Many vegetable producers rely on black plastic mulch or a biodegradable non-gmo corn-based alternative, like BioTelo, for weed suppression, warming soils, and getting an earlier start for some crops, ultimately resulting in earlier harvests. Using BioTelo eliminates the end-of-season removal and disposal hassles that come with the plastic since it biodegrades within the season.
We use BioTelo for tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, and some winter squash. But unlike other growers, at this point we do not own the means of laying the mulch very efficiently. Tractor-pulled mulch-layers do this work quickly and well, with the added benefit of simultaneously unrolling drip irrigation underneath the mulch.
Our method is… quite labour-intensive, and lacking in the irrigation department, but is still effective and not too time-consuming. Below are a couple of photos documenting how this work is done.
Here we’re covering the end with dirt so it stays in place:
One person uses the ‘rope on a stick’ to pull & unroll the mulch, while two people bury the edges:
The One-man Mulch Layer
Bryan sometimes does this work solo (and I wish we had some photo evidence!). He wraps the rope around his waist and walks backward straddling a bed to pull and unroll the mulch. At the same time, he hills dirt over each edge using a hand-hoe. Feeling inspired, Xander wrote a little rhyme to commemorate the feat. Here’s an excerpt:From his waist he pulls, the mulch he lays, The one-man mulch layer A few steps backward, this may take days,
The one-man mulch layer
And so on…