Clear Plastic over my whole graden

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by idontno, Apr 22, 2006.

  1. idontno

    idontno Well-Known Member

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    This was year 2006 ..i wanted to update ya'll on my project.I want to be weed free this year.I have a old basement filled with dirt i use for a garden.Tilled 4" of good cow manure into it. I put clear plastic over my whole garden and then will cut hole where the plant will be.Anyone ever tried this? Will my ground under the plastic warm up?Iput 2" of water on top of plastic to hold it down till i get some straw for mulch,and to hold the plastic down.The water is really warming up on top of plastic ,Hope it warms ground too.Any Good or Bad comments? Watering suggestions?Also anyone got a fool proof tomato for Kansas.The last few yrs. Mine really sucked.Going to try some in shady spots in the heat of the day..Thanks idontno
     
  2. BrahmaMama

    BrahmaMama Well-Known Member

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    I'm no pro at this but I don't think I would do the WHOLE thing. The problem you might run into is mold and fungus growing underneath it. (I've thought about it for a while too).
    I think what I'm going to try is placing wide strips of plastic, weed barrier (whatever I have kicking around) down in between the rows. That way too the rain can get at the plants root system. You may still have to weed a little here and there but it will certainly cut down on time! :cool:
    I've also tried planting things in beds but no way, never again, the weeds just take over. They are much easier to control in rows.
    Happy planting!
     

  3. Marcia in MT

    Marcia in MT Well-Known Member Supporter

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    With solid plastic, the soil loses the ability to exchange gasses, and you also will have to be extremely careful to get water to each plant in its own hole. And weeds will grow under clear plastic. Yes, you can mulch over it to block light, but if you're going to use mulch anyway, why bother with the plastic?

    A better material to use would be one of the various geotextiles: they look like cloth, either spunbonded or woven out of plastic strands. You will need to cut holes for your plants, but you won't necessarily need extra mulch. These permit gas exchange and are porous to water, so the ground won't go sour underneath. And they prevent weeds from growing -- unless there's a hole! They are very durable, too, and you can get a lot of seasons of use out of them.
     
  4. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    I think your problem will be the soil getting too hot. Even with the hole cut for the individual plants, I would bet they fry if the plastic is exposed to sunlight. The temp will raise well over a hundred degrees. You can lay the plastic down for a couple weeks of sunlight and kill everthing in that soil, then take it up and plant. I saw a lady's yard after someone took her storm window down and layed them in the grass for a couple of days whie they painted. It took several years to get the grass back.
     
  5. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

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    Ditto on advice of switching to the new cloth soil covers. that said, you are describing the way strawberries have been grown in California for decades. If this helps, here's how it's done:

    Beds are raised - strawberry beds are usually about 3-ft wide. (You don't have to go as high as CA does. Rows/beds are raised about 2 feet - it's part of the stoop law to protect health of farm workers). Both black and clear plastic have been used. The plastic is rolled over the bed/row and secured with weights (or rocks in your case) so that the wind doesn't rip it off, taking the plants with it. It covers the sides and top of the bed/row. Then holes are sliced and plants set in. You can do the same in your garden - all crops must be transplant seedlings, no direct seeding.

    Yes, it bakes and kills sprouting weeds yet the strawberry starts are strong enough to withstand the heat - they love it. (Also keeps the strawberries dirt free - except when the santana - or santa ana, as some pronounce it - are blowing). Starts will withstand the heat too.

    Watering must be done with a drip system. Rain rolls off into the paths/aisles.
    Another way that watering is done is using the flood method, flooding between the rows. (you don't see this as much any more - drip is more efficient.)

    As for molds etc growing under the plastic. Just doesn't happen. Must have something to do with the heat.

    Growers are switching to the new cloths - plants and soils breath better. Also, liquid ferilizer can be lessened in the drip system because the soil is healthier with the cloth. Helps the bottom line $.

    Now, if you do decide to use plastic, because you've already got it, you will need to give the plants nutrients as you water.

    As for mixing in aged manure then plastic cover, you'll want to rest the soil for about 1 week (as I recall) before planting. The manure adds heat to the soil and really bakes with plastic cover. It takes, as I remember, about a week to moderate - maybe a little longer. Remember, using a covered system, the nutrients don't readily leach out and wash away. So use the manure sparingly.

    Aside from keeping the strawberries clean (wholesale prices of strawberries drop dramatically when the berries are dirty - we always loved when the santanas blew - we'd get all our canning strawberries for a year's supply of strawberry jam. Cents on the dollar!) - raised beds with plastic also let the growers push the season a little earlier tricking the plants into thinking it's later in the year because the soil was so warm. You can do the same. (Of course I must add that I'm speaking of zone 10 - it frosts maybe once every 10-20 years.) In your case, frost has to be over however if you normally have to wait a month for the soil to heat to plant warm soil crops (cukes, melons etc), you'll be able to push the planting quite a bit earlier. Add grow tunnels and I'll bet you could get at least a couple of months of extra growing time in your garden.

    It's a growing method that has its advantages. Hope this helps you a bit.
    Happy gardening.
    BW
     
  6. Chris in Mich

    Chris in Mich Member

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    Clear plastic won't stop the weeds.

    Mold should not be a concern.

    Soil-to-air gas exchange is a valid concern, as is water infiltration. Reusing the same piece of plastic should put enough holes in it to minimize these concerns.

    6 mil plastic mulch is very nice, 4 mil is MUCH shorter lived.

    Plasitic holds in moisture, cloth breaths - plastic mulching minimizes the amount of watering you'll need to keep your plants healthy.

    Black plastic may be too hot for regions more southern, use white or 2-sided white/black plastic instead

    Red mulch makes tomato plants think that they're crowded, so they grow stronger and more quickly and set fruit sooner.

    Light blue and white mulching has shown similar results in potatos.

    Other colors/patterns are being experimented with.
     
  7. idontno

    idontno Well-Known Member

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    OK..Lot of good information here.Ok for a update.I put plastic down 4/22.Here is what i've seen so far.With manure tilled in the soil it got hot(maybe 120) for a week,then has come down to 90. I lifted the plastic up and it's nice and toasty,with lots of moisture trapped under the plastic.Soil temperture is 90 degrees.Soil temp. of soil outside of the plastic is 60 degrees.No weeds under it other than a few on the outside the is getting some air.No mold at all.I can see a few worms under the plastic so..I think it good to go.I know I will need to watch soil temperture almost everyday.But it still cool here and i dont think I will have a problem till later.The only draw back so far is I can't put seeds in the ground.All of the plants have to be started before planting.But thats no problem I got lots of plants ready to go in the ground.I'm putting all my plant inside a wire cage with a white trash bag over them.That has really worked for me when it still cool.ALso i get a lot of wind.really protect them .If they get hot roll up the bottom of the bag a lil.Later on i cut out the tops for more air.Then when they get big enough i take the cage off completly or leave it for my vine plants. All I'm planting in it is warm weather plants ,so I think my soil temperture is great.I going to make small holes around the plants for wartering them plus where my stake holes for the cages will give it more water.I need to get some Ph reading and hope i'm close for the plants i plant.Which are watermelon,cucumbers,peppers, tomatoes. Wish me luck, I try to update this every week or so.... :dance: idontno
     
  8. vulcan

    vulcan Well-Known Member

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    I learn to garden from and old family member, and he told me once about plastics and he was scare of it, plastic decompose believe it or not and what ever the product of a dicomposing plastic is , well is not natural and it goes to your plants. Recently I had the experience with old plastic planters, I planted flowers on them for three years in a row, and in the last year the plants were all deformed, I dont know but something tell me "weeds are natural" plastic is not. :hobbyhors
     
  9. idontno

    idontno Well-Known Member

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    Part of my garden is doing great the other isn't.Watermelons and cucumbers are nice.Growing like weeds.Tomatoes,and pepper suck.I think they are geting too wet.So cutting back on water for them.It been HOT here.around 100 everyday.Ground temperture is 90.I have a thin layer of straw over the top of it.maybe 2" thick.It gets hot in day time i just give it a sprinkle of water and it cools the straw down a lot.All of my vines have growen 3-4 " this week ,from starter plants.Other stuff sucks.But I think its the heat and wind we are getting here.I have tomatoes plants in the shad that are doing good ,others in full sun are dying along with peppers.But the neat thing ...no weeds.not a one.plastic is still a good as new.I can walk on it and no holes.The only thing i'
    m not looking forward to is taking it up this fall.But thought if it's still good leave it for the winter.....Anyway lots of you dont agree with my garden,But I had to try.I looking forward to fall.See if I can keep the tempature up longer after frost.Going to make a cap for them when that times comes....Later...idontno
     
  10. idontno

    idontno Well-Known Member

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    Ok....I just started year # 2 with my fully covered garden.I'm using clear plastic again,after having good luck with it.I left the plastic down all winter and this week i folded it all up and burnt it.Soil was really fluffed up and didn't need tilling.I just dug holes where the this year plants needed to be.The soil where i dug was full of worms and really composted.Then put 1/2 shovel full of chicken manure in each hole.1/2 of the holes got a full shovel in them.I was going to see what would be the best. [​IMG] Here is a shot [​IMG] and here IMG]http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f275/idontno51/garden3.jpg[/IMG] Covered it over with plastic and watered( to keep it from blowing away).[​IMG] like this [​IMG] Now all i got to do is wait for a few days for it to warm up..then let it cool.and plant.I didn't have no problems with mold ,weeds,or tranferring gases with the soil. I think if worms can live under the plastic and thrive...So will my plants.Again this year.It was one of the hottest summers we ever had last yr.I watered once a week and then it was just to cool thing down.I mulched when the temp got high and it cool right down..I had a really good garden last yr and it was hassle free.No weeds or mud ..and i walked all over the plastic last yr and this year before i removed it.Where there wasn't straw over it ,it got brittle but where the straw was it was nice and still plyable.If i can answer any question i'll be glad too.Any comments? . idontno
     
  11. idontno

    idontno Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG] This is the manure mix then the end results [​IMG] idontno
     
  12. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    thanks for showing your experience using the plastic.

    I'm going to use clear plastic to solarize a part of my garden that is going to be 'no till'. This should help warm the soil, as I see you've noticed in your experience using clear plastic. I am putting it over a grass area for a month before completely covering that in deep grass clipping and straw mulch. But I'm either going to put a thin layer about 4 inches deep, or mulch, or leave it. On that I will seed buckwheat to grow until it's about a foot high, but before blossoming. Then I'll cut that by either mowing, or string weed whacker. Leave it to decay for a week or so, so it will become my 'green manure'. After that I'll cover it with the rest of the deep mulch over a foot thick. From there I'll start putting in the transplants for the 'no till' garden. I'll fill in holes with mix of black earth (peaty topsoil) and compost mix where the plants go in. I'll fertilize with compost tea through the growing season.

    The clear plastic is part of an integral part of the pre garden process I've used before to solarize and heat the ground, kill the growth as effectively as roundup, and retain moisture. If it's really dry, I'll water the ground under the plastic once in a while. That should entice earthworms also to take up residence.
     
  13. idontno

    idontno Well-Known Member

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    Here is my update.Here is what I did... But I got a late start on it.(wheat harvest,alfalfa,and planting sorgram,milo,)Just got it going.Soil temp. was good.Watered each hole and planted. I shaded all plants till they get used to the heat.Put straw all over the plastic.Ready to enjoy.. idontno