As a long time gardener, I have come to hate weeding. I have tried pulling weeds every time I walk by, hoeing the beds, and yes, even threatening the weeds. But, they always seem to win. That is, until I found plastic mulch. This is just the best thing ever for gardening. It virtually eliminates the need for weeding, while contributing positive aspects to your plants growth. Now, don’t be misled. There will be an occasional weed peek out of the hole that you have made for your plant, but this is minimal compared to other methods of gardening.
Plastic mulch is extruded from clear polyethylene resin into sheets of film of varying widths and lengths. It will help to minimize nutrient leaching; will keep the soil warmer; will reduce soil moisture evaporation; will produce earlier and higher yields; and will make weeding virtually nonexistent. There are several different colors of plastic garden mulch available. They come in black, olive, red, blue, brown, metallic and white on black. They are recommended for different plants and will perform slightly differently.
To install you simply work your ground as you would at any other planting time. You must then put a drip irrigation system down before you cover your ground with the mulch. The mulch will not allow water to penetrate, so this is the only way your plants will get watered. Next you put your mulch down, simply by rolling it out and fastening down with ground staples. Poke a hole where you want to put your transplants or seeds. I would recommend putting a timer on your drip irrigation system. There you go. This is as maintenance free of a garden as you can get.
Some manufacturers will claim that you can get multiple years out of a piece of mulch. I have always just pulled it up and discarded it at the end of each season. Your holes will not be in the same space where you want to plant your new crops. Plus, I like to rework the ground in between each planting season.
The black mulch will increase the soil temperature 3 degrees to 5 degrees at a depth of 2 to 6 inches. This is the area of greatest root growth early in the season. Warm roots grow faster and accelerate plant growth.
The red mulch will warm the soil temperature by 4 degrees to 6 degrees. It is the recommended choice for tomatoes, peppers and melons.
The olive mulch has the best soil warming properties. It will warm the soil by 8 degrees to 10 degrees. Melon yields have shown as much as a 25% increase with this mulch.
As you should be able to tell by this article, I think this is the gardener’s most valuable new tool. It gives us time to enjoy the fruits of our harvest, rather than spend back breaking hours pulling weeds. Not to mention the added benefits that the plants receive. This is a win, win product.
Tammy opened advancegreenhouses.com in 2002. She started gardening with her Dad at 2 years old and has been an avid gardener ever since. She enjoys working in her greenhouse starting plants and overwintering her tropical plants. Another great joy is the ability to share the experience of greenhouse growing with others.