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Black Plastic Garden

 

Who really enjoys pulling weeds from a garden? There is a very efficient way to grow a garden without having all of the weeds. It involves the use of black plastic as a covering over the entire garden.

 

Advantages

  • Minimal weeds. You will have very few weeds in your garden. The only place they could possibly grow is at the base of each plant and if they do, they are easily removed. You are no longer watering long furrows that soon fill up with weeds.
  • Less Water. You will use a lot less water because you are not filling up furrows with water and letting it soak in and grow weeds.  
  • Warm ground in early spring. The black plastic actually will keep the ground warm during the early spring when you first place your plants out. But, as the season progresses and the plants grow, they will shade the plastic near them and keep the roots from becoming too hot.  
  • Work in the garden whenever you want to. Since the plastic will allow you to walk in the garden anytime, like right after a rain storm or after watering, you have fulltime access to your garden to work or harvest whenever you desire. 
  • Minimal time and equipment is needed for this garden. It is not necessary to till the ground because you work with the area only in the specific 10 inch circle to be planted.  

Materials and Tools Needed

  • Roll(s) of 6 mil black plastic of sufficient size to cover your entire garden. Where multiple rolls will be used, allow for about 12 inches of overlap. Do not use clear plastic because it will let the sunlight through and weeds will grow beneath the plastic.  
  • Tires, soil, rocks, bricks, pipes and boards can be used to hold the plastic down. You can usually get free used tires from your local tire store. Do not use too small of a rock or they will get mixed in with the garden soil. Dirt dug up from the planting holes can be used to spread along the edges to keep the plastic down but some will be needed to put back into the hole, mixed with rich mulch.  
  • A carpet knife.  
  • A nail.  
  • A shovel.  
  • Garden plants and seeds as desired.  
  • Hose
  • Bucket
  • Root Stimulant

Instructions

  • Two weeks before planting time, spray the area with a weed/grass killer to get rid of what is already there.   
  • If you think that you may have a lot of weed seeds in the garden, water it for a couple of weeks to let the seeds germinate and then spray it with a weed killer.  
  • Stretch the plastic over the entire garden, overlapping rows of plastic where necessary.
  • Use tires, rocks, bricks, pipes, boards or soil along the edges and the overlapped joints to hold the plastic down. See below:

Layout

  • Everywhere you want to plant a plant, using a carpet knife or sharp tool, cut a square by cutting an "X" about 12" in length in the plastic, then you can fold the plastic down into the hole and this will help hold the plastic down. See below:

10 Inch Hole

  • Dig a hole about 10"-12" deep and that wide and replace half of the dirt mixing it with rich mulch. See below: 

Mixing Mulch

Mixing Mulch

  • Mix the mulch and dirt thoroughly. With the added mulch to the dirt, notice the contrast of the soil in the hole and the dirt dug from the hole in the upper left corner. The soil in the hole is rich in comparison. See below:

Mixing Mulch

  • Place the plant in the ground. See below:

Planting the Plant

  • Let the flaps of the plastic fold down into the hole so the soil secures the plastic, not allowing wind to get under and whip it around.
  • Water each plant from a bucket of water that contains root stimulant.  Make sure to soak each plant thoroughly.  
  • If you need to plant a long row of plants, like corn, cut a strip of plastic about 6 inches wide for the length of the row. Then plant the seeds as usual. Be sure to line the edges of the strip with the soil that you dig up to prevent the wind from blowing the plastic.  
  • If you plan to water by soaker hoses, feed them under the plastic and make sure that they are near each plant. Do not put soaker hoses on top of the plastic as this will only cause the water to remain on top of the plastic and not soak into the ground, where it is needed.  
  • If you plan to water by sprinklers, set them up so that they cover the entire garden, or can be moved to provide such coverage.  
  • No matter which watering method you use, run a sprinkler on the plastic for a while so you can determine where the puddles will be.  
  • Then get a nail and poke holes where each puddle is until there are no puddles left. From then on, any water that falls on the plastic will immediately drip through to the soil and not puddle up on top of the plastic.  
  • Where desired, place tomato cages and they too will help hold the plastic down.  
  • At the end of the season, remove and discard the plastic and let the moisture and air of the off season replenish your garden’s nutrients.

Variations

 

If digging the hole for each plant is a big chore because you have lots of holes to dig or the ground is hard, consider renting a motorized post-hole digger. This has a small engine sitting on top of a pair of handlebars that are attached to a long auger that is about 10" to 12" in diameter. It takes two people about 30 seconds to produce a nice hole about 15" deep. This huge hole will hold water and nutrients and tests have shown that the increased crop yield will more than pay for the rental, not to mention saving the wear and tear on the body and mind.

 

Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center, Inc.

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