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

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I can live with the onion thingies, so I still stand by my recommendation. People who can garden their way out of bank vault probably won't want to use landscape fabric, but if you're an average lazy guy, it's good stuff.
[Message end]
For those really lazy guy, that neglect a corner of garden and let small bush or tree grow on top of the landscape fabric, I can't imagine how they will going to separate the landscape fabric from the mulch(humus) on top, soil below, and plant in between. <g>

best
I'm agree with you that there is no single way for every situation.
But 'correct' here I'm refer to the claim are true to the fact.

This still need another few years to test it out when some new need come in. Maybe by the time another alternative fit better than mulch. I'm also looking at live mulch(ground cover) now.

newspaper
I test out that Perennial peanut(Arachis) work well as live mulch here.
It grow low, can grow under shading, not appear to compete with crop plant, do suppress weed germinate from seed, decaying dead root do provide organic matter and nutrient. It make available by exchange carbon for N and P with bacterial(N) and fungus(P).
Weed that grow through the live mulch can be weeded by handheld string trimmer or sickle.

bark
with
I don't see the need to raking aside mulch, I will just top dressing the amendments.

better
As long as you don't over mulch, the mulch will find it way to soil by critter live in it.

if
flower
you
until
I think people call this vegetation as ground cover or live mulch depend on situation.

which
to
I will suggest using plant debris for supplement in this situation.
Regards, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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berlin.de:

I find the idea that anyone wuuld let a tree or bush grow on and through landscape fabric ridiculous. I neglect my flower beds for months because they don't need maintenance. After several months, I get a handful of large weeds (hand sized or smaller) that are easily removed. In any event, if someone were to let a tree or shrub grow through the landscape fabric and the plant does not come out easily, it should be a simple matter to slide the mulch aside, cut a circle in the fabric around the bush and pry it out with a mattock, then cut another piece of fabric to patch the hole or plant something else in the opening. Aside from that, I suggested landscape fabric for use in a flower bed, not the corner of a garden. If you've got particularly invasive plants around your flower bed, you've got bigger problems that neither landscape fabric nor mulch will solve.

No matter how correct your facts are, if they aren't applicable, then it does not matter if they are true or not.

At this point I'm not sure what you are referring to.



For a flower bed that needs to be visually appealing, I think it is important to put amendments under the mulch. Depending on nitrogen content, you may also want to bury them to avoid volatilization.

When I wrote that i wasn't thinking of groundcovers as much as a low shrub with wide sunblocking canopy. I don't know if that qualifies as a 'groundcover'. The problems I have with groundcovers (such a creeping groundcover), aside from ignorance and cheapness, is there is a potential to create a diverse microcosm in your flower bed. So in addition to 'soil critters' you have created another layer of habitat for whatever insects or animals that move in and the other plants you have (barring any symbiosis) will have to compete with the groundcover. If you don't know what you are doing, there is the potential for many problems, hence the need for 'people who can garden their way out of a bank vault'.

Any plant debris I have either goes in the garbage or compost pile for the vegetable garden.
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best
situation.
then it

There is too much of alternative ways to do a work. I don't think I can test all of them to find out which are the most applicable, what I do are choose some of them that look like promising, and I need the "correct facts" to pick those I'm going to test.

need
mulch.
I'm refer to operation on my land. It's a small one, but the ways I test on it are what I will do when on a large land. It will take a few years to test before I really go to large scale.

I agree with you, "for a flower bed".

potential
whatever
(barring
don't
hence
I agree. For a normal gardenner, it's not worth the effort of choosing the right groundcover. But for a bigger operation, a right groundcover do help to save cost.
Regards, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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Hi Salty Thumb,
After the second pass read though your message, I'm afraid that I can only reply you in very short form. Due to my bad English, I had problem in spelling and phasing my words, it do take great effort for me to write in English. Sorry about that. :-(

(not
at
amount of

weed
value
plants
carbon
have
deciduous
and
landscape
electrostatic
fabric.
It depend on the carbon are in what form. If it's sugar or starch, it do. If it's lignin or cellulose, the effect should be unnoticeable. Newspaper are compose mostly by cellulose.

Adding N will not always speed up the decompostion. It really depend on situation.
Mulch supress weeds not just because the physical blocking ability, it can also leach out some chemical harm weeds. Critters in mulch will also help to supress weeds.
But to me, I will never add N to the mulch

value
plants
carbon
have
deciduous
and
Yes, here the soil amendment I'm refer to improve soil structure.

landscape
electrostatic
I believe N fixed by bacterial using carbon as energy in orgainc mulch will do a better job.

fabric.
For this I do facing problem to explain my view. In bussiness, we talk about total cost of ownership. In here we talk about in the total life span of the product, how much cost involve and how much the return get.
For this, I'm not know enough to provide a view. Sorry about that.

Thanks for the links, I will look at it later. :-)

plant
their
a
worms
to
share
during
their
A few sheet of newspaper will not block earthworm.

to
share
during
I'm quite sure landscape fabric significantly reduce earthworm population.

roots.
pooling
Look at all short of filter we use, they all block. Do a test, remove the mulch on top of your landscape fabric, put some water on top of it, see how long it will pass through.
Mulch have critters making tunnel in it, except there is little critter in it.

else
form,
I'm refer to those nutrien that resolve in water as liquid form.

newspaper/mulch,
fabric on

through
top
look
However,
be
No comment. <g>

that
5-15
is of

5-15
From what I read, if landscape fabric are expose to sun, will not last long.

is of

From what I read, those user of landscape fabric donot take it as "minor difficulty". <g>

add
can
will
for
No comment. <g>
Sorry, I'm getting a bit impatience. :-(
Sorry, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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Hello Wong,
berlin.de:

As I understand it, for optimal decomposition, you should have a C/N ratio of 30:1. I have read that wood chips and sawdust will reduce nitrogen availability during decomposition when used as mulch or in a compost pile, and I assumed that was because of the high carbon content. Newspaper has approximately between 1/2x and 5x the carbon of sawdust (both primarily celluose).
[1] http://compost.css.cornell.edu/calc/lignin.html

hmm, according to [1], you are right, at least for lignin decomposition. A certain quantity of additional nitrogen will speed up anaerobic decomposition, but excess has little or no effect. It does not say about cellulose.

Yes and also fungi.

My point is if you wanted to increase nitrogen availability to the soil to compensate for newspaper decomposition loss (if there actually is any) you could add to the soil, but actually if you wanted newspaper for nutrients (as opposed to weed control), you should probably do that in the compost pile and not in the flower bed.

I agree, the amount of nitrogen fixated (if any) by electrostatic effect over a surface is probably minor, but I mention it because occasionally you hear about people growing huge tomatoes with panty hose (nylon) and the effect may be similar.

In these terms, landscape fabric is USD$10 / 150 sq. ft (14 sq. meter), with a life span of 15 years when installed properly, plus the starting cost of mulch, USD$2-3 / 3 cubic feet (for large pine bark nuggets) at recommended coverage rate of 4-6 inches (10-15 cm, mine is probably less than 2 inches) and periodic replacement cost for wind or decomposition loss. Other factors: labor savings in amount of time spent weeding, labor increase in adding amendments, productivity comparisons if relevant, etc. My recommendation is based on use for a home flower bed, not a large scale or intensive operation.

In my experience, earthworms (not necessarily nightcrawlers) will continue to crawl until it finds an existing opening and not attempt to chew through paper to find an exit. In this way, I assume it is similar to fabric, although there is no way the earthworm will be able to chew through landscape fabric. These observations were in daylight, so may not be representative of normal behaviour.

Okay.
I do not think this is a problem. When it rains, I do not have a problem with drainage, so the water must go down some where, even if the gutters are removed (and rain falls directly from the roof to the flower bed). If you test the fabric by itself, fast moving water (such as from a faucet) will be deflected from the surface, but slow water (as typical with mulch impeded flow) will drain. If it weren't porous, you might as well just you regular black polyethylene sheeting.

I could be wrong, but I just don't see macroscopic organisms eating vertical holes through newspaper to gain surface access.

You mean nutrients that are dissolved in water? It is possible that the fabric (different kinds of fabric vary) will filter the dissolved nutrients (in the same way a paper coffee filter may filter salt from seawater). I do not know, so I would not rely on it.

Yes, this is printed on the product labeling. However, I have some exposed pieces (DuPont Weed Control Fabric, rugged spunbonded polypropylene, UPC 0 83014 20163 2) outside and after more than a year, visually they all look the same as pieces that were stored in the original bag in the garage. (I did not look at them under a microscope.) The degradation rate probably differs in Canada and Singapore. (Not the same product as used in my front yard, which is similar to but not EasyGardener Weedblock.)

haha, perhaps the Green lacking in my Thumb is made up with my Incredible Hulk strength.

No comment. :-)
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Hi Salty, <g>
After finished another reply to your posting, I realize it is too late to go to my land now. :-(
Never mind, since I'm in good form to write, it's better do my writing now. :-)

a
content.
sawdust
Diamon also having high C/N ration, I can assure you it will not reduce the N available to plant when use as mulch. <g>
It really depend on the available carbon instead of the total carbon contain.
I believe mulch will reduce N available to plant when the carbon(in liquid form) leach to the soil in rain, but not when there is no water soluble carbon are present in mulch.
In my impression, newspaper does not contain much water soluble carbon. It need enzyme to convert it, and that is a slow process.

decomposition.
about
Adding N more than substrate(mulch, soil, compost...) can hold are waste of money, the extra N will lost in air or worse, leach to the groundwater.
If I'm not wrong, cellulose are not one of the form of carbon that directly available by bacterial.

ability, it

will
I thinks I should use "soil live" instead of critters. <g>

soil
any)
in
I agree.

effect
occasionally
and
I don't now what is panty hose(nylon).
I do read tomatoe will grow larger when using red "plastic sheet"? as mulch due to the infrared and the higher warm of soil.

talk
life
meter),
starting
at
less
decomposition
weeding,
bed,
To explain my view, this will become a very long posting.
One of the example of the cost I refer are stocking cost, purchasing cost(time spend on searching, barginning...), disposing cost(collect and send to landfill..._)...

to
similar
chew
may
From what I read, all the earthworms will not like to expose under the light.
You may find earthworms gether around the opening of landscape fabric can be due to they need to feed on plant debris at night time and seek shelter in the soil under landscape fabric at day time. Earthworm happen to around opening are the only survival, earthworm under the landscape fabric that can't manage to find the opening are long dead.

remove
of
problem
gutters
bed).
typical
might as

I'm refer to no matter how porous landscape fabric are, it hole will block by something by one day, either it's a plant root or clay or something.

Critter need shelter, food, water and air to survive. In search of these resource, they will moving around, and creating tunnel through everything if they can.
E.g. critter will move deeper in soil to avoid the heat at day time, move to survice of soil to get food, move deeper when soil surface are dry, move to survice when ground water level are high.
Plant will also grow throug the newspaper in search of resource, be it shoot from below or root from top.

the
from
Yes, I do mean "dissolve". Thanks for your correction. :-)
I do doubt about the hole of landscape fabric are as small as this. If it do, I can assure you neary all the rain will end up as run off, and there will be not enough water to keep plant survive without a drip irrigation system.

penetrate
difficulty.
Incredible
If there is some bush grow on top, and rooting through landscape fabric, it still will be a mess even you manage to get "Incredible Hulk" to help you. <g>

Although try to manage it, I do still affect by mood. ;-p
Cheers, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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Diamonds (?) do not contain any biologically accessible carbon.

Both newspaper and sawdust have high cellulose percentage. Sawdust is reported to reduce nitrogen availability when used in a compost pile.

Many forms of N are water soluable and is leached away by water without any interaction with C, mulch or newspaper. You may actually get additional N during rain.

Cellulose is broken down by actinomycetes.

Despite the name and superficial resemblance, actinomycetes are prokaryotic bacteria, phylum actinobacteria. (Fungi are all eukaryotic.)

'soil life'

Panty hose is something women wear on their legs. I do not know why.

Yes, I have heard that, too. I think there was a Clemson or other Southern US university study. I am waiting for them to come out with a UV resistant landscape fabric version. <g>

It is not necessary, I do not think the orginal poster is concerned with those things. Have you read the sci.bio.agriculture group?

They also prefer to avoid becoming lunch.

If you read the link I posted earlier, it classifies earthworms in 3 groups. One of them i don't remember and is probably not relevant. The other two are nightcrawlers and regular earthworms. It said that nightcrawlers have permanent burrows, these are the ones you are talking about that come out at night to feed on plant debris. Another link I provided gave the population density for a certain species at some test location as 0-7 per sq. meter. At this rate, and the size of my flower bed, I think any detrimental effect by landscape fabric is minimal. I think, since it is a worm, eventually it will reproduce at a sufficent rate to exploit any available opening. The other kind of earthworm does not live in static burrows and only comes out during times of rain. I would guess that being subterranean, they would also be minimally affected by landscape fabric.

I don't think plant roots are impermeable to water. I don't know how a chunk of clay is going to get into my flower bed. It has been several years and I have no problems with water blockage. Even if some clay or other amendment (as below) were spread over the fabric, water is a very effective solvent and while the clay or amendment is not guarranteed to pass, the water certainly will.


You can try this experiment: Cover some soil with newspaper. Time how long it takes to develop an opening. It takes over 2 months in a temperate climate. Any holes that develop are not from macroscopic organisms. Plants will grow through, but those opening are not available to macroscopic organisms (being blocked by the plant). Gradually, in wet areas of the paper, actinomycetes or other microscopic organisms will weaken the newspaper until a hole forms or mechanical action (wind, water, etc) hastens the break down. I will be surprised if you can come up with any large organism (other than termites, paper wasps and people) that will deliberately make a hole in the newspaper. To be fair, cover half the newspaper with organic mulch (I have not tried this) and see what happens. You can cover the other half with a banana leaf or something if you are worried about sun effects on organisms (you can take the leaf off when it rains or artifically add water to simulate tho condition). I predict the only difference is that mulch side will have accelerated decomposition (1 month to first hole vs. 2 months).

It's not just the size of the hole but also any electrical or chemical effects that may cause what ever you are adding to clump together (similar to hard water calcification of drain pipes on a smaller scale). Also, the landscape fabric regardless of the holes may be semi-porous to water. That is not necessarily true for the solute. [by 'hole' in this case, I'm refering to the factory made approx. millimeter sized openings uniformly distributed over fabric area, not the openings made by users to plant through.]

Your peanut groundcover is more likely to grow to 2 meters tall and start dancing around with a top hat, cane and monocle.
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Yes, "diamond" not diamon.
This is my point, it's the carbon available to bacterial, not the actual amount of carbon that causing temperary N deficiency.
If the carbon do in a slow release form for bacterial, it will not cause a suddent bacterial bloom even there is a lot of carbon there.

carbon
is
pile.
I believe that is starch and sugar in the sawdust that cause this, not cellulose or lignin. I believe newspaper do lost some of it starch and sugar while in the process.

carbon(in
water
without
So, either mulch will cause temporary N deficiency or not will depend on the C/N ratio make available by rain to soil bacterial.
I will say that, some mulch will and some mulch will not causing temporary N deficiency. It will depend on the amount of the C and N available to bacterial that do bring to soil by rain water.

I believe this process are rather slow. Do actinomycetes got the ability of N fixation from air?

eukaryotic.)
To tell the true, I don't know what is actinomycetes. <g>

Thanks. :-)

purchasing
cost(collect
with
You are right.

I do take a look there when I looking for agriculture newsgroup few month ago. Forgetted why I decide not to subscribe this group. May be due to the lack of traffic, or it's more on academic than practical. Not sure.
Do you think it's good for me to looking information there?

the
<g>
I'm doing a research for X/HTML now for writing some program, will read the link you provide later.

The
IIRC: 1. Litter dweller. Those live in the litter/mulch. E.g. red worm for worm composting 2. Surface dweller. Those "regular earthworms" work their way most of the time horizontally. 3. Burrower. Nightcrawler/dew worm.

test
flower
The reason of some place are 0 per sq. meter, the other are 7 per sq. meter are due to the environment of that place.
I do believe that for a same place, a landscape fabric do reduce the earthworm population by reduce the accessability to food for earthworm.

sufficent
Yes, to a far lower population in the total area.

I
They do need food, the landscape fabric do block organic matter to reach the soil. If you mixed in a lot of manure yearly to the soil that is another story.

how a

several
or
very
to
It do reduce the infiltration, and causing run off when rain are relative heavy.

how
Put other organic mulch on top of newspaper, it make difference.

I believe soil life do included those like earthworm, groundbettle, millipede, fungus...

available
Plants roots will dead, especially feeder roots, after the dead roots decay, tunnels are there. This applied to fungus as well.

people)
Here I do saw rat making big holes anywhere. ;-)

see
take
have
It really depend on how abundant life form are there. An example are, I put the newspapers under my curing compost that have abundant of groundbettle, millipete, earthworm... I do quite sure it take less than three days to have a first hole that go through all the layer of newspaper if the newspaper are wet.

chemical
scale).
semi-porous to

this
openings
users to

My point are, if the end result are nutrient in liquid form can be filter/block, it's sure that it also will causing run off, and not much water can get from rain for soil that is directly under the landscape fabric. So why landscape fabric? ;-)
Sure, if the rain are long and light, it's another story.

start
<g>
Cheers, Wong
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I'm not sure what you mean by this. The carbon in cellulose is not going to be released in any significant quantitiy without bacterial action. The bacteria will not have action without also N being present. When both are present the bacteria will use both the N and C, making less N available for plants. [I don't know what happens to the N after the bacteria get it (it has to go somewhere)]. Regardless, bacteria will not be able to decompose diamonds.

Cellulose is made from repeating units of glucose (a simple sugar) [1]. Starch is also made from glucose [2]. So unless there is some other form of sugar you are thinking of, I don't think so.
[1] http://www.psrc.usm.edu/macrog/cell.htm [2] http://www.poco.phy.cam.ac.uk/research/starch/whatis.htm

I think the amount of N from rain is relatively minor, but I do think the water and biological activity is important, otherwise the decay rate is slow. If you have low N to start, then the decay rate will be low and your plants have low N. If you have high N, some of that N will be used by decomposers leaving X amount for the plants, which still might lead to low N. If your top layer is biologically active, then most of N from rain will be intercepted before it reaches the plant roots.

I think the speed is dependent on N availability, temperature and maybe water availability. I don't think they can fixate N from air like legume inhabiting bacteria (rhizobium, phylum proteobacteria) or others, so they have to use other sources (otherwise, wood would decay quite quickly in open air).

"The mulitcellular actinobacteria include filamentous prokaryotes that were originally mistaken for fungi. Unfortunately, even though they are prokaryotic in all of their features, they are still sometimes called 'actinomycetes'." _Five Kingdoms_, Margulis and Schwartz, p.98, 3rd ed 1997. [-mycetes = plural of Greek "mykes" = "fungus"]
The other important thing to know about actinomycetes is that they decompose cellulose.

I only checked a few times, and you are right, aside from the spam, the traffic is light and usually very academic. But if I were using my land for commercial interests, I would keep an eye on it.
hmm ... I don't know what happened to the group ... I only see sci.agriculture now (no '.bio') and that has quite a bit of useless junk in it.

I see it probably doesn't say anything you don't already know.

okay

I think if there is any population loss for type #3 in my case it is neglibile. The total area of my flower bed is not large and assume the original poster's is more or less the same. Additionally, one dimension is significantly shorter than the other, so migration is not severely affected. This is also assuming the normal population is in the 0-7 per sq. meter range.

I do not know exactly what earthworms(#2) eat, but plants do secret organic debris from their roots, so perhaps falling surface debris is not the only source of food for them.

I have not noticed this, but there is a gutter above the flower bed that blocks most water flow. But even when the gutter was removed I did not notice any pooling.

Now, if that is true, then won't the weed blocking effect of the newspaper be mitigated? It seems to be of marginal benefit when being used in an active flower bed. You would have to rely on the soil biota (which would occur with or without the newspaper) for suppression after the newspaper decays. There may be significant initial suppression, but it seems to me that would be eventually negated by the additional fertility (of decaying mulch and other amendments).

I only noticed bacterial decay when I tried, but I did not cover with organic mulch.

Yes, but this takes time.

okay, "and rats"

See above ... won't this make the newspaper less useful for weed suppression?

okay, but why would you add nutrient to the surface of your mulch (and not directly to your flowers) or at least under the mulch? I know you said you like to top dress, and let organisms do the transport, but this seems inefficient for a small scale (ranking time to nutrient accessiblity higher than labor time).
I think you are wrong about the soil not getting much water. I rarely water my flower bed, and have the gutter blocking run-off from the roof, and the plants appear very healthy.
The good thing about landscape fabric is you don't have to spend any time weeding. Once every three months (or even longer), you can take a look, a few thing may grow on top and these can be picked off by hand. No significant root penetration occurs, so even a child could do it.
More importantly, there is no significant penalty for delayed removal. Without landscape fabric, a weed may grow quite large and maybe even go to seed or vegatatively propagate in 3 months (at the same time competing with desirable plants for resources). With landscape fabric, the weed may grow large, but the root system will be significantly impaired and probably will not seed before it is pulled.
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there.
going
action.
When
N
will not

Think about fertilizer, there is water soluble and slow release. I believe carbon do so. I believe sugar and starch are water soluble, cellulose and lignin are slow release.

there.
For a fertilizer, it will causing root burn or not does not really relate to the amount of element it contain. With the same content of element, a water soluble fertilizer will surely having bigger chance to cause root burn than a slow release fertilizer.
Let say there are total carbon enough to construct 1000 bacterial, but If the carbon make availble(release) in any bacterial life cycle are just enough to maintain 10 bacterial, no more than 10 bacterial will coexist at any given time period.

action.
IIRC, a lot of the form of carbon can be change to available form by enzyme, and there is also a lot of the life form do secrete these enzyme. If I'm not wrong, when those carbon in unavailble form pass through the earthworm digesting system, the enzyme secrete by earthworm do convert them to available form for bacterial. Fungus do secrete enzyme too.
Oxidization also will turn it to plant available form. <g>

Sawdust is

pile.
not
and
[1].
form
I do come across the explanation before, but it's too technical for me, so I just skip that part.
My explanation are: Put one part of flour in ten part of water in a container, stir it. Put one part of newspaper in ten part of water in another container, stir it also. You will see the different. <g>

Thanks for the links. I do hope it's something that easy to understand. ;-)
"AY-279 Earthworms and Crop Management" I personally think this earthworm article as the best I read in website are because it's something easy to understand for me, not because it's the one that go to the most detail.

depend
N
What I try to say are: Put a KG of flour as mulch to one plant. Put a KG of cotton as mulch to another plant. Sprinkle some amount of water(rain) on top of both "mulch", and see which plant leaves will turn to yellow due to the carbon bring down by water from mulch.

used
lead to

from
Maximum number of life form are limited by resource, it included space, water, air, and other element. The one that lack of will become the factor of constrain, and those resource that is abundance remain as abundance.
When a life form are in bloom, other life form depend on this life form also will increase in number and put this life form in check. We call this as predator, the poo of this predator mostly in a form that can use by plant.
Iife form convert N from one form to another form. Man eat plant get protein give ammonia. Man cannot digest ammonia, that is convert to by man. An bacteria convert nitrite to nitrate will not take in nitrate
Some bacteria convert the ammonia to nitrite, some bacteria convert nitrite to nitrate, plant convert nitrate to protein.
So "if my top layer is biologically active", each life form will hold N in one form for a period, and act as a nutrient bank, at the end make it slowly release to the plant.

that
are
called
Thanks. But I do doubt I can remember all these names. <g>

I do research with searching, so instead join and reading in a newsgroup, I will search in a newsgroup.
I join and reading in a newsgroup because I feel lonely, and want to participate with other.

junk
Maybe due to lack of traffic, Google discontinue to carry it.

is not

From what I read, earhworm getting microorganisms in rotting plant debris by ingesting(eatting) rotting plant debris. So if there is more rotting plant debris available, there is more food for earthworm.

but
As you said, I think the main purpose of newspaper are the initial suppression before it decay.

are,
less
of
Except initial supression before decay, I think newspaper are for press down the weed.
Take my case as example, I do cut/mow or roll down the weed before apply mulch, without doing this, the mulch will be hard to distribute evenly. With newspaper, I think I don't need cut/mow or roll down the weed.

(and
you
this
I never top dress nutrient on my mulch. But I do suggest if someone need to do fertilization after mulching, he can top dress on the mulch.
I develop/build up my soil fertility/organic matter before planting crop, and use organic mulch to maintain the soil fertility/organic matter.

rarely
roof,
As you said, your flower bed are narrow. And if your ground are level, that will not much run off can occurs.

time
look,
removal.
go
competing
weed
and
When weed go through the mulch:
In my case of not using newspaper, I will use sickle or handheld string trimmer cut off the weed part that on top of mulch, on top of the weed debris, add some more mulch. This will last about two month.
Using newspaper, I will simply laydown the newspaper on top of the weed, add some more mulch. I believe it will last more than two month.
BTW: Weed here grow quite fast, today I cut it to the ground, next day it can grow up to one and half inches. Weeding without mulch are not the way to go.
Getting sleepy, brain are not clear now, write shorter. :-)
4:04 AM here.
Good night, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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okay, sure, I can go along with the concept that carbon locked in cellulose and lignin usually do not as easily participate in reactions as other forms.

okay

I think the difference between slow release fertilizers and cellulose is that the coatings on slow release fertilizers are designed to degrade mechanically or chemically (wind/water action, soil chemistry or natural instability) and not by biological effect. The speed at which cellulose decays can be accelerated or decelerated by the presence or absense of nitrogen (and water). I don't think that is true of slow release fertilizers. So while wood is usually a 'slow release form', with the addition of nitrogen in a biologically active situation it ceases to be 'slow release'. Similar degradation does not occur with the fertilizers in the time scale of normal (non-compost) bed, because quite frankly, normal bacteria don't have much to gain by decomposing artifical fertilizer pellets. To put another way, if the carbon is milk and nitrogen is cookies, when the bacteria see the two together, they are going to eat regardless of any ideas about 'slow release'. .

I think this is still dependent on the presense of nitrogen to make proteins with energy supplied from the carbons.

Okay, but I'm not saying the starch in flour isn't different from the cellulose in newspaper. I'm saying newspaper and sawdust probably have similar nitrogen leaching effects due to the cellulose content. Do the same experiment with sawdust and compare to the flour. Even if you shred the newspaper or stick it in a blender, I think you will find them both more similar to each other than to the flour.

I think yellow leaves are a sign of nitrogen deficiency. My explanation is the soil organisms are using the nitrogen and the very accessible carbon in the flour (which also easily washes down into the soil). So it's not really the carbon, it's the hungry soil organisms that see the carbon but also need nitrogen to digest it, leaving little nitrogen for plants and then the leaves turn yellow. The plant may also not like some of the gluten in the flour. The cotton is cellulose and less accessible than flour, but that doesn't mean it wont't cause some nitrogen deficiency by intercepting nitrogen that would normally wash through the soil.

yea, but not all forms of nutrients are exclusive, the set of resources required by bacteria is less than that of plants, so it is less likely that deficiency in one will limit the population. (For example bacteria may only need C, N, H20, and plants need H20, CO2, N, Fe, P, K, so limiting Fe will not limit bacterial population, but will limit plant population). Also, discounting the presence of legumes, your plants are not going to have a nitrogen generating source below the soil. The nitrogen will wash down from above and the bacteria in the top layer will have first access.

If I were in your situation, I would probably do the same + the living mulch or cover crop you mentioned earlier. The only difference is I may worry about weeds resprouting from roots, so I may dig them out instead of cutting them if it is not too time consuming. Maybe also some research into plants that are alleopathic to the weeds.
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the
have
the
shred
both
Okay. <g>

There is bacterial that exist in soil freely that can use carbon as energy to fix N without work with legume, and release the N to plant available form when they die and decay. :-)

living
may
instead
Yes, it's not cost effective to remove the weeds root.
BTW: I do enjoy to read your posting, but it become a stress for me to reply you. I read quite fast, it take not more than 10 minute to read your post. But I write slow, it take nearly 2 hours to reply you. I hope next time we talk again it will be some simpler one. :-)
Regards, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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Thanks for taking the time to explain the benefits of using newspaper.
I didn't know that the landscape fabrics can prevent earthworms from living under it. This really makes me pause.
I will have to think this through. Honestly, I don't really know what to do at this point. I am sure I will think of something.
Thanks again.
Jay Chan
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Jay, I've asked you a number of times how much work to expect to do on your garden on a weekly or monthly basis, but you haven't responded. Would you care to do that now?

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I already responded that yesterday. Seem like we passed each other in cyber-space. Please scroll up and view my response to your original question.
Jay Chan
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Don't let him make you use up all your macaroni minutes.
[for those fortunate not to have TV http://www.sprinttvads.com/flashcheck.html?movieID 1, under Archive-> Macaroni]
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lazy
Well, Wong stated very good reasons and I agree with them, so I won't repeat them here. I went to totally organic, lasagna gardening two years ago, and my flower beds have never been better and have few weeds. It's all in feeding the soil and feeding the earthworms. Plastic landscape fabric defeats all those good things from happening. And, I do much less work, since I just throw a new layer of mulch on top and don't even work it in, just like Nature does. This retains the basic soil structure and doesn't disturb all the biological organisms.
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