Plastic, used as a "cover crop" (garden) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Lynn and I have been discussing how best to let the garden winter this year. I am thinking of laying plastic sheeting over the garden, with holes in it to allow rain in. My thoughts on this is that it will make a better environment to produce humus for turning under in the spring with no grass and weeds to be raked out. Has anyone else tried this?How did it work?

-- Jay Blair (, August 23, 2000


Don't do it, unless you know for certain that the plastic has a powerful sunscreen of some sort. I tried it one year and the sunlight made it brittle and it broke into thousands of little bitty pieces of plastic that kept "shattering" as I tried to pick them, rake them, blow them into a pile, etc. Tres messy, not a real good thing for the environment either. Tarp might work, but regular sheeting, I wouldn't. Just my HO.

-- Soni (, August 24, 2000.

Thanks, thats just the sort of info I was needing. Never thought about the deterioration aspect. Definatly don't want to contaminate a good terrace.

-- Jay Blair (, August 26, 2000.

We had a big pile of leaves on part of our garden for a while -- just being stored there until hubby had time to spread them around where he wanted them. I think they were actually there longer than just over the winter, but in any case, when he got around to moving them, the soil underneath (untilled sod to start with) was soft and loose -- you could stick your hand into it several inches deep. The earth worms had taken shelter under the pile, which provided nearly ideal conditions for them, and they tilled and fertilized the soil for us -- also broke up the sod and rotted it completely away. And there weren't any weeds, either. It takes quite a few leaves, but in the fall people are eager to find someplace to dispose of all their leaves. Just try not to get bags full of pine needles -- we've had several people dump pine needles by our sign asking for leaves. And if you have any wind on your garden site, you will want to devise some way to hold the leaves in place -- a few branches would do it, or whatever you can come up with that won't blow away but will still let rain get into the leaves.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, August 26, 2000.

Jay, as a semi retired builder, I seem to always have scraps of six mil black plastic (which is used as a vapor barrier under houses). I've used this in the way you are suggesting a few times, with good results. I do not poke holes in it, though; here, at least, in western Oregon, the idea is to keep the heavy rain from washing the water soluble nutrients out of the soil. The soil stays nice and moist under the plastic, without any introduction of rainwater.

Black plastic, in my experience, will last many, many times longer than the clear stuff, which I also have had deteriorate in about a year. The black has lasted quite a few years, and never has broken down into small pieces like what happened to Soni, though the clear did.


-- jumpoffjoe (, August 27, 2000.

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