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weed fabric vs. newspaper

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walshevak
middlemamma
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ModernDayBetty
tkdtara84
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Post  tkdtara84 Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:38 pm

I'm almost ready to fill my boxes up with MM, but I can't decide whether to use weed barrier fabric or MM. If I recall, the book suggests either. Is there a big difference. I'd love to use newspaper since it's free, but if it will cause weed issues later, then I'll spring for the weed fabric up front.

Also, if I do use newspaper, how many sheets/how thick should I make it?
tkdtara84
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Post  ModernDayBetty Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:06 pm

Newspaper will biodegrade quickly, weed cloth lasts 5 years. If you have pervasive weeds it would be suggested to use weed cloth from what I've found out.

I'm doing both, rather than digging up the grass, the paper will help kill it off and get it to biodegrade, but I have a lot of icky weeds.
ModernDayBetty
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:32 pm

Would you mind telling me the kind of grass you are putting it on top of? The grasses that are already green are fescues, ryegrasses, and bluegrasses. The grasses still brown are zoysias and bermudas in your neck of the woods.

Green now or brown still?

It makes a difference in my opinion because the greener grasses are not as durable as the brown grasses. Most green grasses don't grow sideways and spread with rhizomes like the brown grasses. My point is that if you have the brown grasses, you may want to use the weed barrier. With the green grasses, newspaper should be more than enough.

I don't even put anything down on my fescues and bluegrasses.....just straight MM right on top. Never had a problem.
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Post  tkdtara84 Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:14 am

Oh, good. Our grass, what little we have of it, is green. We bought our house after an elderly couple had passed away. The yard hadn't been taken care of in years, so we had overgrown everything, and there were two cedar trees that shaded the yard and dropped needles everywhere, killing the grass. What we do have is not good grass, but there's not much of it anyhow. On the bright side, all the years of unraked leaves have made a nice layer of topsoil-- not that that matters in SFG, but it will be good for the flowers.

I'll double check prices of weed cloth, but if I can get by with newspaper, then I'll go with that. I'd like to start saving my money for some transplants. I just saw some tomatoes at Lowe's-- $7. I didn't realize they would be that high. I can't believe they have them yet, either, as it will be about a month before people could plant them in our area anyhow. Next year I might try my hand at starting seeds myself.
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Post  middlemamma Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:39 am

I'd shop around...I have never paid that much for a tomato start. Try some smaller hardware stores, and maybe some nurseries, or even craigslist for folks like we have here on the forum that grow starts and get rid of their extras for a couple bucks a piece through craigslist. Another place to get low price, great starts is a farmers market. $7 for a tomato plant is way too much IMO.

Good Luck!
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Post  tkdtara84 Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:44 am

Thanks for the tip. We do have a good farmer's market here, but I hadn't thought of that. I have never bought a vegetable start in my life, so I have no idea what is good/too much. I'm starting to get nervous, to tell the truth!
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Post  middlemamma Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:47 am

Don't get nervous...you are gonna love it. And some stuff you can do seeds right in the ground and actually have BETTER luck than with a start. A good one for that is cukes. When you have no chance of frost. Also beans..same approach. Keep on keeping on it's all going to come together!
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Post  ModernDayBetty Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:11 am

Last year I got large tomato plants from costco, about two to three feet high, 3 different types for $15. started from seed this year but they were amazingly delicious last year, it was my only successful crop last year in my row garden. Beefsteak, roman, and heirloom.
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Post  walshevak Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:09 am

Look at the smaller starts, about4-5" high. I've seen them at Lowes in the $3.50 range. And be sure to check out the veggie 4 cell paks that usually run about $2 for other starts. I just bought cell paks of kale because Lowes put them on sale for $.98. It can go out right now. You might even get by with a cell pak or two of lettuce if you put it in right away. If tomatos are not supposed to go in for about a month, it sounds like you have not reached your last frost date.

A bit more pricey than than just seeds but instant gratification for a cool weather crop that may be too late to direct seed. I did both because of the sale. Transplanted 3 lettuces to a square and then planted 6 holes of seed in the other 2/3 of the square. Just to see what would happen. Did the same with bok choy in early Mar and am harvesting the transplants now as well as watch my little seedlings grow.


Kay

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walshevak

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Post  camprn Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:12 am

tkdtara84 wrote:I'm almost ready to fill my boxes up with MM, but I can't decide whether to use weed barrier fabric or MM. If I recall, the book suggests either. Is there a big difference. I'd love to use newspaper since it's free, but if it will cause weed issues later, then I'll spring for the weed fabric up front.

Also, if I do use newspaper, how many sheets/how thick should I make it?
I declined to use the weed barrier as I wanted the earthworm to be able to migrate into my boxes. 5-10 sheets thick of newspaper should do the trick. Or you could use cardboard that isn't waxed.
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Post  ModernDayBetty Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:29 am

walshevak wrote:Look at the smaller starts, about4-5" high. I've seen them at Lowes in the $3.50 range. And be sure to check out the veggie 4 cell paks that usually run about $2 for other starts. I just bought cell paks of kale because Lowes put them on sale for $.98. It can go out right now. You might even get by with a cell pak or two of lettuce if you put it in right away. If tomatos are not supposed to go in for about a month, it sounds like you have not reached your last frost date.

A bit more pricey than than just seeds but instant gratification for a cool weather crop that may be too late to direct seed. I did both because of the sale. Transplanted 3 lettuces to a square and then planted 6 holes of seed in the other 2/3 of the square. Just to see what would happen. Did the same with bok choy in early Mar and am harvesting the transplants now as well as watch my little seedlings grow.


Kay

She's in a zone 5b, when I lived in Spokane, Wa, zone 6 our season wasn't long enough for small starts. The season is too short and you end up with green tomatoes at first frost. At least that has been my experience.
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Post  hartge01 Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:04 pm

I tilled the grass under, actually removed it after tilling, and placed my boxes level with the ground. That is I sunk mine 6" down.

I didn't use paper or weed-cloth, since as someone mentioned before, I was hoping the earthworms would come in.

My biggest weed problem are those that blow in, not from underneath. And with those I have to wait until they get big enough to grab before I can pull them up otherwise I am removing some of my mix!.
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Post  acara Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:22 pm

$3.50 tops for transplants in 4" pots from a box store .... anything more than that is criminal IMO.

As far a the weedblock goes .... the blue vs brown is good advice.

Also if your worried about the earthworms getting in, you could always use the weedblock & introduce the worms yourself (search wormtube on the forum).

Another cheap form of weedblock would be old/used carpet. That works like a champ & most folks are very happy to let you haul it away.
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Post  jazzymaddy Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:05 pm

acara wrote:
As far a the weedblock goes .... the blue vs brown is good advice.


Can you 'splain why blue is better than brown? Other than the obvious poo reference (can you tell I have elementary school age kids... and a husband?) All I have is grayish weed cloth that we bought a year ago. Should I spring for a roll of blue stuff?

Thanks,
Tracy
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Post  tkdtara84 Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:22 pm

I just scored some weed cloth from Big Lots for $5 for 45 feet! I'll be returning the $20 package from Lowe's. Smile

I did double check the tomato starts, and they do have smaller ones for $3.50. I'll have to ask my grandpa what he used for tomato starts when he gardened. Growing up, he had a huge garden in our backyard, so I just watched him some but never participated since he handled it all, and we always had more veggies than we could eat. He was kind of cheap, so I'm assuming he didn't buy the big ones, and we always had a bunch of tomatoes.
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Post  acara Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:06 pm

jazzymaddy wrote:
acara wrote:
As far a the weedblock goes .... the blue vs brown is good advice.


Can you 'splain why blue is better than brown? Other than the obvious poo reference (can you tell I have elementary school age kids... and a husband?) All I have is grayish weed cloth that we bought a year ago. Should I spring for a roll of blue stuff?

Thanks,
Tracy

The grasses that are already green are fescues, ryegrasses, and bluegrasses. The grasses still brown are zoysias and bermudas in your neck of the woods.

Green now or brown still?

It makes a difference in my opinion because the greener grasses are not as durable as the brown grasses. Most green grasses don't grow sideways and spread with rhizomes like the brown grasses. My point is that if you have the brown grasses, you may want to use the weed barrier. With the green grasses, newspaper should be more than enough.

I don't even put anything down on my fescues and bluegrasses.....just straight MM right on top. Never had a problem.

BBG's advice is applicable in most regions .... the zoysias and bermuda grasses are the ones that will typically survive about anything & grow up through the MM in your boxes
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