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More Information on Using Plastic Organic Mulch in the Garden

Organic gardener Tom Doyle disagrees with F.P. Hughes use of 1 1/2 mil sheets of black polyethylene plastic mulch suggesting heavy 6 mil sheets instead when gardening.

| September/October 1971

Tom Doyle, over in Indiana, also uses plastic mulch ... but he doesn't recommend the 1 1/2 mil poly that F.P Hughes uses.  

Without once touching a hoe or plow, you can harvest up to twice as much produce earlier in the season than you'll ever take from a cultivated garden. This may sound unreal if you're used to plowing and weeding but once you've tried gardening without cultivation you'll probably bid the hoe and garden tractor farewell forever.

Although you will have to prepare the soil for your vegetable patch the first year you try this method, all you'll do for the next ten to twenty years is plant seeds or seedlings in already-made holes using organic mulch and reap the abundant crop that gets better and better each year.

How can you accomplish so much with so little work? By using sheets of 6-mil or heavier black plastic to create your own tropical growing conditions under a lasting, fool-proof mulch. Your plants will grow through holes cut in the plastic and the weeds that usually flourish between rows will be smothered by the film. There's virtually no weeding with this method.

Plants grown this way are bigger and mature earlier because the plastic lengthens their growing season. Usually, in the chilly spring of northern climates, the earth is warmed by the sun's heat in the daytime only to cool again at night. The six mil polyethylene mulch holds that heat in the ground overnight, making it possible for the plants to grow 24 hours a day and 30 extra days each year.

The plastic also draws moisture from deep in the ground to the earth's surface during the day, where it condenses at night. This gives your plants moisture at all times and creates a near-tropical condition under the film, making the soil increasingly rich and moist.

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