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Cotton sheets instead of cardboard for mulch?  RSS feed

 
Carma Nykanen
Posts: 74
Location: PNW zone 7
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chicken food preservation forest garden
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I'm looking for a longer lasting layer to suppress tenacious weeds for the food forest (up to three to five years)

Could I use cotton sheets instead of the cardboard? Or both?  I plan on putting a very thick layer of wood chips on top.

My thought was to do one /two layers of all cotton sheets and plant through  them the parts of the guild.  By the time the cotton sheet is used up the plants should be on their way.

I'm in the Pacific Northwest and the grass and buttercup are loathsome.
I'm onto my fourth year of inching along with the food forest.  My previous years efforts using just cardboard and woodchips are not cutting it.

I'm also considering doing a spaded out "v" along the edges so I can more easily maintain the boundary from the encroaching baddies. Any other ideas here?

I have used an old cotton duvet in one area of the garden a year ago and it's holding its own pretty well, which gave me the idea.

Anyone have experience here?  Anything else to be aware of?

Any other better ideas?


 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think a cotton sheet will make a good physical barrier, but might not make a good light barrier, so the layer of wood chips is a good idea.  Make sure, which I'm sure you will, that the sheets are indeed 100% cotton.  You don't want tiny plastic bits in your soil from polyester blend sheets.

 
Carma Nykanen
Posts: 74
Location: PNW zone 7
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chicken food preservation forest garden
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Good to hear Tyler, and Thanks for your reply. 

I'd sure not want to have to live to regret it if it was a mistake to put them down.  And yes!  all cotton, preferable old and used to have even less toxins in them from the fabrication. 

I was watching the Permaculture Orchard and they are using thick durable plastic as a barrier and I TOTALLY understand as to why they'd want to do that.  I am hoping for a better biodegradable solution in the beginning and hoping the thick planting of the guild would suppresses the unwanted plants enough to not have it be as much of an issue in 3 years.   Although the morning glory would love to have a go I'm sure.

What is the best way to create a barrier to prevent the baddies from creeping into the wonderful moist habitat I am creating?

I thought to create a dirt barrier so I can SEE if any are sneaking in from the edges.  But bare dirt isn't usually 'allowed'.

Any other thoughts on the subject anyone?  What about edging of some sort pounded into the dirt to not allow runners in the dirt to work their way in?  It'd have to stick out of the ground a mite to not allow the weeds to go over.....

I come to work in this area only occasionally when I'm not working to expand so I don't mind some extra work in the 'now' to not have to gnash my teeth later.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 498
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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Cotton sheets, old jeans, burlap sacks, wool, etc....all make good mulch and do an admirable job snuffing out weeds for a period of time.  Any sort of organic matter that will break down overtime, allows moisture to infiltrate, but not escape are really great to use for smothering out grasses.  Keep in mind that once you get your food forest established some of those grasses and forbs aren't necessarily a bad thing, and are part of the natural system.
 
Peter Kalokerinos
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Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
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I'd only do this if I knew 100% it was organic cotton. And even then, that might be hard to ascertain.....perhaps have a look at how its currently grown, if you follow me.

Now pushing all that to the side, what contamination risk is there for really old cotton? not sure. But then, what has it been washed in? who knows...

 
Carma Nykanen
Posts: 74
Location: PNW zone 7
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chicken food preservation forest garden
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Dave - I didn't think about jeans or burlap!  Thanks! I have an ad on Craigslist for anyone that is ripping out old wool carpet to be able to dump at our house vs paying to dump it.  I should include those types of things.  Other avenues to seek out - perfect.  I'm ok with the natives/invasives to come in once the new guild is established.  You are right.  They are amending the environment right before our eyes.  It's just they and I have different agendas at times

Peter - I do follow you. I also thought about the factor of what it was washed in.  I wonder if I did a good boil and then a wash after that with a stripping sort of soap if that would de-contaminate it as much as is possible.  I would like to have it be 100% organic, but figured if it was old enough perhaps most of the ick would be gone or not perhaps not used as much in the making...?  Perhaps the re-use factor instead of waste would be nice, vs reaching for too much perfection where I end up with nothing in hand..  It's a struggle with highest desires and feasibility and all that. Thanks for your input.

Anyone else have anything that comes to mind? 

With Bamboo, mint and other plants that like to spread we can put them in pots or contained areas.  Has anyone tried to do the reverse and had any methods to share to keep the invasive plants out, at least for a few years?

What have you used in your guild for minimizing root and sunlight competition? 

I want to be able to add plants to the guild as it matures as well......  Whatever I use needs to be able to allow for that...


Even a small thought or idea can turn into a movement.. share freely!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Carpet is likely to have various non-wool materials in the backing material, even plastics.  Unlikely to be 100% wool.

 
Carma Nykanen
Posts: 74
Location: PNW zone 7
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Hmmm... you are right.  I wonder if rugs wouldn't be the better way to go.  Cotton runner rugs,.... hmm.  I'm going to have to think about that some more. I have a wool braided oval rug but it's not ready for the compost bin yet
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I mulched my orchard with scraps of commercial carpet. It's a temporary measure,to kill off grasses that were too much work to chop n' drop on the municipalities time schedule.
I will roll up sections at a time, till and seed nitrogen fixers.
There's a lot of the stuff,so I will be trying it out as a substrate for "stucco" on the storage barn.

If I where to purchase something for sheet mulch it would be  wood fiber hardboard.
Most recognizable as peg board, it also comes unpainted and un-holed,is impenetrable to plants,and lasts for years in contact with my soil.
 
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