Many gardeners, and even small farmers, are using plastic mulch in their vegetable beds to help with irrigation, fumigation, and keeping pests under control. Plastic mulch is installed differently than organic mulch and does require some attention to detail. Several steps must be taken to make sure that you do not actually damage your garden with the plastic mulch, but help it grow strong and vibrant. Here are the steps to take when installing plastic mulch in your garden.
Step 1: Prepare the Ground for Plastic Mulch
One of the problems with installing plastic mulch in your large garden or small acre farm is that the preparation of the ground is not adequate for plastic mulch. This type of mulch is not the same as organic mulch with the way that it soaks up water. Plastic mulch lets the water run through it rather than soak it up. Because of this any depressions in the soil under the mulch will hold water causing mold, and providing a place for insects. Smooth out the ground where you are going to place the plastic mulch. Make sure there are no holes or uneven areas and that the water can flow in one direction.
Step 2: Lay Fertilizer Before Mulching
Once you have the ground prepared for the plastic mulch you can then spread out a thin layer of granule fertilizer. Use the rake to work the fertilizer into the top soil.
Step 3: Dig Two Trenches
On either side of the vegetable bed you will need to dig trenches that are six inches deep. The trenches need to be at least six inches or the plastic mulch will not be able to be secured adequately. Use a shovel or a hoe in order to dig the trench, and much like the top soil area, keep the trenches a uniform six inches along the entire length.
Step 4: Roll Out Plastic Mulch
There are two types of plastic mulch that you can use. The first is a roll out type of plastic mulch that is secured with stakes along the edges of the trench. Roll out the mulch and drive the landscape stakes into it. Bury the edges of the mulch and make sure it is flat on the ground.
Step 5: Use Mulch Spreader
A mulch layer machine must be used with a larger garden, or farm. This type of machine can vary from a light push model to an advanced model that is pulled behind a tractor. There are different spreader speeds that will vary the tightness, depth, and level of the mulch as it is spread over the garden. A faster speed will ensure that the mulch is spread efficiently without any gaps. Run a test area outside of the garden to make sure you get the right adjustment on the way that the mulch is spread over the top soil.
Step 6: Water Mulch
Once you have run the spreader over the soil you will need to water the mulch just a little to make sure that it packs together on the soil. This will also give you an opportunity to check to make sure there are no areas where there will be standing water.