, Gloucester, MA


November 1, 2013

Killing weeds with plastic, and in the strawberry patch

Q: We’re planning to do a new vegetable garden next spring, and the space is really overrun with weeds. I’m trying to kill weeds using black plastic and, in my opinion, the cloth should be left over the area for probably three to four weeks, but my husband is saying two weeks is fine. We’re going through all this, and I want to do it right. Any opinion on the amount of time we should leave it on there?

A: Using black plastic to kill weeds will depend on sun exposure and air temperature, but I doubt that you can do it in two weeks. Many gardeners leave the plastic on over the winter. I hope you watered the area well before spreading the black plastic over the area. If not, pull the plastic back and water the ground now. Peeking under the plastic will also give you some idea as to how fast it’s working.

As the ground heats up, you will also be killing many of the weed seeds in the ground. Remember that now that the nights are getting colder, the area cools down each night and has to reheat each morning, so the colder it gets, the longer it’s going to take.

Tell your hubby that the more weeds and seeds he kills now, the fewer weeds he’ll have to dig and remove next season when he finally removes the plastic and begins cultivating and planting the area.

Q: What should I use to prevent weeds from growing in my strawberry garden?

A: Are these new strawberry beds or older establish beds?

You can weed again and again, but it’s not easy on your back.

Use a chemical weed killer — read the label carefully!

Use a weed cloth and drape it around each plant. If this a new bed, lay the weed cloth on the area before planting, then cut slits in the cloth and place the plant through the cloth — it’s easier than draping around existing mature plants.

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