Weed Prevention

First time poster in this group. Hope this isn't the most redundant question. If so, I apologize in advance.
Looking for some advice on how best to prevent weed growth in our garden. I am looking at two options, maybe someone could suggest other alternatives.
So far, I weeded the flower bed. The bed is about 30 ft long and about 3 feet wide with no shrubs in the way.
Option 1 Plant the flowers such as dahlias, marigolds and geraniums.
Add mulch around the bed to minimize weed growth.
(I've done that in the past and found that over time some of the mulch spreads and thins out and weeds still manage to pop through.)
Option 2 Lay a sheet of weed stopper on top of the soil and then cut holes to plant the flowers. (I guess I could simply put down newspaper and save a few dollars.)
Afterwards, add mulch to hide weed stopper material.
Even though I might use a roll of the 10 year weed wall material I would have to remove it in the Fall because I have tulip bulbs planted for the next Spring.
Would rather not have to put the weed stopper material on the garden, but really don't want to spend time weeding again either. Anything I could do beside just adding the mulch to prevent the weeds from popping through?
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Put down newspaper or cardboard. Mulch with alfalfa, 3" thick. Repeat next year. If mulch starts to thin, add to 3". Keeps out most weeds, feeds worms, which feed plants. Don't use water soluable chemicals (Miracle Grow, ect., fish emulsion, seaweed extract, OK.)
--
Billy
Coloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
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I'd vote for plan C: mulch, then scuffle the mulch with a hoe once in awhile, most likely every couple weeks. Or use more mulch.
Kay

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not sure where you are...... zone wise, the sun orientation, shade... but
tulips need to be dug every other year, divided and replanted as they dont naturalize very well (unless they are species tulips). They also have ugly foliage for a while followed by bare dirt, so typically something is planted that leafs out later and covers the ugly. around here that something is peonies. some hostas will also do if the orientation is east or west without too much sun all day.
tulips and other bulbs are typically put into a perennial bed, one that isnt dug up and disturbed with planting annuals (what you want to plant). some people leave a border in front for their annuals. OR, use planters for their annuals with some annual vines draping over the edge.
for a perennial bed the best choice is pre-emergent to prevent seed germination, soaker hoses and then mulch over the top. use a hoe to cut off weeds as they sprout rather than pulling them up which brings weed seeds up to the surface.
For an annual bed where you are planting plants (rather than seeding) it is best to put down newspapers, cut the holes and mulch. this can also be done for annual edgings of perennial beds.
Ingrid
On Tue, 19 Jun 2007 01:36:43 GMT, "Charlie S."

I have tulip bulbs planted for the next Spring.

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If you are looking at pesticides here is some information for the first time poster. http://home.ccil.org/~treeman/spring.html
Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Arborist http://home.ccil.org/~treeman and www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.

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[snip]

There's nothing you can do that will let you plant now and keep hands off from weed control for the year. Mulch is your friend. Weed stop material is not going to keep weeds out of your garden -- they'll just root above the material, such as in the mulch around the plants.
Prep the soil, plant, add mulch -- 3-4" minimum, then take care of the occasional weed that starts up and also add new mulch when the old starts to deteriorate. This means using a lot more mulch than you would think.
Rather than keep buying bags of mulch I -- (a) Talk to local tree trimmers, power company, etc., and have them leave their wood chips on my property. They benefit from not having to take it to a landfill, nor do they have to pay the landfill fee. I get free mulch. It usually takes me a couple of months to get around to using all that they've left, and by that timeit has already composted slightly. or
(b) When necessary, buy it in bulk from a local nursery and have it delivered. It's a little harder to spread when it doesn't come in bags, but a lot less expensive for the amount of mulch I buy.
No matter what path you choose, you're going to have to occasionally weed around the plants you want in your garden, but if it's well mulched the weeds will be fewer and a lot easier to pull out.
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A bale of alfalfa costs me $15. Heck of a lot cheaper than mulch and a heck of a lot more healthy for my garden.
--
Billy
Coloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
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wrote:

Whoa....15 bucks? I just bought three bales from our HVAC fixer/buddy for 3 bucks, direct from the source. He raises and bales alfalfa.
Even at fifteen bucks per, it is a bargain for your garden and like you say, way healthy.
Charlie
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On Wed, 20 Jun 2007 00:03:40 -0500, Charlie wrote:

Make that three bucks per bale.
Charlie
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Here the property is $25,000 per acre (agricultural in quantity) and that ain't hay.
--
Billy
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I'd like to thank everyone for the weed tips and Ingrid for the flower info. Didn't realize most tulips should be dug out every other year. Will do that before I start planting.
I also wasn't aware of alfalfa being used in the garden. I would imagine this is sold at the nursery or a local farm supply type store.
I've decided on the following course of action. 1. Remove tulip bulbs and either replant later or buy new ones in the Fall. 2. Make a few phone calls to find out where I can buy some alfalfa and buy a bale. 3. Plant flowers. 4. Put down some newspaper. 5. Spread 3 inches or more of mulch and possibly mix with alfalfa. 6. Hoe out weeds from time to time rather than pulling.
I already bought mulch, but may look into buying mulch from tree trimming company next year. Or, buy in bulk from a local nursery.
Thanks again for all your help. Charlie S.
PS. Will most likely post again in the Fall. Will need advice about cutting down towering trees that are growing close to the house.
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One word of warning about wood mulch. It can harbor a very nasty fungus called "artillery fungus." Artillery fungus sprays tiny protein spots at anything within about 15 feet of the almost invisible fungus and these spots, once they set within about 24 hours, are impossible to remove.
They can ruin car paint jobs, deface siding and end up costing you a bunch of money.
We and our neighbors in a row of new homes had deep mulch on our property that was the result of running the brush on the lot through a wood chipper. We both ended up with artillery fungus infections that caused us a lot of grief. I ended up having to spend a lot of money to get it removed because there was about 1/3 of an acre of the stuff on my property some of it almost a foot deep--and we needed heavy equipment to remove it.
The artillery fungus grows in wood chips, especially those that are more than 2 or 3 inches deep. It starts out as just a few specks that can easily be mistaken for fly specs and ends up as a hail of brown spots everywhere. There is NO product on the market that can remove it easily once the protein sets.
So do NOT use woodchipper chips on your landscaping, especially not near your house or drive way, and don't layer your mulch too deep!
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Good plan. When removing tulips or weeds, as in steps 1 and 6, a precise weeding tool will disturb the soil much less than your traditional hoe. There are also precise hoes, if you're stuck on flat blades for weeding. A twister will probably work better on tulips, actually. Otherwise you can choose from a number of weed pullers, twisters and other unique weed removing tools that have back-saving features and also help to protect your soil by minimum till operation. Use your favorite search engine to search for precise weeding tools for some suggestions.
----- At peace with weeds...
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go to home depot and get yourself some preen. its safe and easy. make sure you have gotten all the weeds out. sprinkle this around and wet it. it works for probably a month or so.its great stuff.much easier than mulch or paper. before i knew about it i put plastic around everything then mulch over top. i had beautiful gladiolas. this year they have rotted and are dying. im thinking maybe they reproduced as much as thay could and smothered out because of the plastic and all the rain we had this year.i wish i knew about preen a few years back because i loved those glads. good luck
Charlie S. wrote:

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Provided there's no runoff into wetlands, where Preen wreaks havoc with aquatic life. No, it isn't safe and easy, it's just easy, and terrible for the environment. Mulch and weed. That's why it's called gardening.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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HA (the Chris Matthews sort).
Don't ask me, your reply just struck me that way. :-)
Along those lines, you have said this before and it got me to doing some research. No I am not going to try or advocate for Preen, I did see several places that it is not good stuff. Another of those things that some organic-heads snap up and make the whole movement look bad.
Does straight corn gluten meal, the Iowa State research, have the same effect upon aquatic life? This led to other stuff about the uses of cornmeal as a fungicide and a minor source of N, and for slug and snail control.
Anyway, thanks for the thought-prompt that sent me down this line of investigation. Learning new stuff all the time.
Here's links for the IaState stuff http://www.gluten.iastate.edu / http://www.gluten.iastate.edu/daily.html
Process information: http://www.grainprocessing.com/feed/feedinfo.html
Care Charlie
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You don't say whether you turn over the soil (perhaps no, based on your reference to bulbs) with a digging fork or rototiller.
While this certainly will not stop weeds completely, it will slow down many of them.
Planting your flowers closer together can also shade out the weeds (depends a bit on the flowers, how fertile the soil is, whether buying more flowers would be too expensive, etc).

This should work. By the end of the season the newspaper will probably have broken down enough that you probably don't have to worry much about removing it. If you end up going with the tilling method, you can just till it into the soil with rototiller or digging fork next spring.
There aren't a whole lot of ways to prevent weeding entirely (well, not ones I'd recommend anyway). But if you keep it to a manageable level, don't think of it as a horrible chore, think of it as a chance to be outside spending time in the company of the plants you want there.
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Actually, tilling promotes weeds rather than suppressing them. The soil is loaded with millions of weed seeds but only the top inch or two get warm enough to germinate. If you deal with them using the method of your choice then most of your weed problem is done.
But if you till the soil you bring more weed seeds into the germination zone and it starts all over again.
There is a technique named "stale seed bed" that discourages tilling for this reason. I am experimenting with it this year and so far it looks pretty encouraging.
John
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Actually, although I didn't say it very clearly the first time, I agree with this.
Well, at least in the sense that tilling helps some weeds.
I'll maintain that it also will slow down others. It depends on whether you are dealing with weed roots (perennial weeds which you didn't pull up by the roots and the like), live weeds (in the case where you are tilling after something has come up), what your soil seed bank is like, and any number of other factors.
I tried a quick internet search, to see if one (or both) of us is totally off base, but didn't find a whole lot very quickly. The most entertaining (new to me, certainly) was about tilling at night:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3741/is_n12_v43/ai_17840569

Well, it discourages tilling at the same time as planting. Some variations involve tilling, but some weeks (or more) before planting. There seem to be many variants of this, from herbicides to flames to hoeing. What they seem to have in common is that you *encourage* the weeds to grow at some time *before* your crop is in, and then get rid of them.
http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/flameweeding.html http://www.newfarm.org/depts/readermail/200407/0720_2.shtml
Most of the sources I found were more about direct-seeded crops than transplants, though. The latter have a big head start on the weeds.
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