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How to overcome the weeds without the black tarp method? What would Sepp Holzer do?

 
Seth Marshall
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I live at 7500’ zone 4 in the Rocky Mountains.

My yard with poor soil is covered in weeds. I know many use the black tarp method to kill everything including the seeds.

I know I need to improve the soil and plan to seed heavily next spring with white clover, but I’m sure the weeds will continue to push through.

My goal is to establish a food forest and plans beneficial to improving my soil.  

Is killing everything “black tarp method” the quickest way to accomplish this so I have a clean canvass for my desired plants?

If not, how can I expect to establish a leafy green garden (or other foods) that would easily be overcome by the weeds?
 
paul wheaton
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Organic hay.
 
Ben Zumeta
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Organic hay will work, but so would wood chips from a source you know has not been sprayed w herbicides etc. It would suppress weeds equally well, and provide lignin (wood fiber) that will support fungal dominant soil your future food forest will thrive with. Deep leaf litter (again from a clean source) will also work. Another thing to consider is how most weeds thrive on disturbed soil in full sun. Shade from mulch or trees denies them the energy they need to grow, and therefore disables them from pulling water and nutrients (the sun powers the pump) in competition with your trees. Until we have something to plant in weeds place, they are doing the soil good by covering it and pumping in sugars/organic matter for microbes that will feed future plants. Weeds are generally just pioneers that will be naturally displaced as succession occurs.
 
Trace Oswald
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I love the black tarp method.  The only caveats for me are a) it takes a long time, and b) you need to plant the new cover crop or cover with wood chips pretty much right away when you remove the tarp, or weeds will just take over again almost immediately.

As mentioned, hay works, but here it's expensive, and it needs to be a very thick layer to work well.  Wood chips work, and I use them extensively here, but if you don't somehow kill the weeds first by covering or pulling them, they will often come back through the wood chips.  You can use something like the tarp to kill the area off first and then use woodchips, or you can use heavy layers of cardboard or newspaper and then put chips over.

 
Mart Hale
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Sepp has an excavator   weed not that big a problem to those.    

But in his book he uses rocks as mulch often  ( large ones )    they maintain heat  for plants.
 
Heather Sharpe
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I would encourage you to get to the know the "weeds" that are already growing there before taking any action to get rid of them. They can tell you a lot about what is going on with your soil and are often well suited to the task of repairing it. Are any of them edible? Medicinal? Good for pollinators and other beneficial critters? It's possible they could already be part of the leafy green garden you desire. I know I was amazed how many of my "weeds" were amazingly abundant food and medicine. And so much easier than anything I could plant! Zero work besides harvesting.

I certainly wouldn't recommend the black tarp method. Not only will it kill all the plant life (some of which could well be beneficial), it will interfere with water flow and can harm soil life too. Plus, probably leaching icky stuff from the plastic into your soil. Sheet mulching with cardboard and woodchips (or even just thick woodchips) is just as effective in my experience and much better for the soil.  

If it were me, I would watch and get to know the plants for now. Possibly in the fall when things die back, I'd mulch with fall leaves, wood chips or something like that to get some organic material into the soil and improve the water holding capacity. Then I would wait and watch what weeds show up/persist come spring. I would find out which ones were edible, medicinal or good for pollinators and birds and leave those. I would remove any seriously troublesome ones (like bindweed, for example) by hand and maybe try to make it so the better ones could out compete them. I might clear and mulch some small areas to be able to plant some things I wanted, but mostly I would just observe, probably for several seasons, before I did much.
 
elle sagenev
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You're in pine beetle kill area. Why not just get a cheap wood chipper and a chainsaw and get to it.
 
Anne Miller
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Heather said, "They can tell you a lot about what is going on with your soil and are often well suited to the task of repairing it. Are any of them edible? Medicinal? Good for pollinators and other beneficial critters? It's possible they could already be part of the leafy green garden you desire. I know I was amazed how many of my "weeds" were amazingly abundant food and medicine. And so much easier than anything I could plant! Zero work besides harvesting.



I love this suggestion!

I spend a lot of time researching all the plants on my property.  When a new plant shows up, the first thing I do is identify it and how can this plant be used.

I struggled this spring with bull thistle and sow thistle. I learned that sow thistle didn't like to be walked on.  Then the deer came along and ate it.  Now I have no problems with weeds.

A thick layer of woodchips is the best method to get rid of weeds because the woodchips bring microbes to the soil as they decay.
 
Seth Marshall
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Thanks for all your replies!  It sounds like I've been in the right path.

I've been at this property for year so have watched the weeds growing.  I know the use of the Lambs Quarters but not so much for the Hoary Alyssum and Scentless Mayweed both of which are noxious weeds where I'm at.  (I do with the Mayweed/False chamomile was the chamomile used in the teas.  I would have a ton to sell!)

I've finally gained upper hand pulling Thistle out for years, but I've started leaving the Mullen hearing here how it's not so bad.  I'm guessing it's sort of like Comfrey is as a dynamic accumulator?  Most everything else are grasses with various other flowering weeds (good and bad).  

I've been laying down wood chips every chance I get.  Hay sounds great too if I can find a spot where it won't blow away.  I may as well continue with the wood chips method especially if after the black tarp method weeds will continue to come.

Will clover take root over wood chips?  I know weeds will push their way through, but any advice how to encourage the plants I want to grow (from seed) to survive with mulch?  Do I clear a spot first, seed that area, and then mulch it?  I believe that's similar to what I would do with hay, correct?
 
Rebecca Norman
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When you want to plant seeds, push the mulch away and plant the seed(s). After they have come up and are tall enough, tuck the mulch back under the plant.
 
Jay Angler
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I admit I've got 3 categories of weeds:
1. weeds chickens will eat
2. weeds chickens won't eat or are toxic to them
3. weeds that hurt me (like Himalayan blackberry!)

Many weeds in category 1 are also edible by humans.

I'm also thinking more and more that with the heavy clay soil I have, *any* weed is a form of biomass that should be chopped and dropped to encourage the worms to make holes in the clay to come and eat the goodies I drop. By chopping and dropping the weeds, I don't need to buy hay or straw, both of which are expensive around here.

All that said, if there's a spot I really want to control weeds in, I've got some old fence boards from a fence that came down in a storm. I lay them flat on the ground side by side. Because they're only 5 1/2" wide, if it rains, the water goes through them into the ground. If some weeds come up through the cracks, I just lift the boards, chop the weeds and put them *under* the boards to decompose. This has a tendency to attract slugs who hide under the boards. I go out at dusk +/- early morning, I tip up the boards, use a trowel to drop the slugs into a container with some dandelion leaves or kale or similar, and take the container to my ducks for their breakfast. All this is still building soil at the same time.

Unfortunately, Himalayan Blackberry is a law unto itself - that's what Hubby's backhoe is for...
 
Stacy Witscher
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I also use different strategies for different weeds. I reserve black tarping for things like bindweed that at least for me have been resistant to other methods. And even then I work on a small area at a time. Most areas I prefer cardboard and mulch.
 
Janet Reed
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I got my weeds and grass mostly under control using cardboard and brown paper the last 3 years.

I don’t like and won’t use black plastic because the idea is to kill the weeds/grass not the soil. Anything under black plastic or weed barrier is just dead soil.

I’m building a garlic bed now about 15X 30 on lawn that is well established for about 30 years.

 I laid down 3 layers of brown paper from a roll and held it down with old bark.  On top of that I put 2 tractor buckets of last  years leaves. I’ve been wetting all that down a week.  Tomorrow I’ll cover that with cardboard ( thank you Amazon).  Then wet that down a week or so.  Then several tractor loads of plain old dirt to about 4-6 inches deep.  Then manure the whole thing and then a peat sand mix.

I’ll keep watering it til October or til I plant garlic.  After I plant the garlic I top it a few inches of wood shavings.

I did the same thing last year.  No grass.  And the few weeds that grew are easy to pull.

I mulch everything regularly with leaves and wood shavings.

I never rip up sod. And I have some massive flower beds.

In my garden beds I mulch with straw.  Beds and pathways.  No weeds.  No grass. Just straw every year. I do get oats growing now and then or wheat but it’s easy to pull.





 
Seth Marshall
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That’s building it from the ground up!  I envy those who have dead leaves— I’m in a pine forest.

Last year I bought a 12-sheet paper shredder and started shredding all my Amazon boxes. The worms in my worm bins love them.

I built my first Hugelculture this spring and it seems to be doing great (or maybe potatoes are just easy to grow). So long as I might build the soil up from the ground maybe I should just do it hugelculture style.
 
Janet Reed
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Absolutely!  I have less maintenance.  When I weed, I mulch.

I get my leaves from neighbors and from town.  When my town has  the annual leaf pickup I troll the alleys for leaf bags !
 
Marvin Weber
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Janet: I'm replying to your statement that "Anything under black plastic or weed barrier is just dead soil." Not exactly true.

I tested the soil life under a silver/black woven hay tarp using a Microbiometer kit. In this particular test, it showed more bacteria/fungi under the tarp than in the pasture grass right next to it. And the area in beans and peas also next to it was lower in microbial levels! Of course that was just one trial. I hope to do more tests soon and get more data.

This doesn't make tarp and plastic "good" all around of course. I don't use tarps much, but occasionally they can be very useful. Especially to get rid of quackgrass or bindweed. For me, cardboard and mulch haven't been fully successful for those.
 
Marvin Weber
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Seth Marshall wrote:
Last year I bought a 12-sheet paper shredder and started shredding all my Amazon boxes. The worms in my worm bins love them.



You must be supporting Amazon a lot!

We have a local business that sells a lot of household decor and they always have boxes available. You might be able to find a local place where you can easily get cardboard. We lay them on the ground on the grass we want to kill and add any mulch that we happen to have on hand. The worms eat them that way too.
 
Janet Reed
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Marvin, let me clarify.

The reason I use the term “ dead soil” is that if the soil is under black plastic or a tarp you cannot amend that soil, make it grow, build it, make it a living entity. You can look at it and see it’s not working.

I don’t have the inclination to look at microbes.

I look at what makes things grow well. I have used cardboard and brown paper, soil and mulch to rid my beds of weeds including bindweed and grasses. Yes, there’s still some I have to pull but it comes out so easily and there is so little of it that I can completely weed my massive beds in minimal time.  I have several thousands of square feet of beds and gardens.

I see no advantage to using black plastic. My own method is that I build my beds up and make them more fertile right from the start.  To me that time of black plastic is a waste of the time I could be building the soil while killing what I don’t need and turning it into vitamins for my soil.

We all have methods that work for us.  That’s why these discussions are so great and new gardeners can ask and learn.

I do have bind weed and grasses where I don’t mulch. And mullein and knapweed.
image.jpg
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Janet Reed
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Here’s my new garlic bed I’m working on.   Brown paper, cardboard, bark and today I’m spreading plain old dirt that I will amend.  This is on top of lawn that has been there since before we moved here in 1992.

It’s a lot of work
24A3CF7D-2F4D-44FE-A0C7-A2C67530D700.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 24A3CF7D-2F4D-44FE-A0C7-A2C67530D700.jpeg]
 
Chris Kott
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If Paul says Sepp would use organic hay, I tend to believe him.

But I would also think that Sepp might choose fast-establishing green manures, perhaps something like buckwheat that can out-compete most weeds.

One of the things about woodchips I like, especially in pine beetle kill territory, where those chips should be plentiful, is that it's possible to amend the area with the mulch on top with fungal slurries and actively aerated compost extracts.

Whatever the method of coverage, I would grow a living mulch, probably something in the squash family, with giant leaves that could cover the cover layer and produce a crop.

Whatever the specific coverage, bringing the soil life back will be made easier with compost extracts and fungal slurries. It is sometimes necessary to sterilise soil by solarisation to wipe out dangerous soil pathogens or problem plants. The sterilised soil will be healed afterwards. It's not like it's been drenched by toxins that kill life.

But clean organic mulch of whatever sort is always preferable to plastics in my book. The former turns into soil. The latter breaks down into microplastics and remains there until something capable of its metabolism either accumulates it or breaks it down enzymatically.

-CK
 
Myron Platte
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Weeds are indicators of the soil’s condition. Each one also has the superpower of fixing the problem it indicates. Thistles will pop up if iron and copper are unavailable or deficient. Bindweed and blackberries indicate unavailability or deficiency of calcium and phosphate. Quack grass indicates low humus, low moisture, and an anaerobic condition. If you want to get rid of the weeds, one of the best ways is to help them with the problem they’re working so hard to fix. Chop ‘n drop is awesome for this. You might use a broadfork and swales for quack grass. Calcium is supposed to be the only mineral that no plants can take out of the air, so for bindweed and blackberries you will want to amend the soil with bonemeal or eggshells, chop and drop the weeds, and plant buckwheat, which accumulates the same minerals.
 
Martha June
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I would love to know more of this type of information (what weeds indicate about the soil) and have looked for it unsuccessfully. Where do you find this info? I will try your suggestions to see if they work for me.
On other points in this thread, I've used both cardboard and mulch successfully for most areas. When I plant perennials (mainly flowers), they grow thick and crowd out weeds but when I grow veggies that I eat and then plant other veggies, there is time for weeds to come up in between plantings and I sometimes have to start with cardboard again.
Also, I use black plastic fabric for walkways. I tried it with holes for planting squash and melons but what I found was that the soil underneath became very compacted even if I didn't walk on it.
 
Ben Zumeta
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I would very strongly recommend against using black plastic for any reason on soil, but especially around perennials. With sites I have been hired to remediate, the plastic separated the tree roots from the soil they were creating with their leaf litter, and left an anaerobic brick underneath for their roots to struggle in. It makes absolutely no sense to me to try and separate the above and below ground ecosystems with organisms (trees) that need a healthy interaction between the two. The weeds always break through or just grow in the nice soil being formed on top of the plastic. I permanently injured my left arm removing that crap as well, this picture shows how it damaged the soil below with nice duff for the weeds to thrive on above:
D2E56309-0E6F-4911-8677-B3CD44E705FC.jpeg
[Thumbnail for D2E56309-0E6F-4911-8677-B3CD44E705FC.jpeg]
E092B93B-A7E2-459D-908D-AC1D08EC5F0E.jpeg
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Myron Platte
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Martha June wrote:I would love to know more of this type of information (what weeds indicate about the soil) and have looked for it unsuccessfully. Where do you find this info? I will try your suggestions to see if they work for me.
On other points in this thread, I've used both cardboard and mulch successfully for most areas. When I plant perennials (mainly flowers), they grow thick and crowd out weeds but when I grow veggies that I eat and then plant other veggies, there is time for weeds to come up in between plantings and I sometimes have to start with cardboard again.
Also, I use black plastic fabric for walkways. I tried it with holes for planting squash and melons but what I found was that the soil underneath became very compacted even if I didn't walk on it.



the book “when weeds talk”

https://bookstore.acresusa.com/products/weeds-and-why-they-grow
 
Marvin Weber
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Martha June wrote:I would love to know more of this type of information (what weeds indicate about the soil) and have looked for it unsuccessfully. Where do you find this info? I will try your suggestions to see if they work for me.



Here are some of the main books: Weeds, Control Without Poisons, by Charles Walters; When Weeds Talk by Jay L McCayman; Weeds and What They Tell Us by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer; Weeds,
Guardians of the Soil by Joseph A. Cocannouer.

When Weeds Talk contains a comprehensive catalog of weeds and what they supposedly indicate BUT I don't know how useful it is because it is not always accurate.  There can be many complications in the soil conditions which might be encouraging the weed that can't be diagnosed so simply. I wonder where he gathered all his information. Probably he included educated guesses. But I do consult the book when I want to learn about a new weed, and I just go with the assumption that that particular information is correct until experience shows otherwise.

Pfeiffer, writing in 1970, is a strong proponent of getting rid of all weeds through judicious tillage and possibly even chemicals. But he does have lots of good insights in his little book.

Weeds, Guardians of the Soil is a very interesting old book which dared to consider how we can work with the weeds. It is available free online. However, it has since been shown to not always be correct in its assumptions. So just read it with that in mind.

I am working on sorting out the information in these and many other books and comparing with my experiences as I go along.
 
Marvin Weber
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Myron Platte wrote:Weeds are indicators of the soil’s condition. Each one also has the superpower of fixing the problem it indicates. Thistles will pop up if iron and copper are unavailable or deficient. Bindweed and blackberries indicate unavailability or deficiency of calcium and phosphate. Quack grass indicates low humus, low moisture, and an anaerobic condition. If you want to get rid of the weeds, one of the best ways is to help them with the problem they’re working so hard to fix. Chop ‘n drop is awesome for this. You might use a broadfork and swales for quack grass. Calcium is supposed to be the only mineral that no plants can take out of the air, so for bindweed and blackberries you will want to amend the soil with bonemeal or eggshells, chop and drop the weeds, and plant buckwheat, which accumulates the same minerals.



Myron, in my experience quackgrass also really thrives in high moisture, high humus aerobic soil! And mulching is an ideal way to help it get established over a wider area; that way it can just send runners under the mulch for long distances and pop them out in the odd unprotected area for another foothold.

However I agree that in general, if you can make the conditions unfavorable for weeds they will be less aggressive and may even get sick and die. Sometimes the conditions for weeds and crop are the same though, such as lambs quarters and vegetables, for example.
 
Mark Reed
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I wouldn't worry too much about the weeds. If I wanted to plant  a fruit tree or a berry bush I would just mow, chop, or pull what ever was in the way, dig a hole and plant it. Then, pile whatever was removed plus more "weeds" from the surrounding area back on top as mulch.

I don't believe it is really possible, at least not for me, to change the soil I have, nor is it necessary. No need really to establish a clean slate. Just start planting and mulching with what ever is easily available, weeds, leaves, sticks. Pile it up around your plants a few inches thick and let it do it's thing, you might be surprised at how quickly your plants start to thrive and become dominant in the area.

A gas powered lawn mower, actually a giant weed eater on wheels string mower is the only power equipment I own. It can easily scalp the ground to nearly bare and if the weeds are allowed to grow tall between mowing they can easily be raked up for mulch. A nice sharp hoe can also be used. Keep doing that and things might just fall into place, no need to worry over details of what a particular weed indicates or what a particular food plant prefers.

I'm lucky in that I have the space to do it but I actually almost cultivate weeds such as thistles, burdock, horse weeds and Johnson grass for use as mulch and soil amendments. When I first settled here I hated those weeds but soon found them useful and soon after that found them becoming endangered so I assigned them their own areas and am now careful not to over harvest.

Your climate however is vastly different than mine so few specific things I do would work for you. Still I think the just start planting, mulching and observing is probably the best approach.

 
Trace Oswald
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Ben Zumeta wrote:I would very strongly recommend against using black plastic for any reason on soil, but especially around perennials. With sites I have been hired to remediate, the plastic separated the tree roots from the soil they were creating with their leaf litter, and left an anaerobic brick underneath for their roots to struggle in. It makes absolutely no sense to me to try and separate the above and below ground ecosystems with organisms (trees) that need a healthy interaction between the two. The weeds always break through or just grow in the nice soil being formed on top of the plastic. I permanently injured my left arm removing that crap as well, this picture shows how it damaged the soil below with nice duff for the weeds to thrive on above:



I can't imagine using black plastic like that.  I use black tarps, place them on top of the ground until all the weeds/plant life under it are dead, remove it and immediately plant the area.  If the black tarps kill the soil life, my experience with it shows me that it kills it for a very short period of time, and I've never noticed any ill effects.  I use cardboard in areas as well, but I still prefer the black tarps.  They go down faster, are easier to secure, kill off larger areas much faster.  As far as anything leaching from it, the tarps I use are thick rubber that don't break down in UV and as I said, I've never noticed any ill effects on anything I've grown there after.  I think it's just as likely, maybe more so, that the glues in the cardboard could cause issues.  I know the cardboard breaks down relatively quickly and releases the glues into my soil.  I'm not convinced that the tarps do that at all.  I think everyone has to research it to the best of their ability and decide for themselves what they are comfortable with.  Surely either method is better than the "industry standard" of poison to kill the area and then planting food in it.
 
Ben Zumeta
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Trace, I agree it’s better than poison, and I also could t imagine someone would do that until I went to interplant an orchard that was supposed to be a food forest with strawberries etc and found over an acre of the crap buried by nicely decomposed duff. It ended with a blown out elbow but we got it out. Then the school district maintenance crew mowed the trees and native shrubs o planted with the students of the school where the food forest to be was at. Many layers of messed up human factors led to that project finally being back in the hands of the local tribe who rightfully should own that land, rather than one guy with almost no help trying to manage 3 acres over an hour from my house in addition to another site in a closer location. Black plastic might make sense for some very particular applications like stale seed bedding for intensive annual market gardens, but that is not my objective. Best of luck.
 
Jay Angler
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Ben seems to be saying that one danger of using any sort of "plastic" is if people think it can be put down without a definite end point of pulling it off and planting in the now bare soil, it is leaving a mess for another person to clean up. I've definitely seen that happen with both landscape cloth and black plastic. Both will control weeds for a short time if properly installed, but tend to create long term problems.

Trace has clearly identified an approach of using a rubber tarp for very short term smothering of plants with a definite planting plan for as soon as it's done its job. I have done the same for creeping buttercup in a few places when I've got the plants already started to go in, but I actually find that getting buttercup roots out disturbs the soil more than I like, and if I don't get the roots out, it will often come back faster than my desired plants can out-compete it.  In a sense, covering the patch for 2-3 weeks actually composted the tops of the buttercup in place and seemed to help the plants that followed.

Before I knew better, I tried some tarps in places as weed suppression and as Ben identified, it was too easy for the maintenance required to keep the tarp from becoming buried in roots, to slip and a mess was left in it's place. I would not do that again. Personally, I would like this sort of practice banned from market gardens also, as it generates huge quantities of dirty plastic that we've got no good way to recycle. Luckily for me, we've got a local Fair Trade coffee importer who brings in beans in organic sacks made of  or burlap. Unfortunately, the thread used to stitch the sacks closed is not biodegradable, so I end up having to unpick it before use - I've gotten pretty quick at that!  However, if that's not available, maybe people will make a point of growing crops specifically for that sort of purpose. I've used layers of burdock leaves and wisteria leaves effectively. I've used old wooden boards in some places. What works may depend on the scale and what we already have available, or can arrange to grow.
 
Skyler Weber
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How about this  - use the natural allelopathy of plants? Sunflowers, Jerusalem artichoke,  wheat, rye, sorghum, oregano, and cucumber are allelopathic in that they suppress and lessen the growth of other plants. Here's my story. I finally got land and started my own garden with a ton of sunflowers. The first year I was weeding bindweed every other day. The second year, sunflower volunteers took over my garden and I had trouble finding the bindweed... but... but... many of my other vegetables didn't germinate or had reduced growth. That was a learning moment. Always rotate your sunflowers and compost their remains.

So, how do you put this into practice? Use these plants at the outside edges of your garden and set up a biodefence wall to keep the weeds out and the inside plants untroubled. The best combo would would a tall double row of sunflowers, Jerusalem artichoke, and the understory would have wheat for summer and rye for winter. The more allelopathic species the better because they exude different chemicals from their roots which affect different weed species. As always in permaculture, diversity is our strength... even when it comes to killing things,
 
Martha June
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Many thanks to Marvin  Weber and Myron Platte for answering my question about where to find info about weeds. Especial thanks to Marvin for reviewing some of the books. I will check out the four books mentioned, try some ideas on the weeds I struggle with, and see if I agree with the books' suggestions.
I have learned to appreciate some 'weeds' and no longer get exasperated with dandelions, plantain, lamb's quarters, and others. Instead I use them to eat or to make medicinals.
 
Myron Platte
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Point taken, Marvin. There's probably at least one or two deficiencies that we don't know of that contribute to quack grass's dominance. It does what it does for a reason.
 
Marvin Weber
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Myron, I would really like to know what makes quackgrass 'tick'. If you have any suggestions of possible deficiencies that might favor it, I would be all ears. It seems there would be a way of designing or soil building that would make it feel unwelcome.

I have checked pH and it seems to like a wide range of pH. I checked fungal/bacterial ratio and that didn't get me anywhere either.

It does seem heavy shade will exclude it but of course we're usually not trying to grow much in the shade of dense stands of large trees.
 
Myron Platte
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One anecdote I know of is that quack grass supposedly invaded Ruth Stout beds from regularly mowed paths. Too-frequent mowing causes compaction and low soil bacteria.
It seems to me that one possible key to quack grass is low photosynthesis. If nothing else, quack grass is good at keeping the supply chain of sugars going into the soil. I wonder if you will find quack grass invading a dense, multilayer polyculture.

The experiment that needs to happen is someone needs to watch a quack grass patch without touching it for years, and find out what the succession is. If it doesn’t succeed to something else, that means that there is an element missing, that is necessary to take the system to the next level. Animal disturbance, water availability, and presence of calcium are three conditions that can be necessary for the next step in succession.
 
Myron Platte
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Marvin Weber wrote:
Myron, in my experience quackgrass also really thrives in high moisture, high humus aerobic soil! And mulching is an ideal way to help it get established over a wider area; that way it can just send runners under the mulch for long distances and pop them out in the odd unprotected area for another foothold.


Soils that seem aerobic can still have very poor decomposition of organic residues, betraying the dominance of anaerobic bacteria. Also, it seems like quack grass can get started in an area with one condition, and later spread through rhizomes to areas that are not as conducive to seed germination.
 
Marvin Weber
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Thanks for your further insight, Myron. I realize the main area where we had quackgrass just taking over at our previous farm might have been somewhat anaerobic even if it didn't show. I would like to run a subsoil ripper through a patch of quackgrass and add compost tea, to see if the quackgrass would weaken. However, on pastures grazed rotationally I have noticed that quackgrass still stayed on even after subsoil plowing. I also now remember a garden area we subsoiled and sprayed compost tea on and the quackgrass was still there. I guess there are many more trials and observation still to be done!
 
Candace Williams
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I've used goats, chickens, ducks and pigs to rid the land of whatever I did not want so that I could swap that out for what I wanted. No mention here of that method.

Also Sepp Holzer inspires me by using air ,sun and water movements to control what grows where. Those can be funneled and trapped so that conditions on your land change. It's more complex than tarping the ground and has more long range effect.
 
Jay Angler
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Candace Williams wrote:I've used goats, chickens, ducks and pigs to rid the land of whatever I did not want so that I could swap that out for what I wanted.

That's a great idea for people with acreage and good fencing! City folk usually can't get approval for anything more "farm-like" than chickens - even rabbits and chickens are banned in the city nearest me.
 
Candace Williams
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That's true! But the statement, "what would Sepp Holzer do?" opens the door to using animals as helpers. Sepp considers them an important component. And in some locations there are laws making it difficult to make use of animals. I wonder what Sepp would do about that?
 
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