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Hi everyone,
I did a bad thing ROFL!! I got 34 tomatoe plants. The poor things needed serious help!! Some are heirloom and in 4 inch pots and look strong. And 24 (4-6 packs) are fertilizer drained yellow :waa: But the price was right and I am a sucker for tomatoes :haha: DH has been really good about it and even went so far as to add a 6 foot by 25 foot area to the original garden, just for these. He till it yesterday and got some dry composted manure for me to add to the dirt at the bottom of each hole, when I plant them.
My question now is. The original garden is done with black paper, for weed block, and holes for plants to poke out. This add on section, we were thinking of doing old newspapers down and hay ontop of the newspaper. Would this work to block weeds and grass? Any suggestions? Just hay maybe? Never tried this method and know getting water through black paper is difficult, but want some type of weed block.
Suggestions, advise, anything appreciated.
Thanks and Happy Gardening
Marsh (In Massachusetts where spring has finally decided to come and go in a matter of minutes. It's summer hot now LOL )
 

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My dad did it that way for years. He'd put down layers of newspaper and wet them so they wouldn't blow away. Since that isn't pretty he put hay type mulch over the top. Use a nice thick wad of paper as it will break down, luckily the print isn't toxic the way it once was. I'm trying shredded paper this year as it may be easier to dig in at the end of the season so I can plant a cover crop.

Good luck with all those tomatoes!

PQ
 

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We use newspaper and chopped hay or wheat straw. It works well! I like the newspaper to be at least 6 pages thick though, otherwise I find some of the tougher weeds making their way through. If you go to the news printer you can get the leftover blank paper for free or cheap. Cardboard works well too.
-Heather
 

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I always use left over hay/straw. Since I am really bad at harding off plants that I buy in pots I have used a trick with the hay that seems to work. When I plant, I put a very thick pile of the hay all around the plants and even pile it carefully over the plant, just enought to protect them from the full sun (will protect from wind and light frosts also). Make sure the plant get some light and is not weighted down. As the plants grow and the hay gets packed down from rain, the plants pop out with very little problems.
 

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I never have weed problems with the hay. It may be either that it is too old, or it really has no way to grow at all with the newspaper under it. Hay has more nutrition in it than straw, since it is harvested at the peak of nutrition, where as the straw is harvested after the plant is spent. Compost would be great, looks nice too.
 

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When we moved out to our place, the garden hadn't been planted in three years, and was hard packed clay with sparse weeds. The fellow I hired to till it took one look and refused, saying he'd ruin his tiller on it. So--I covered it with wet newspaper, overlapping and layering so it was a nice thick layer, then piled any thing I could find on top, mostly pulled weeds and bags of grass hauled out here from curbside harvest. Planted squash--summer and winter--since it took little digging for each hole and the leaves spread over the space. By the next spring, the tiller guy was willing to risk his machine. Hay alone will work, but it needs to be about 12 inches thick and renewed frequently. The newspaper blocks the weeds pretty well and keeps the mulch from breaking down so fast.
 

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Instead of newspaper I use empty feed sacks (since I have tons of them around here). I pin them to the ground with U-pins and cut holes in them for the plants. Then I run soaker hoses and cover with hay. I have black plastic in the paths since crab grass is my biggest enemy here. I also cover that with hay. Every spring I gently scrape the remnants of the hay from the paths since it breaks down and basically turns into dirt (which the crab grass would LOVE to dig its' roots into) and put new hay down. I add the broken down hay to the garden beds. The feed sacks break down by the next spring and the U-pins are fairly easy to find again as they are also holding the plastic down in the paths. The main reason I use the U-pins is that we always have LOTS of wind here all summer long and I got tired of looking out back and seeing my hard work blown up against the fence. Every year I have to replace a few pins as they rust out, but it beats chasing paper and plastic around the garden.
 

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We are going on four years now using newspaper and straw or hay what ever we have.. And yes when you lay down the newspaper wet it first because it will blow away and HB uses about 6-8 layers.. Then he puts straw or hay on top. This year we are using more black plastic because of greenpeppers love it and we have a short growing season.. PS Marsha hope you didn't get those tomatoes from me.. Brenda
 
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Nespapers work, for a very short time. Burlap sacks work great for paths, and for areas to keep weed free. They are also movable, which provides flexibility in their use. MAde of natual fiber, they take a long time to deteriorate. Coffee shops roasting their own beans provide a wonderful supply of them.

My second choice would be cardboard slips used on pallets. They are quicker to lay down, are thicker and are accessible from a warehouse, they are very commonly used. Using these, you will likely be reducing waste in your area too by giving them a second life.
Cheers and happy gardening!
 

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If you'd like to see pictures of this, click on the webshots link below, go to the album called Straw Mulch Experiment. I've been updating the pics as we go along.
 

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We have used newspaper and straw with great success. Hay gave us to many weeds. One big improvement was to add died out grass clippings on top of the straw. We had a problem with wind and it made a differance. It also cut down on any weeds we did get.
 
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