Using Agriculture Film when Prepping Your Garden for Planting

“Black plastic mulch” can give you a weed free garden

Black plastic mulch gardening is done by unrolling black plastic film over a garden to prevent weeds from growing. Cutting small holes or long trenches in the black plastic will enable “wanted” plants to grow.  Rolling out the plastic between three to four weeks ahead of the planting season will kill the dormant seeds of unwanted weeds during the winter months. It will also make the soil softer and easier to work.

What is black plastic mulch and where can I get it?

International Plastics sells it in various sizes. Pay attention to length, width, and thickness of the plastic. “Biodegradable” black plastic mulch is sold, but BE AWARE, a true biodegradable plastic can only become that way by having the additive, Enso Restore, included during the manufacturing process.

(The additive promotes biodegradation in an aerobic waste environment like landfills)

Heading to a nearby hardware store and buying a 20’x 100′ roll of black plastic may not perform as needed.  Any black plastic less than 4-mil thick can easily tear if walked on, especially if you live in a rocky or high clay content soil.

 

4-mil is equivalent to four human hairs stacked together

How can black plastic mulch promote growth?

No Weeds

Weeds are history. After all, how can weeds grow if they are covered in plastic?

Seed growth

Covering your garden will not only warm the soil and accelerate seed growth, it can trap moisture and make the soil easier to manipulate.

A fuller and more beautiful garden

A garden free of weeds will produce healthy, full plants. In a garden choked by invasive weeds, plants are often robbed of much-needed nutrients by the gangly army of unwanted growth competing for garden space.

What can go wrong?

Its time consuming and a tad uncomfortable in the elements

Let’s face it, purchasing black plastic, applying it, and cutting holes and trenches in the plastic to ensure healthy plant growth takes a bit more time than simply planting the seeds. Not only that, black plastic will heat up under the sun and can tear easy if wearing shoes.

And if that weren’t enough, it’s slippery when wet. Rain, garden hoses or dew. As a result, may want to wait until either the sun is lower in the sky or behind the clouds. Of course, “rain, rain, go away”.

Black Plastic itself

The bigger your garden, the bigger your plastic overlay will be. (Now imagine a strong wind. Not pretty.)

 

Until your plants take a firm hold and secure the plastic to the ground, it can be helpful to use stakes, rocks or any assortment if heavy garden decorative or fencing to ensure the plastic stays hugged tight to the soil.

How do I get started?

Ready your soil now. If there are any things you would like to add or do to the soil, make sure they are completed before the plastic is laid. It will more difficult to make on-the-fly adjustments with all that plastic in the way.

Secure the plastic to the ground along the garden’s borders and allow it to set for several days before planting.

Planting in rows?

Along each row intended for planting, cut one slit in the plastic. Also, make perpendicular slits at each end of the row. Now, fold the plastic’s edges under and open the planting area.

Start planting.

Planting on a hill or alongside an existing plant?

Make an “X” in the plastic where the hill or started plant will be, then fold the edges to create an open square.

Start planting.

How will the garden get water under all that plastic?

Rain will get there, but for a more precise targeting system, simply employ a water sprinkler. In addition, the added water weight will help secure your plastic to the garden bed until the plants take a more formidable hold.