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Weeding, although it is considered one of the most important and necessary procedures for caring for plants in the garden, it is difficult to find a person who would enjoy this activity. It usually happens the other way around, it is because of weeding that many beginners get acquainted with garden wisdom, quickly cool down for these activities and prefer to buy vegetables and berries on the market than to grow them themselves. However, scientific progress does not stand still, and recently materials have appeared that can greatly facilitate the work of a gardener and gardener and minimize the procedure for weed control.
Covering material from weeds differs in variety both in its quality characteristics and in its area of application.
Agrotextile and its varieties
Those who have been engaged in gardening for a relatively long period have probably heard, and maybe even experienced what agrotextile for a vegetable garden is. Despite its artificial origin, this material does not at all resemble film in its properties. It has appeared quite a long time ago and opinions about its use among gardeners and gardeners are sometimes striking in their contradictions. And the fact is that many, even experienced gardeners, do not always see the difference between its main varieties and often call the same thing by different names. Or, on the contrary, completely different materials by their properties and purpose are called by the same name. This confusion needs to be cleared up a bit.
Agrotextile, and sometimes it is called geotextile, is a general name for two types of covering material for beds made from polypropylene: non-woven material (agrofibre) and, in fact, fabric (agrotextile).
Historically, agrofibre was the first to appear, the technology for its production is called spunbond - in recent years this name has become almost a common name for all materials with covering properties. The texture of the agrofiber is reminiscent of a material with many small round holes.
Agrofibre can be of different density and color: from the thinnest (17g / sq. M) to the densest (60g / sq. M). Colors are white, black, and in recent years, multi-colored ones have appeared: black and white, red-yellow and others. Only dense black agrofibre is suitable as mulch.
Important! The recently appeared double-sided agrofibre in black and white can be a good option for areas with hot climates to protect the root system of plants from overheating.
To do this, lay it in white on top.
Agrotechnical fabric is a woven material of high density (from 90 to 130 g / sq. Due to its woven base, its texture is an interweaving of threads that form cells. It is most often black, but also green and brown).
Agrofibre has incomparably great strength characteristics that are incomparable even with the most durable agrofibre models. Therefore, they have slightly different areas of application. And it is difficult to compare them in terms of price, of course, agrotechnical fabric will be several times more expensive than agrofibre. But as a covering material from weeds, both agrotechnical and agrofibre do a good job with their duties, although there are some nuances here too.
Agrofibre and its use against weeds
The fact is that the technology of manufacturing spunbond or nonwoven fabric itself is used not only in agriculture. This material is also widely used in light industry, in the manufacture of hygiene products, in the construction industry and furniture production. But these materials differ from agrofibre primarily in that they lack an ultraviolet stabilizer, which means that they are not intended for use when exposed to solar radiation. This does not affect the appearance of the material, but its price can be much cheaper.
Advice! Do not buy bulk agrofibre for weed control without manufacturer and UV stabilizer information.
After all, such a material of the appropriate density (60g / sq. M) should serve you for at least three years. And if it began to crumble by the end of the first season, then you obviously bought something wrong.
Agrofibre is most often used to cover the soil surface when growing strawberries.
In case of renewal of the strawberry plantation, the material is thrown out together with the old strawberry bushes that have served their time. Agrofibre is good at protecting strawberries from weeds, provided that they will not be walked on. Otherwise, its mechanical strength may not be sufficient. But for the device of paths between the beds, the best option would be just the use of agricultural fabric.
Agrotextile and its properties
Agrotechnical fabric, which has high strength indicators, differs little from agrofibre in its other characteristics. Using both materials allows you to get the following benefits when growing plants.
- The materials make it possible to warm up the soil in early spring much faster, which has a beneficial effect on the timing of the harvest. And for such thermophilic crops as peppers and eggplants, the use of covering agromaterials allows you to plant seedlings at an earlier date.
- Both varieties provide free penetration of air and moisture. Therefore, during the rains, the beds are provided with full watering, but the ground under them remains loose - there is no need for loosening. It is only necessary to take into account that agrotextile, being heavier, may unnecessarily press down on the delicate root system of some plants, for example, strawberries.
- Both materials are reusable. But if the deadline for agrofibre is 3-4 years, then agrotextile can easily live even 10-12 years.
- These materials do not provide a fertile environment for the development of fungal diseases. Slugs are also not interested in settling under them.
- The material from which both types of agrotextile are made is not capable of emitting harmful elements with possible strong heating by solar radiation and does not react with any substances: soil, water, chemical compounds.
- Both materials perfectly protect against the germination of annual weeds, and more or less well resist perennial rhizome plants. Agrotextile is more reliable and sustainable in this regard, so if you are in doubt about which material to choose, proceed from how important it is for you to completely suppress all weeds.
There is another variety of these materials called geotextiles, which are also good at protecting against weeds. It usually means especially strong varieties of agrofibre, with a density of over 90 g / m2. Geotextile, in terms of its strength characteristics, is approximately halfway between agrofiber and agrotextile.
Until recently, black weed film was the main material used by gardeners. Since it has excellent darkening properties, the weeds underneath do not really survive. The disadvantage of this material is that since it does not allow water to pass through, the condensate accumulating under it causes the development of fungal diseases. In addition, it usually lasts for one season.
Advice! In order not to change it every year, you can purchase a reinforced film - it is stronger and you can even cover the aisles between the beds with it.
Reviews of gardeners
Reviews of the use of black weed coverings are generally quite positive. Some disappointments seem to be related to the choice of an unsuitable grade of material not intended for agricultural use.
Anastasia, 32 years old, Tver
For a long time I did not dare to grow strawberries after having seen enough of how my friends and relatives suffered with it. All spring and summer they disappeared in their beds. And then I heard about a new non-woven material and decided to try to plant several beds. I did it right the first time, and I'm so glad. The berry ripens clean, it is very pleasant to pick it, and the weeds almost did not grow. For the winter, I did not remove this material, it wintered well and, I hope, this year there will be even more berries.
Oksana, 37 years old, Podolsk
I, of course, heard about how some friends mulch the ground in the beds with strawberries, but I myself have no way to get that much straw. Therefore, when I found out about the new breathable material in black, I decided to definitely try it. I bought a spunbond with a density of 60 g / sq. m. and decided to cover them with a new bed of strawberries. I prepared everything, as expected, made holes and planted seedlings in them. Once I used a film to control weeds, but I did not really like it, because the weeds did not grow, but slugs settled under the film and ate most of the crop. I did not notice anything like that under this material. At first everything was just fine, but after a month the first weeds crawled into the holes, and for some reason the strawberries even let their whiskers go right under the spunbond. Then I realized my mistake and laid all the bushes with flat decorative stones and planks, thus pressing the spunbond to the ground. It got much better, and although some weeds were still trying to rise under the material, I threw everything from above with mowed grass, and until autumn the weeds were no longer visible.
Mikhail, 49 years old, Saratov
When I first heard about spunbond, I was very interested in it, is it really possible to grow strawberries without painful weeding and without using chemistry. I didn’t cover my strawberries with anything before, but I spent almost all the time on planting. For the first time he covered a newly developed plantation and by the end of the summer almost nothing was left of the material. Weeds pierced this fabric in all places, and in addition, it began to creep itself. But I didn’t give up and did a little more research on all possible varieties. The next year I decided to try a material with the same name, but with a different texture. It cost more. This time I was lucky, the whole season I didn't even think about weeds. When I raised the edge of the shelter in the fall, it was clear that they were trying to grow, but could not break through this material and they all lay pale on the ground.
A variety of modern covering materials can greatly facilitate the work of the gardener. The main thing is to choose the type of material that is most suitable for your specific conditions.