Degradable plastic mulches are either photodegradable, breaking down after 30 to 60 days of exposure to sunlight, or biodegradable, broken down by soil microorganisms. Degradable materials do not need to be removed from the field following the growing season, and some may be incorporated into the soil to speed degradation. (Organic Production — Weed Management on Organic Farms ; North Carolina State University)
While more commonly used in Orchards, in 2008 this treatment was applied to garden crops.
Obtained shredded paper from local banks and shredded office documents Used cardboard to "contain" paper while laying it on soil Created 3 layers using water to mat the paper.
Weeds were definitely suppressed. However, transplants did not grow or produce. Seeds germinated very slowly but did not grow. Plant samples were sent to Servi-Tech labs to be analyzed for N (results indicated less than 3% N)
Planters Paper Facts
2’ x 100’ package $39.99 (www.groworganic.com); $ .19 per square foot
4' x 100' package $29.99 (www.johnnyseeds.com); .08 per square foot
Biodegradable, mulching paper is designed to be used for one growing season
When the edges are secured, the crepe in the thin paper allows it to hug the soil and to efficiently pass on the heat it absorbs.
Porous to water, it effectively suppresses weeds and keeps vegetables from contact with the soil, reducing spoilage
Made from recycled paper containing a resin binder and an anti-microbial to stop decomposition at the paper/soil interface.
Planters Paper Observations
Edges must be secured.
Installation can be difficult.
Two feet wide barrier may not too narrow for market gardens.
Excessive moisture can accelerate decomposition
Additional Product information fromKen-Bar.com
EcoCover website Information
Eco-One by Eco-Light
4' x 8000' available for $307.00 at robertmarvel.com; $.009/square foot
Both clear and black Eco-One oxo-biodegradable (OBD) plastic mulch have been used and sold successfully for several years. Eco-One is able to be sold in various widths to serve your needs. Eco-One OBD mulch films provide the strength required to ensure a tight fit over raised and flat beds, while improving growing conditions.
Benefits of ECO-ONE OBD Plastic Mulch:
- Saves you time and money – completely degradable so there is no pick-up or disposal - no labor, no cleanup and no landfill.
- Eco-One OBD has all the benefits of regular mulch such as increased yields, easy installation, earlier harvest, soil warming, weed control and moisture retention.
- Environmentally sound degradation: Laboratory studies indicate that this degradable plastic breaks down into CO2, H2O and biomass without toxic residues.
- Degrades fully both above and below the soil.
- Eliminates pickup and disposal costs