[Market-farming] mulching pathways

Dalew Farms dalew at phonenet.ca
Wed Mar 2 09:01:12 EST 2011


Hi John,

Sorry, I maybe wasn't quite clear on my intentions.  I do NOT plan on planting rye the fall before.  We do have heavy clay soil here, and if I use rye for an overwintered cover crop, I don't count on using that section for growing veggies untill next year.  In dry years I can use it and it works great, but on wet years it would be impossible to manage without killing my soil structure.  I may experiment again, but I've also found that with our heavy soils, transplants don't do well put into plastic that was layed down the year before because the soil is too hard and wet.  

In the spring we till our field and lay the plastic mulch, and transplant.  Then I plan on coming in with the drop seeder/aerator to plant the fall rye.  Since the rye has not been overwintered, I don't expect it to get very tall, but it will grow short and cover the ground, and compete with the weeds.  Since I haven't done this yet, I am concerned about one of the things you pointed out, and that is weeds in the soil on the edges of the plastic mulch.  I"m assuming I'll have to drive very carefully so as to get the rye seed as close to the edge of the plastic as possible, without actually driving on, or ripping the plastic.  

Does that make sense this time?

Dave



Dalew Farms
Web: www.dalewfarms.ca
E-mail: dalew at phonenet.ca
Phone: (705)594-1823
Fax: (705)594-1834
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: John Ferree 
  To: Market Farming 
  Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 8:05 AM
  Subject: Re: [Market-farming] mulching pathways


  So. . . do i have this right?

  Fall year 1
  Plant rye

  Spring Year2
  prep and lay plastic
  plant
  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 inaccessible?  

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

  John

  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
    E-mail: dalew at phonenet.ca
    Phone: (705)594-1823
    Fax: (705)594-1834

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