We hate to weed, it takes extra time and usually ends in defeat. The amount of ground that we use for vegetable production is much larger than your average homestead. We sell what use and that is a major summer income for our farm. Simply put we just don't have the time and energy to fight the weeds as well as all other care these crops require. But, that not a worry for us anymore because we invested in a secret weapon. Landscape fabric, keeps us from being crazy!
Landscape fabric is UV resistant and designed to last many seasons. Which makes the cost a little easier to justify. The woven material is permeable, allowing air and water to reach plants while retaining soil moisture. The best part is it suppress persistent weeds. Without this fabric we fight a loosing battle with both Bermuda grass and Sudan.
Besides just being our secret weapon in defeating weeds we love the fact it extends our growing season. Because the fabric helps to warm the soil and keeps the temperature well, while holding the moister level in the ground for a longer time. The fabric warms the soil and plants more quickly in the morning and retains heat longer into the evening. It allows for harvesting late-season crops or starting early in the season to get the most out of your garden.. It also helps to keep ground touching crops such as cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, and watermelon from rot or discoloration, making for cleaner produce. A win , win situation for us!
When Shopping for landscape fabric weight and the thickness of the landscape fabric are the first things that you need to consider. We use the 3oz professional grade because it is toughest against the Sudan which can find a way to poke and prod its way through the thinner fabrics. Be sure that the fabric you purchase is enough to cover the entire garden space plus a little excess, so to avoid gaps in between the fabric sheets. Grass and weeds will find a gap. Also, the fabric will be stapled in place, so the cut should have a surplus of several inches. Using a torch to do the cut ,melts the fabric and helps avoid the fray strings from forming. You will also need to purchase landscape pins to keep the fabric down, or a strong wind will rip it all up, faster than you could lay it. We use the 6 to 11 inch staples depending on the area, if the pins are to short the wind will just pull them from the ground.
To plant in the fabric the fastest and best way is make a wood template with holes the size and spacing your plants require then lay the template on the fabric and use a small torch to burn the holes for planting. It is an added expense over planting straight into the soil, but for us our secret weapon is well worth a added expense to produce a better crop.