[Market-farming] Managing ground between plastic mulch rows (was Rotor Tiller)

Glen Eco Farm glenecofarm at planetcomm.net
Wed Nov 14 21:43:45 EST 2007

While some of you are discussing equipment to till space between plastic mulched rows I want to share some of my efforts manage this space:  Even if I have the right equipment I can only do limited tillage between the rows anyway because some of my plastic mulched crops are vine crops like squash and cucurbits that want to run into this space.
  a.. Spread corn gluten meal to suppress weeds (didn't work)
  b.. Mulched with spoiled hay (works somewhat but is labor intensive and I have to push it off on to someone else because of my need to be careful with mold exposures)
  c.. Let the weeds grow (you can get away with it but it is an ugly mess I wouldn't recommend)
  d.. Sow crimson clover after laying the mulch (Clover came up ok but fizzled out with the arivval of hot weather and drought.  Then came the grass and weeds.)
Next year I'm thinking of planting something that will grow more aggressively in hot weather, make a thicker ground cover, feed nitrogen to the soil, and yield some crop to those who want them--cowpeas.  What do some of you think?  Will it work?  Has anyone tried it?  I'm not concerned about crop compitition for water and nutrients because I have drip irrigation under the plastic, the plastic keeps competing plants far enough away from the crop and I am prepared to foliar feed if necessary.

Marlin Burkholder
Virginia zone 6
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