Use Weeds Killer to Keep Weeds Out of My Flower Garden?

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I develop applications for our company -- mainly support the production line operation.

My garden is small; but my time allocated to gardening is even smaller... I will try the hand weeder tools that Doug Kanter has suggested. They sound promising.

Good luck with whatever way that you choose for your garden.
Jay Chan
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Thanks! :-)
I intend to setup a community, the food raise are use for support the community. I don't know should call it as garden or farm. <g>
Cheers, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote in

When I add something (which is rare) I usually just make a slit with a razor or if it's big, I cut a V shape or similar, leaving part of the fabric attached. (I think instructions recommend an X shape.) Bulbs don't seem to have a problem pushing the flap and mulch aside to grow through the opening. I do get a some soil on the fabric, but I usually leave it unless it's big pile, then I just scoop it up, push it back into an opening or throw it in the lawn. If you've got too many open holes to patch, you should probably just throw the fabric out, even though it should last 15 years. Especially if you perpetually find yourself with more plants than openings.

I'm using large pine bark nuggets and haven't noticed a problem with that. What kind of mulch are you using?

I don't add stuff to my flower bed, but I guess you could make more flaps next to your plants and stick stuff in a pile under them. If you're feeling the need to mix things in, well that's another story.
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I use shredded cedar chips mulch. Seem like large nuggets that you use work better than shredder chips because they last longer. I even found two groups of termintes in the shredder cedar chips after I had put them in the flower garden for just two years. This is one of the reason why I want to remove the mulch (but I keep delaying doing this for one thing or the others). I probably need to remove them and put them in a compost pile (that I should have done one year ago).
Do you think termintes will bother large pine bark nuggets? How long do you think the large nuggets will remain effective in keeping termintes out?

Sooner or later, you will need to put amendment to the soil, right? How do you get away from doing this?
Jay Chan
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote in

I haven't the slightest idea. I didn't know termites would eat or live in cedar (or I could be thinking of something else). I did find some termites in a buried tree stump far behind the house, but haven't seen any in the mulch. [Dumb question: are you sure they are termites?]
I used large pine bark nuggets because they are relatively heavy (so wind doesn't blow them away as much), large (so they don't slip through cracks in the fabric), have less surface area (compared to equivalent volume of other mulch) and most importantly, they were on sale. As far as pests, I've seen slugs underneath wet nuggets, so you may reconsider if you grow stuff that slugs like to eat. They don't seem to bother my plants.

Come to think of it, I did dig a hole next to a rose bush and buried a couple of banana peels (potassium, etc) down there. I'm not really into growing flowers, so if I needed a specific amendment, I probably wouldn't know it. When I put in the bed, it was overgrown with all sorts of stuff, but I just covered it with landscape fabric, so quite possibly that old stuff has been serving as compost (or slug food) for the last few years. I'm pretty happy as long as the flower bed doesn't look like the ditch next to the road and I don't have to weed it constantly.
If you are insane, you can bury a gradually perforated pipe under the bed. When you want to fertilize, drop your fertilizer down an access tube and flush it in with water. Check out tips on using prefabricated perforated drainage pipes to abate soil clogging. However, some of those methods (drain sock) may or may not prevent your fertilizer from getting out.
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Seem like you don't need to add any amendment to your garden yet.
Seem like if we need to add amendment to the soil where it is covered in landscape fabric, we will have to open/remove the landscape fabric partially or completely. This sounds like something that we need to schedule it in advance (such as a plan like "I may need to remove the landscape fabric after x years if a soil test indicates that the soil is lack of something, and then I can put the landscape fabric back").
I am sure that this can be done. I just didn't think of this when I put the landscape fabrics to my flower garden a couple years ago. Without knowing this in advance and making a committment to do this, I am now kind of surprised by the idea of removing and putting back the landscape fabrics.
Honestly, I don't really have any better idea either. If I don't put mulch on it, I will have to deal with a lot more weeds, and I may have a hard time to remove weeds if they have formed solid root into the soil. If I put mulch without landscape fabrics, the mulch will be mixed with soil, and I will still need to deal with more weeds. If I put mulch and landscape fabrics, I will have to remove/open landscape fabrics to add amendment. Seem like I am better off sticking with making as little change as possible; this means I should remove the mulch that is infected with termintes (this is the minimum that I should do), leave the landscape fabric there, and put fresh new mulch (probably the kind that you use). Also order a long handle weeder to remove weeds that manage to grow among the mulch. And worry about adding amendment later.
This sounds like a plan.
Jay Chan
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wouldn't
If I were you, I would pull out the landscape fabric, use wet newspaper for weed suppression, and follow the lazy gardeners guide to........ lazy gardening.
Lasagna Gardening http://www.motherearthnews.com/menarch/archive/issues/173/173-050-01.htm
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The landscape fabric is already there. I installed it a couple years ago. I would have to remove the landscape fabric and replace it with newspaper if I followed your advice. That would be more work for me not less.
Actually, I don't quite understand why we would use newspaper instead of landscape fabric. The only benefit that I can see of using newspapers is that they are free. But if we go through the trouble of putting newspapers to block weeds, we "may" be better off going all the way and install landscape fabric instead. The landscape fabric should block weeds better than newspaper, right? What's the reason of using newspaper instead of landscape fabrics anyway?
I am not trying to be negative. I just don't understand.
Jay Chan
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lazy
Newspaper will decompose gradually, and if you want to add solid "amendments", like compost, before the newspaper breaks down completely, all you have to do is poke holes in it with your garden fork.
Jay, I'm curious about two things:
1) In any given week, how many hours of work do you think is appropriate to keep your garden in shape?
2) During the "special weeks", at the beginning & end of season, how many hours of work do you expect?
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Seem like a good idea. I assume the earthworm living in the soil will take care of pulling organic material from the surface to inside the soil. This means I don't need to actually work the amendments into the soil. Great!

Normally, I really don't have a block of uninterrupted time for gardening. I can only steal some time here to plant a flower, make some time there to remove some weeds. I tend to spend only 10 to 15 minutes in the morning to do anything related to gardening and that includes the time to water the flower boxes and the flower garden, and walk around the garden to just enjoy the view.
In the special week in the spring, I can convict my wife to let me spend some time working on the garden, and that is when I get most things done. Here, I am talking about one afternoon work.
Jay Chan
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I'm outstanding with my job, so sometime when I asked a question, people tend to think I'm "testing" them. The fact is, I really don't know or just don't understand. :-(
Your words touching me. <g> So, I will try my best to reply you. ;-)

instead
of
of
After some thinking, I think comparing two may make it easier to understand.
Newspapers will decompose and become soil amendment. Landscape fabric will not.
Newspapers will not block nightcrawler(earthworm) from pulling plant debris to their tunnel as their food. Landscape fabric will, I don't think you will find much earthworm under the landscape fabric.
Newspapers will not block air and water to the soil, since they decompose quickly. Landscape fabric may, after sometime the holes may blocked by roots.
Newspapers: For adding soil amendment(carbon/organic matter), just spread it on top of organic mulch(newspaper/manure/leaf...), eventurely it will find it way to soil by critters. Landscape fabric: Had to put it under the landscape fabric, or else only nutrient will pass through the landscape fabric in liquid form, but not much of organic matter.
Newspapers: When weeds find the way through the old newspaper/mulch, just put new newspaper/mulch on top of weeds. Done! Landscape fabric: Do you ever think of putting new landscape fabric on top of old landscape fabric? ;-)
Newspapers: Never need to replace, just adding new one. Landscape fabric: It's a nightmare to replace a landscape fabric that have plant root grow into it.

Using a sickle to cut what(weeds) above the mulch, leave it there, add some new mulch. I can cover 50-ft x 5-ft within one hour, and it can last for two months. Don't afraid of walking on the mulch, this will not really compact the soil, walk on bare soil are another story.
HTH, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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Thanks for the excellent analysis. I couldn't have said it better myself.
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myself.
Thanks for your compliment. :-)
Cheers, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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wouldn't newspaper negate "organic".... ? Unless you get a newspaper printed with organic ink... : )
-j

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Almost all newspaper in this country is printed with soy based ink. Personally, I'm not crazy about the newspaper idea, but you could do much worse things to yourself than use it as mulch.

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much
I never try newspaper, but from what I read, I believe it's good for organic no-till home gardenning. Old newspaper are available to nearly each home, using as a mulch are another choice from recycle, and far better than go to landfill.
I don't using it because I'm going to large scale and sustainable, and will try to avoid any external input. Instead of buying some old newspaper, I prefer use plant debris from my land as mulch.
Regards, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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... > The use of newspaper as a mulch may or may not be "organic" > because ... Most black ink used in most newspaper is soy based which > would probably be OK ... www.ibiblio.org/rge/archive/980523_9875.html - 4k - Cached - Similar pages [ More results from www.ibiblio.org ]
The New Homemaker: Merits of Mulching ... kind of ink they use. Soy based newspaper inks are nontoxic, and fine to use for mulching. Because newspaper by itself is light ... www.newhomemaker.com/hands/garden/mulch.html - 23k - Cached - Similar pages
Links to General Emergency Preparedness Information presented by ... ... herb + More cake-in-a-jar recipes + Newspaper Logs + Oil ... y2k phone tip + Potatoes in the mulch + Smells in ... soya grits + Solar water distilling + Soy cakes + Soy ... www.instantknowledgenews.com/P134.HTM - 78k - Cached - Similar pages
How do you recycle newspaper ... With the advent of soy and other natural inks, papers can be utilized for ... Another way to recycle newspapers is in the garden, using the newspaper as mulch. ... utut.essortment.com/newspaperrecycl_piz.htm - 5k - Cached - Similar pages
The Value of Mulching Plants ... I would like this to be used. Are you interested in this? "Dear student, I do not use newspaper mulch unless the ink is soy ink and safe. ... www.organic-growers.com/forum/Part2/Question34.htm - 5k - Cached - Similar pages
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Newspapers are primarly carbon. According to one source[1] 'paper' (not necessarily newspaper) contains 150-200:1 C/N, compared to sawdust at 100-500:1. Adding carbon will quite possibly detract from the amount of N available to a plant. Adding N to compensate will degrade the weed blocking utility of the newspaper as decomposition accelerates.
Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume carbon is of limited value as a nutrient amendment, as plants (primarily?) obtain carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. At any rate, plants do *excrete* carbon from their roots after periods of elevated carbon dioxide[2].
However, I'll concede that the newspaper and newspaper debris may have indirect and significant benefits (functioning similarly to deciduous leaf litter) in providing habitat and food for beneficial insects and microbes and enhancing soil structure.
While not directly contributing materiel, it is possible that landscape fabric made of polyester (and perhaps also polypropylene) can fixate minor amounts of atmospheric nitrogen via wind action and electrostatic effect[3].
Yes, newspapers need to be replaced often compared to landscape fabric. To me, this is not an advantage in permanent or semi-permanent installations.
[1] http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/horticulture/g810.htm "Table I. Carbon/Nitrogen Ratios of Some Common Organic Materials" [2] http://www.co2science.org/subject/r/summaries/roots.htm [3] http://www.ce-mag.com/archive/02/Spring/chubb.html "Findings"

Unless nightcrawlers will chew a hole through newspaper to open their covered burrow (quite possibly true), unbroken newspaper is as much a barrier as landscape fabric. But assuming a population rate of 1-7 worms per square meter[4] there should be sufficient openings in a typical fabric installation such that the population is not impacted significantly (assuming there is no reason why they would not choose to use an available opening). Shallow burrowing earthworms do not share nightcrawler feeding habit, but may exit their wandering burrows during extensive rain[5]. [4] http://www.swcs.org/t_pubs_journal_2ndQ02abstracts_water.htm [5] http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-279.html

Newspapers will block water to the soil or at the minimum cause pooling until drainage hole(s) are formed, which will not necessarily be uniformly distributed. Landscape fabric is semi-porous or porous to both air and water, as are roots. The mulch is more likely to block water than the fabric.

Correct, although the fabric will not necessarily pass the suspended nutrients, depending on the size of the pores in the fabric.

Weeds other than certain monocotyledons will not find their way through landscape fabric from below. If a plants attempts to colonize the top of the fabric, it is easily picked off. Done! No need to dig or look for a newspaper stand.
Landscape fabric is not overlayed because it is not necessary. However, if you have made a hole in the fabric that you do not want, it can be repaired by simply putting a new piece on top (or tucked below the existing fabric).

Landscape fabric: Never need to replace. Period. Okay, not in 5-15 years at least. Landscape fabric can become embeded with roots attempting to penetrate from below, but the removal of such fabric is of minor difficulty. Removing stripable wallpaper takes more effort.

Landscape fabric is a long term installation and will take more time for planning and preparation. The actual installation is simple.
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Hi Salty Thumb,
I start learnning agriculture by year 2001, that is after I went back to my hometown and deal with my land.
In my learnning progress, I do read a lot. Most of the articles I read are contrary with other articles. And it's hard to test it up who are correct.
I do read before from some articles that talk about the views bring up by you. But for going to sustainable and without bring in external input(landscape fabric), I tend to remember those comment that say bad words to landscape fabric. <g>
I'm not reach the level to able to tell which one are correct by now, but will grad to find it out if it does not cost too much of effort. Since I will not going to use landscape fabric, if you can share your personal experience with me(not those you read from), I'm grateful to this. :-)
I'm going off to my land now, will reply you when I'm back.
Cheers, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m

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berlin.de:

Here are the previous times I have babbled about landscape fabric:
http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&threadm 1qe0%24e9q% 241%40plonk.apk.net
http://groups.google.com/groups ? q=landscape+fabric+chives&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&scoring=d&selm=% 25HD4c.99646%246K.92016%40nwrddc02.gnilink.net&rnum=1
I don't think it is a matter of what is 'correct' but what is the best solution to a given problem. I'm also not an expert to say for sure, but for your operation, extensive mulch seems a better idea, and more practical. I don't generate enough vegetation to be able to supply myself with mulch or significant amounts of compost, so I use newspaper or fabric. Since I do not add amendments, I find fabric better suited. Additionally, were I to add amendments, I find sliding large pine bark nuggets aside and lifting the fabric (feeder roots smeeder roots) an easier procedure than raking aside mulch that is possibly conmingled with newspaper and soil debris. If I were to use short term mulch (i.e. not as long lasting as large pine bark nuggets), newspaper might be a better idea, as I could just mix everything together and enrich the soil structure by doing so. With the fabric, aesthetically, I do not have to use as much nugget mulch to cover what could be unsightly newspapers.
Having reviewed some of the older messages about landscape fabric, if you're going to grow vegetation that will eventually spred over a flower bed (making removal of landscape fabric more difficult), it really doesn't make sense to use long term weed suppression, as once established, theoretically, the vegetation should be effective in limiting weed growth to acceptable levels. Certainly in this case you would want to use something that degrades, replacing as necessary until the relevant plant is established and doing its own weed control, the exception being if said vegetation will die back in the winter, in which case you can plan your amending accordingly and/or resign yourself to using short term suppression or other methods.

Okay.
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