Has anyone used heavy duty landscape fabric (the professional grade, not the buy-at-local-hardware grade) in their vegetable garden? Pros and Cons? You can read my backstory below.
We had our first garden at our new place this past year. We went big with high hopes but we didn’t succeed as well as we hoped. The biggest problem we encountered was wiregrass (I’ve always called it that; but maybe the same as bermuda grass?). The field we tried to turn into a garden had been a field of weeds for at least a few years though we found evidence of it being a garden or at least a flower garden at one time (rose tags). After pulling out incredible numbers of grapefruit and larger sized rocks(!) we tilled several times, letting the broken roots of the grass dry out thoroughly and then raking them out. That did kill most of the grass IF we were able to get deep enough in the ground to get out most of the root. Our mistake was we left large walkways between the rows that we didn’t plow or till, and the wiregrass quickly invaded the rows. Where we put cardboard or plastic along the side of the rows it halted or slowed it but since wiregrass can seed even if it is cut to only a few inches tall, baby plants starting springing up and we didn’t keep up with the weeding fast enough. It was a mess. We still had a good harvest but had other problems such a stinkbugs on our tomatoes that really deflated us. . .so many rotten tomatoes on the vine or ones that rotted within a day of being picked.
Next year our plans are for a much smaller garden. . .at least my plans. My husband is not so sure about a garden at all and admittedly I am looking for a solution that won’t require the effort of hand weeding as we’re looking forward to the arrival of baby #3 in June! One thing we know is that in future we will plow and till ALL the ground and if we want grass in the walkways instead of bare dirt, we will plant rye or another cover crop. Normally I would just use newspaper and leaves or straw/hay around plants as we put them in the ground – these keeps out many weeds. But if there’s even the slightest root of wiregrass left this won’t work. I don’t want to use solid plastic, because our soil drains quickly and we need every bit of natural rain to reach the plants – we do have soaker hoses that can be put under plastic, but we mainly water with water saved in rain barrels. But I have been looking at the professional grade landscape fabric and wondering if it could work.
My questions are – how long would it last? Could it be weighed down with rocks and covered with a little straw during the growing season and then moved to a new spot next spring? (I’d want to make as few holes in it as possible, and plants like tomatoes require different spacing than lettuce. . .and we are big fans of crop rotation.)
I’d appreciate any experience y’all have with this or other suggestions for weed control! We are trying to do this organically.