As grower, one of the things we inevitably have to deal with on our farms are weeds. While there are a number of ways to keep weeds off our beds, let’s face it—we all wish for that one magic cure that just makes them disappear, so we never have to deal with them ever again.
But sadly, there is no such thing. Though the good news is that we have a number of weed control options at our disposal.
If you’ve been following Urban Farmer Curtis Stone for a while, then you may have noticed that he used to use landscape fabric on nearly all of his beds. But that changed when he began using the Paperpot Transplanter on almost all of the crops he does.
In a video released by Paperpot Co., he answers the question: Is he spending more time weeding now that he traded his landscape fabric in favor of using the Paperpot Transplanter?
Landscape fabric is one weed control measure many growers have tried and stuck with. This fabric is made of textile material that blocks out the sunlight to inhibit weed growth but is permeable for water to seep into the soil.
It is usually placed on and around beds to prevent crops from having to compete with weeds. Using landscape fabric effectively reduces weed pressure—not to mention is also environmentally friendly—which is why many growers favor using it on their farms.
Paperpot Transplanter, No Landscape Fabric: More Weeding?
When asked if Curtis now has to weed more because he instead uses the Paperpot Transplanter, the short answer is no, he doesn’t.
In the video, Curtis was standing out in the field, and he showed that they still used landscape fabric on their farm, specifically on the perimeter of the plot as well as on the walkways. But while there wasn’t any landscape fabric on the beds of lettuce, they still use the landscape fabric on longer-season crops such as tomatoes, which is what Curtis would generally recommend.
Using the Paperpot Transplanter vs. Using Landscape Fabric
Curtis asked: is using the Paperpot Transplanter justifiable if you’re doing a single row of crop that is spaced ten inches apart? Depending on the volume of crop you’re doing, then it might be. But seeing as Paperpot has yet to carry paper chain pots that are 10 inches in spacing, then that may be a dealbreaker.
Transplanting thousands of feet worth of crop with those specifications may be worthwhile, but on a smaller scale, probably not. Say you’re farming on an acre, and you’re planning on doing a couple of thousand feet worth of patty pan squash at 18” apart, then it might not be worth doing with the Paperpot Transplanter. You might be better off placing landscape fabric on your beds and then hand transplant into the holes.
In the end, it all comes down to time.
From a Time-Savings Perspective
Curtis showed the lettuce beds behind him and made a comparison of how much time it takes to transplant that bed by hand versus using the Paperpot Transplanter.
If a grower experienced in transplanting takes a half hour to 45 minutes to hand transplant a 50-foot bed of lettuce, and using the Paperpot Transplanter would only take about four minutes, then there’s about 25-40 minutes’ worth of time savings with the tool.
On the other hand, while a less experienced grower may take an hour to hand transplant that same bed, it may only take ten minutes to finish the job with the Paperpot Transplanter, which still saves 50 minutes’ worth of labor.
Even dropping the use of the landscape fabric and having to come in and either do a weed cleanup with a stirrup hoe, or superficially weed the bed by hand, it would only take around five minutes to clear that bed.
And even if it took thrice that amount of time to get rid of the weeds, there’s still 35 minutes’ worth of saved time, which, to Curtis, justifies the use of the Paperpot Transplanter.
Landscape Fabric’s Place on the Farm
Even if you decide to skip using landscape fabric on your beds, they can still have a place on your farm. Placing them over walkways and around your farm’s perimeter, which Curtis does on their plot and in some of their greenhouses, would prevent any weed seeds from blowing onto the beds and germinated weeds to crawl towards the beds.
And while Curtis may prefer using the Paperpot Transplanter over using landscape fabric on his beds, it still depends on you, your farm, and your context if the same would work for you. But if you already own a Paperpot Transplanter, then it might be worth the try!