[Market-farming] mulching pathways

John Ferree john at seldomseenfarm.com
Wed Mar 2 08:05:14 EST 2011

So. . . do i have this right?

Fall year 1
Plant rye

Spring Year2
prep and lay plastic
at some point cut rye as straw mulch

how is your equipment setup?  you have a tractor that is going to run in 
these rye planted wheel tracks?  My concern. . . you're going to have to 
sickle bar it to kill it.  After you have run a tractor to prep, lay 
plastic, and plant the rye will be lodged and difficult to kill with any 
mower.  Then you will have weed problems the next year if rye sets 
seed.  Also, rye will get 6' tall in june (here).  Are you going to have 
to access the plantings before the rye sheds pollen?

How are you going to manage weeds in the disturbed area before the rye 
is cut? If that were planted on may 7 and rye cut on Jun 7 you have 4 
weeks of weed development on the plastic edge/ tilled area.

Also, if you have any drainage issues or heavy ground, that rye will 
hold water like crazy in a wet spring.  So your plots may be more 

I have considered growing rye and having it baled in a separate plot.


On 3/1/2011 8:48 PM, Dalew Farms wrote:
> I'm a couple weeks behind in my market farming list reading, and just 
> getting caught up tonight.  Very happy to see the discussion about 
> mulch/weed control in the pathways between plastic mulch.  I've been 
> thinking about that same question lots here this winter.  As we've 
> started using more and more plastic mulch, its become a bigger issue 
> for us.  We used to use walk behind tillers to keep the weeds down 
> between the plastic, and still do, except as we grow more and more 
> veggies, that is one thing we're doing a poorer job at!  I always seem 
> to use the philosophy that the plants on the plastic are doing ok 
> because the weeds in the path won't reduce yield, so I concentrate on 
> weeding a crop thats not on plastic.  Unfortunately, I always get mad 
> at myself in the fall because we never do get back into the pathways 
> between the mulch, and end up harvesting melons or squash in amongst a 
> bunch of weeds!
> Last winter, I told myself we were going to use straw mulch between 
> the rows of plastic, and apply it at the same time as we did the 
> transplanting.  I was supposed to be strict about that, but we got 
> busy and didn't do it hardly at all. :(  It is fairly time consuming 
> as others had mentioned.
> What I plan on trying for this year (and this time I'm really gonna do 
> it! LOL) is to plant fall rye in between the rows of plastic mulch.  
> If anyone sees a problem with this, please let me know!  I'm hoping 
> that by planting fall rye in the spring or early summer, its not going 
> to grow very tall without going through a winter, so I won't have to 
> cut it, and then won't have the worry of having trash flung onto our 
> crops.  (The only crop we grow on plastic I'd worry about that is for 
> lettuce).  I plan on planting the fall rye with a drop seeder/spike 
> aerater made for seeding lawns.  You can buy these to plant roughly 
> 40" wide, and it could be pulled with our riding lawnmower.  I think 
> using one of those would make it pretty low labour, without widening 
> the centres to 12' like someone else had wondered about to use a 
> seeddrill.
> At this point, my only concern I"m wondering about is if the rye in 
> the pathways might attract slugs or anything that might like to feed 
> on our lettuce on the plastic?  Has anyone else thats been using any 
> kind living mulch/cover crop between the plastic been growing lettuce 
> on plastic?  And have you found any extra bug problems because of the 
> living mulch?
> Thanks again for starting this discussion!
> Dave
> Dalew Farms
> Web: www.dalewfarms.ca <http://www.dalewfarms.ca>
> E-mail: dalew at phonenet.ca <mailto:dalew at phonenet.ca>
> Phone: (705)594-1823
> Fax: (705)594-1834
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Seldom Seen Farm <http://www.seldomseenfarm.com/>
Danville, IN
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