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Discussion Starter #1
Every year the weeds and I go to war. My strategy involves the use of a hoop hoe, and a desperate attempt a prevention in the form of mulch. I hate weeds, but I've lost this battle every year. By August the bind weed is on my tomato trellis, thistles are popping up everywhere, and grass has filled in any remaining blank spots. I still get a good harvest, but I don't like losing this battle! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/angry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="angry"><br><br>
In past years I've done black plastic (good for some plants, and doing this year with the peppers), newspaper covered with bark chips (the super small kind), newspaper covered with grass clippings or pulled, non-seed bearing weeds, and even some pizza boxes laid flat and held down with rocks or more mulch. The problem I run into is I never have enough mulch to cover the whole garden, since I can't afford to buy a ton and I till it into the soil each fall to help up our organic content. The newspaper I have plenty of, since DH insists on getting the daily edition. But newspaper blows away on it's own, so needs to be covered with something. I would do more plastic, but I don't think it does anything good for our soil, and it isn't cheep.<br><br>
This year I'm thinking of trying straw, but I've heard some mixed reviews. It is cheep, cheep, cheep, which is very good. $5/bale. But we get high winds here on the CO prairie, and I'm worried it will blow away. Is it heavy enough to hold down a layer of newsprint too? Or is straw alone enough?<br><br>
I've heard some people use composted manure or compost for mulch, but I don't get why weed seeds wouldn't happily land and root into the manure, even if there was a layer of newsprint to keep things from popping up from underneath. (Dang bindweed!)<br><br>
Is there some other magic, weed stopping method I should be trying? Or other ideas on mulching so that I can help prevent weeds before they grow?<br>
Any thoughts on the use of straw for mulch?
 

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I have the same problem so I'll be <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/notes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notes"> !! Right now I have boards as pathways through my garden but the weeds are peeking up around them already!! And I laid down hay around my peas and the weeds are poking through again.<br><br>
My biggest issue is a MAJOR burdock infestation. The garden patch was left to grow wild for a while before we bought this house so I am taking control this year so that NO more seeds get dropped. But I'm finding that they are cropping up everywhere and some of the older plants have deeeeep roots!!
 

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I live in Tucson and mulch with straw to keep the water from evaporating. We had some REALLY windy days, but none of the straw blew away. I think the trick is to put it on thick enough. I put it on the garden end of march/early april and its getting thin enough that I'm going to put on another bale. It's still thick, just not as thick as before. Since it's going to get HOT soon, I want as much mulch as possible. I figure it's breaking down into compost which is only good for the garden.
 

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I use rice straw for mulch also, and the secret is as SundayCrepes said, put it on THICK. Especially if you know you have wind. When you cut the bands that keep the bale together sheets of straw fall apart if you pull a bit. Try not to break those sheets up too much. Also, try to get SPRING cuttings of it, the rice straw seeds will be much less. It's supposed to be "weed free" wherever it is sold but often there are a lot of rice straw seeds in it and while they're easy to pull out it's a pain to do it if you're already battling other weeds! I always try to stock up on several bales of spring cuts so I don't end up having to buy seedy fall cuts.<br><br>
So, knowing it is cheap and breaks down really well, buy more than you think you will need. That's my 2 cents <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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This is my second year doing newspaper and straw. I forgot to put newspaper in half of my strawberry bed last year and it was very noticable. The part with newspaper was weed free and the part with only straw had to be weeded.<br><br>
I have found that newspaper will blow away in seconds, but when I put the straw on top it keeps everything in place. It all lasted for 4 months last year. We live on top of a hill and don't have any trees, so we do get some strong winds up here. We actually had one of those heavy wooden play sets with a sandbox on the bottom tip over in the wind. The straw and newpaper stayed put.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks ladies! Great to know! I'm off to buy a bale of straw now. I think it is barley straw, which is supposed to be good since they harvest the barley, then the straw, so it should be pretty much seed free. I'll have to do one bale at a time since that's all that will fit in my car, but I'll see how far that takes me and I know where to gets more (local feed supply).<br><br>
Here's wishing us all a relatively weed free summer.
 

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Not something you can do right now, but I'd reconsider tilling the mulch in the fall, let it stay as mulch so you have a head start for next year. Maybe think about an annual cover crop planted in the growing areas in the fall if your wanting to add more organic to the garden, it may help choke out the weeds too. Gather fallen leaves in the fall and save them for mulch, it's tempting to chop them up and mix them in the growing areas but saving them for the paths and around growing plants will help with your weed problems. If you are worried about the leaves all blowing away, just make sure to get them nice and soggy and just starting to rot down.<br><br>
Personally I would rather have a smaller area heavily mulched where it actualy keeps the weeds out than to spread it too thin and have weeds all over the place.
 
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