lazy proactive gardener, I always take early measures to control weeds. Last year, I used landscape fabric in the three “aisles” between my planting areas. I wasn’t real happy with it in the end. Though it did a fine job of suppressing weeds, it also got a weird unpleasant grainy substance on it whenever it rained — maybe it was just sand, but I was worried that it was some kind of plastic residue. It also deteriorated quite a bit at the end of the season and I had to hand-pick many tiny pieces of plastic out of the soil.
This year, I bought a roll of burlap at the hardware store and a bale of straw from Mother Earth Gardens. For our aisles, we laid down a thick layer of straw, then covered with the burlap and tacked it down with landscaping staples. So far it’s working great, and looks nice too. I put the rest of the straw around plants, leaving open only the areas where I’m waiting for seeds to sprout.
If you can find burlap bags from coffee shops who roast their own beans, you could layer them thickly enough to not even have to bother with staples or straw underneath. Warning: this is becoming very popular, so it might be a bit of a challenge to find them.
We also planted our potato tower this weekend, so stay tuned for a post on that as soon as I see signs of sprouting.
Also, can I just say it? I absolutely love my garden design this year. 2010 taught me a very important lesson: “scatter” planting does not work for me — I kept having to thin out and move around various plants, and it seriously annoyed me. My designer’s mind likes things orderly, even if they’re not in classic garden rows. Everything is much more orderly in the garden this year, yet I still have several different kinds of plants in each area.