middle of working on this issue right now. I tried a layer of leaves but guess it wasn't deep enough or maybe the right type. Now I am putting down weed block and 2-3 inches of brown mulch on top. It may not last more than a couple of years but I figure I might be wanting to make some design changes by then anyway, so that's okay. This year, I just need the weed problem solved NOW. I do not like the current "jungle" atmosphere and am also worried that high grass and weeds might encourage snakes (eek!). It's funny, the backyard has been essentially bare dirt for the last couple of years due to drought, but this year -- wow, weeds everywhere!
I really should be planting seeds right now, but I want to get this heavy lifting done before the weather turns hot. Right now I just look out back and see this mass of green weeds everywhere and I get overwhelmed and can't even think. I'll feel much better and more organized when I can see nice raised beds surrounded by nice calm brown mulch.
Yeah, I know, HoneybeeNC, and I'm sure the depth is the key. I really only have enough leaves to feed my compost pile, and hubby gets grouchy when I snag bags from the neighbors. He was skeptical that the leaves were going to work in the first place and I wasn't adamant or consistent enough with hauling them in, so ended up with a too-thin layer, which of course didn't work.
So now we're moving on to the weed block/mulch answer, and we'll see how it goes. I just know I need those weeds outta here asap. They are driving me crazy.
I tried several things but leaves seem to work best. I like the live oak leaves. They are very small and dont decompose as fast as the larger softer ones do. They kill the grass except on the very edges and I use weed eater on that. Leaves are free but I walk on them so much they have to be topped off often. I had been thinking about carpet as an alternative. A neighbor of mine uses card board covered with wood chips. It works pretty well. I think whatever you do, you'll still have to trim around the boxes with a weed eater. We have real monsoon rains at times and I think the wood chips would float away here at my site.
My permaculture friends use thick layers of newspaper with hay on top. I have not tried that. The thick newspapers do keep the weeds from growing thru. I had another friend in Louisiana that used tar paper between his garden rows so he could garden in his wheel chair. That made me think that old composite roofing might work but it's rather impervious. Im not sure how that would work. The water would just run off instead of soaking in. In Mel's book he uses "walking boards" between the squares. I guess he must pull the weeds. I saw these plastic things that one of our nurseries uses for patrons to walk on between the outdoor displays. They are about 1" up off the ground and come in pieces about 6' long and 2' wide. They are probably very expensive so I did not even check to see.
At our Food Bank Garden, we use annual rye grass between the rows. As a cover crop it is then plowed under after the season is over. We let it grow about 6-10" tall before the first cut as it will then shade out some of the weeds. Since we plant under plastic this is a way to make it possible for the vegetables to grow without weeds next to the plants. However, we keep wide paths between rows planted with the rye grass for our volunteers to walk more easily for harvesting. We have about two acres under cultivation. We do have a problem with the weeds adjacent to the plastic as the mowers can't get there without ripping the plastic. We usually hand pull all the weeds but it gets really hard as the summer progresses. We are thinking of using leaves or grass clippings as a mulch to help prevent those weeds. Any other ideas?
I like the cardboard-and-mulch solution, but I know it may not last more than a season or two. I don't have a huge garden area, but the weeds between the raised beds were a nightmare. I just plopped the cardboard right on top of the, wet it down well so it would lie flat, and covered with shredded pine.
The tree trimmer guys (with the wood chipper machines) will sometimes dump their load of chipped branches in your yard if you catch them and ask. Because of the drought last year lots of trees died and have to be removed here. I have had three loads of wood chips dumped this year for free (they are just happy to have a place close by to get rid of it). It is a lot of work with the wheel barrow to haul it and spread in the garden and around trees and bushes but worth it since it helps prevent evaporation when we do get some rain (been a little dry this year too.) I have been putting it in the paths in the garden (not right next to the plants since I use hay for that/mulch.)
If you think about it, it's pretty amazing/sad that we are having this discussion. If there is anything humans have been doing for a long time, it's growing food - we gotta eat. So how is it that with all of our technology, all the cool stuff we humans have invented, we have not come up with a lasting weed barrier that allows rain water through, is heavy enough the wind can't blow it around, and is affordable for regular folk. We should have solved this problem by now.
Another thing we gardeners need is a quick (but sturdy) way of providing shade over part or all of the garden when it's needed. It gets so very hot here in Texas and that heat (direct sunlight) steals the moisture out of the soil (and leads to drought.) Again, we have had thousands of years of inventions, but haven't come up with some practical solutions for common gardening problems - why is that?
>> we have not come up with a lasting weed barrier that allows rain water through, is heavy enough the wind can't blow it around, and is affordable for regular folk.
Mulch is part-way there, aside from cost and wind and only lasting a season or year or two at most.
It helps to live somewhere where wood chips or bark are lumbering waste, but even then you have to pay hauling. Or, near any kind of city, EVERYTHING is at least $3 per cubic foot.
Or live where pine needles (pine straw) can be collected for free (and winds aren't bad enough to blow them away).
If I could have anything I wanted, I'd like some sun in my cloudy Northwester area! I live in the Pacific NorthWet.
A science fiction story invented "slow glass" where it took light as much as several years to pass all the way through the pane of slow glass. You could prop them up in a desert or in space, facing the Sun. They would soak up years worth of light, then emit the light out the other side (years later, and lasting for years). You could use them as ceiling panels (or garden canopies) to provide illumination.for the several years it took the light to trickle through it. With mirrors, you could load the glass with double or triple intensity light!
Maybe that's what they me4an when they say some vegetables need "at least full sun".
In fact , since you need shade and I need more light, we can just swap the panels back and forth every few years.
As long as I'm talking science fiction, I would also like to be able to borrow a body about like a dachshund, but also with arms and hands , for weeding and sowing and planting. Low to the ground and with my weight well distributed, I could reach the weeds or furrows without bending or stooping. Maybe a dachshund with big web feet so he wouldn't compress the soil.
And with teleportation or anti-gravity, I could trade clay for sand, import a cubic mile of manure, and ship water from the Great Lakes to Colorado and California. And the Sahara.
But mulch ain't bad, if you can afford a 4 inch layer every few years!
LOL RickCorey ~ I got a good laugh this morning. I like your sense of humor on this... and if you were a boy dachsund, you could even do the watering for your plants! 8 ))
Now, I do understand LadyPearls' need to vent. We have all been there. On this topic I consider myself blessed to live in an area that has free pinestraw for the effort of raking it up. Trees surrounding my home for a windbreak so the mulch doesn't blow off and the wind blows more pinestraw down to use for mulch.
If I can complain, I wish for more sunshine. The trees seem to impede the vegetable gardens' progress. I just can't find a suitable spot. OTOH, am always glad for the shade trees in the evening sun. Can't win for losing... Kristi
I would gladly trade some sunshine for some cloudy (and/or rainy) days, RickC!! When they get that slow glass thing figured out, will be glad to try it : )
And yep, it would be nice to be able to shape shift into a more effective weed killing form! (Dreaming is free, right?)
I would gladly give you some sunshine too, Kristi : ) Seems like a lot of trees not only shade the garden too much but thier roots get in there and take the moisture.
Guess wood chips, leaves, and old carpet mulch will have to do...
Yep,Honeybee, that Bermuda grass is a pain. That is why we made a fenced run (alley) around the garden for the chickens to scratch/eat it and keep it out of the garden. Sometimes they get lazy and we still have to get after the grass with the weedeater.
Exactly! No laws against it yet, and it isn't even fattening.
>> I would gladly trade some sunshine for some cloudy (and/or rainy) days, RickC
I think that is going to require teleportation. When I put up a teleporting rain canopy so the #!%*+## drizzle doesn't turn ALL the seedheads to moldy mush, I'll dial the "Destination" to your back yard.
And I'm very grateful for the not "fattening" part! LOL!
Yes, send all that moisture to my backyard. I would love to have a jungle back there (seriously!) We did a tour at Clark Air Base Phillipine Islands years ago, found out that jungle/rain forest is most interesting ! Of course here in TX it would probably be overgrown Bermuda and Johnson grass instead of mango and mohagany trees... Sigh...
A waterfall would be nice too, but a bit smalller than that..
Back when we were kids and reading SciFi books, I often wondered what the appeal of living under giant domes would be (compared to the great outdoors/open sky.) Now that I am an organic gardener, having a giant dome (with giant cooling fans of course) seems like a wonderful idea (only until they get that slow glass working of course...) : )
Ladypearl - our last Florida garden was a beautiful tropical jungle. When we moved in there was nothing but useless grass. Years later, there were tropical fruit trees, orchids, palms, bromeliads, and flowers.
The new owners ripped out most of what I had planted and put back useless grass! (sigh)
Oh Honeybee, all that work you did! How sad that it was not appreciated! Why anyone would want more grass to mow and fight with is beyond me. I say bring on the trees and flowers! (and a hamock and pina colada when the work day is done, *smile*).
BTW RickC, when are you going to invent that teleportation machine?
Ladypearl - unfortunately, most people look upon the "jungle look" as being untidy! Neat green lawns are all the rage in the neighborhood where I lived. I was always being contacted by the zoning department. I told them my garden was a "Wildlife Sanctuary" and they could look it up, 'cause there was nothing they could do about it.
>> I often wondered what the appeal of living under giant domes would be
I used to be very into the "Jerry O'Neil L5" space colony ideas. Then one speaker pointed out that SOME day space habitats might be livable, but that for the forseeasble future they would be like living in a big tin can. Cool idea, grim reality. One thing: they will teach us how to do 100% permaculture recycling. When re-supply is so expensiv e that even water costs as much as solid silver, they WILL recycle efficiently.
>> most people look upon the "jungle look" as being untidy!
That what my new (rental) neighbor is like. The prior tenant let me put a long, narrow perennial beda long our shared sidewalk (on her side). It wasn't TIDY enough for the new XXXXX next door. So I had to yank everything. So I took back the soil I had made carried there, also! Now there is tidy, sterile, hard clay.
And she killed bushes and even trees - even an azealea about to flower! Now it looks like a tidy desert. Green-pianted concrete would be no worse. When she was about to move in, she claimed that she wnated to garden and then eat raw vegtables. Since she moved in, I've come to understand that words from mouth are just silly noises intended to provoke the listener.
(I'm kind of bitter. I LIKED the prior tenant. When I apologized for temporary creative messes, she just laughed and said she grew up on a farm and LIKED seeing soil made and plants grow.)
Rick - wish I lived next door to you. We would be wonderful neighbors! Thankfully, I have great neighbors here. I try to keep the garden looking "nice" but, somehow ,vegetable gardens always seem to look "untidy" - at least mine does ^_^
Honeybee, here in HOT Texas we have learned to let some plants like poke weed and castor bean plants grow up close to the vegetable plants to provide some shade so it also looks a little untidy. Fortunately the neighbors are far enough away that they don't complain.
Rick, so sorry for your loss (of the nice neighbor who liked gardens.) Hopefully the new neighbor will come around (learn to enjoy gardening) someday. Maybe you could share some produce with her to help her with that.
Ladypearl - our raised beds get some shade during the hottest part of the day from a huge (unknown) tree. Although the canopy is welcome, the roots grow all over the backyard and suck up moisture from the garden and rob vegetables of fertilizer. So it's a mixed blessing ^_^
>> Maybe you could share some produce with her to help her with that.
I tried that even before she moved in, my cherry tomatoes were ripe. And offered her italian heirloom leaf broccoli since she said she wnated to eat raw vegetgables.And offered to plant some lettuce for her. Offered her several of my Lavatera.
No, no, no. But she took the cherry tomatoes to save for salad at dinner.
And I offered to plant whatever she wanted in the disputed bed (with all my nice soil, I am lucky she forgot that offer! I got my soil back.)
Whatever is going on inside her head, she picked fights with me and park management and killed almost everything living in her yard. No wonder her husband walks like a zombie and hardly ever says anything!
When I prompted her into talking about the gardening she SAID she wanted to do, she talks about a very severe form of square foot gardening: with GRIDS and absolute PLANNING and CONTROL and even CONSULTANTS so that everything will be IN ORDER and NEAT.
It made me cringe. I guess some people manage to have neat formal gardens, like the opposite of cottage gardens. But how do you get living things to be "neat"? Discipline? Bondage? Espalier?
People are strange - it takes all kinds.
Becky tells me that, without even trying, I have already gotten subtle revenge on her because my yard has a lot of living things, in cheerful disorder. That probably makes three things that drve her crazy: living, cheerfull, and disorder!
From things she says, I also think she wants to appear to her friends as much more classy and wealthy than she is. I've got to say, buying a very old manufactured home in a manufactured home park does not project an image of wealth!
I've thought of waiting until some of her friends come over, then ripping the arms off a Tee shirt, spilling a little beer on it, rubbing some soil on it, blacking half my teeth with a Magic Marker, and then wandering over and welcoming them to the "trailer park". Maybe ask if they would like to try some meth.
LOL RickC! You have quite a sense of humor about the whole thing so I predict that you will outlast her / win the war of the gardens!
You make me glad that we live on the plains of Texas (even though it is really HOT in the summer) where everything is spread out and big. We can pretty much do whatever we want to in/with our yard and nobody says a word.
Disorder (is that really what you call it when plants are involved??) has a much more natural look and I think the plants are more relaxed and productive. Yah for disorder!!! : )
That could be, there is a lot of it going around. Many of my neighbors are retired (i.e. somewhat poor), and they both seem tol go off to work each day. Plus, she hires contractors for everything, so they can't be THAT badly off.
On the other hand, my SO has a friend who confided how worried she and her husband are that they "only" have $500,000 in the bank. Becky and I laugh 'till we gasp each time we remember that one, and feel gratitude anew that we usually have anything in the bank, and usually have "enough" when we need it. Aren't hurting, aren't worried: that's true wealth.
P.S. The idea of HIRING someone to have the pleasure of working in MY garden never occurs to me, no matter how much Becky urges my hiring someone to prune. To the extent that anyone else gets their hands on it, to that extent it is less "my garden". I guess someone could send their pets and children away to be raised by someone else, but that isn'tt the point of having pets, children or a garden!
>> Try an experiment. Plant something for her in perfectly aligned order, and see how she responds to it.
I LIKE the fiendish devilitry you think of! I bet it would drive her crazy to see that I COULD sow in straight lines, but seldom do. Umm, "can't".
Though I came close recently when I put vermiculite into a 2 liter bottle so I could sow Bok Choy in little trenches with vermiculite over and under the seeds. They are starting to come up now in ... uggh ... straight lines.
You can see her clear-cut desert in the background of the second photo.
Nothing is straight in my garden. Even the boards for the raised beds repostition themselves overtime. I've thought of using a string between to two stakes to make rows straight, but always ask myself: "Why bother!" The vegetables don't care either. LOL