In an effort to try to keep the weeds in the vegetable garden down, we mulched our vegetable garden with a sheet of inexpensive black plastic bought from the hardware store (not the more expensive stuff from the garden center).
Black plastic certainly works well but most gardening books don't recommend it as it can be harmful to the soil. Soil is a living thing - teeming with bacteria and fungi which work to break down organic matter and free up nutrients for the plant roots. Plastic starves this microflora. It also adds nothing to the soil. It may give good results for a few seasons but the soil will deteriorate eventually. It shouldn't do too much damage if you use it for a short growing season and then remove it for the rest of the year but its better to use an organic mulch for vegetables as most of them live their entire life cycle in one season so they need a nutrient rich soil. A mulch such as pea straw, lucerne hay, or even newspaper covered with a mix of pulled weeds, leaves and grass clippings would be better and this will break down to enrich the soil. Look around your local area to see what organic waste is plentiful - ten it will be cheap. The few weeds that do grow are very easy to pull out from a mulch.
First year to use back plastic on pole bean, bush bean, and other assorted plants. The results are great less weeding in hard to weed areas.
Have not tried black plastic, I am trying newpapers keeping them wet.
Every year after planting my garden, I lay three layers of newspapers down around the plants, soak them good with the hose and cover with grass clippings - I never need to weed the garden. The clippings and newspapers rot away during the winter and are tilled under in the spring.
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