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chop and drop turns to overtop and flop  RSS feed

 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 774
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
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I thought I pass along some observations of how the summer is going
for background,  I have a number of beds which I started  several years ago using cardboard/newspaper sheet mulch over yard/old pasture
I planted berries and comfrey and  fruit trees in the beds.  I try to minimize my input and let whatever else grew become chop and drop

these volunteers included grasses, yarrow, creeping charlie, wild blackberry bushes, garlic mustard, goldenrod, queen annes lace, poison ivy, catnip and several other mints, pokebery, burdock, nettles
seedling from sassafras, cherry, black locust, box elder,honey locust  plus various vines, thorny roses and other weeds.

this made for plentiful amounts of material and in the past it wasn't a problem
but this year, due to the hot weather and me getting older, I got behind in my cutting
the "unchopped" had a banner year and overtook many of my planting, smothering some,esp. black currants
I spent the last week clearing out beds looking for survivors, most will be ok
unchopped comfrey can be heartless

I guess the moral of the story that when you design a chop and drop system
you HAVE to "chop and drop"
 
Karen Donnachaidh
pollinator
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Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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So you planted the comfrey that got out of hand but everything else you mentioned are plants/weed volunteers that broke through the cardboard/ newspaper mulch, right? That doesn't speak well of that kind of barrier. I've recently used the newspaper and wood chip mulch in several places, I hope it holds back the weeds better than the picture you've painted for me.
 
duane hennon
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Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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hi Karen,

the cardboard/paper woodchip barrier is only temporary
think of it as giving your plants a head start by slowing down the grass
here, after one season, that protection is gone
one could apply new woodchip mulch every year if you have access to it

or one could apply chop and drop mulch that just shows up
I am surrounded by trees and my yard would revert to woods if I didn't mow
several times/ year.

yes, comfrey is a great plant but is aggressive and also spreads
sometimes it may be better to plant it in its own bed
rather than mixed in  with others
it could then be cut and the material moved to
other beds as mulch
a sort of, chop, carry, drop
 
Karen Donnachaidh
pollinator
Posts: 832
Location: Virginia (zone 7)
93
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Thanks Duane for the heads up. I'll just keep adding more wood chips and anything else I can find for chop and drop. I had wanted to plant comfrey too at some point. I'll take your advice and give it its own confined bed.
Now that you've spent a week clearing your beds I hope you'll be able to stay ahead of those weeds. Good luck!
 
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