[Market-farming] Market-farming] Mulch

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Thu Dec 6 23:19:53 EST 2007

On Dec 6, 2007, at 2:14 PM, Jan Lite wrote:

> >I'd like to try putting down mulch over my garden to reduce weeds and 
> help
> >the soil.  It's about 3 acres, but I'm really not sure how to get it 
> done.
> >Also not sure how to plant a garden on it.
> I like the suggestion about growing your own mulch.
> Any chance of a cover crop such as a cereal rye/legume mixture?
> When that's whacked down, you'll have biomass galore - not only above 
> ground to supress weeds but the extensive rye roots will add alot of 
> OM below, plus N from the legume. Plant right into the mulch.
> NC State had a great success with a recent no-till cucurbit trial.

They almost certainly used herbicide.

Rye/legume mulch is great, but it will only suppress weeds temporarily. 
The weeds will come up through it with huge enthusiasm several weeks 
later (fueled by the N from the legume). Be prepared to either use 
herbicide; do a great deal of weeding; or cultivate at that point, 
tilling in the cover crop in the process (I do the last of these, as 
well as some hand weeding).

I lost a winter squash crop, through not knowing this, and listening to 
huge enthusiasm on the part of people in New Jersey who kept talking 
about "heavy weed suppressant mulch" and neglecting to mention, in most 
of their descriptions of the system, the herbicide they used to control 
the later weed flush. By the time the problem became obvious, the 
squash was running, and it was too late to till; but the squash then 
disappeared entirely in the rampant weed growth, and produced almost 

If you have almost no weed pressure, you might not have much of this 
effect. But if you have any weed seed bank in the soil, look out.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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