Gardening Without Plastic
Plastic is a nonorganic substance which adds nothing to the soil. Plastics cause a lot of trouble if you try to grow crops were they have been buried. In fact some believe that plastics can interfere with plant growth. I have seen where plastic has actually killed the soil by cutting off the air exchange of the soil. One thing is for sure the organic gardener can do very well without plastic. When you think about it what could be more unnatural than plastic mulch? Plastic keeps the soil untouched by sunshine, air, dew, or rainfall. Plastic does nothing to enrich the soil. With an organic mulch it breaks down into compost, humus and minerals. It also lets the air rainfall, dew and sunshine see through it to the soil beneath.
Of course you will have more work with an organic mulch. It will have to be replaced at least once a year as it breaks down and nourishes the soil. Plastic will set on the soil for years and do nothing for the soil. It will most likely damage it almost beyond repair. Hay, straw and leaves make good organic mulches, old newspapers, brown grocery bags and waste paper make an excellent underlayment for organic mulch. They provide a barrier to prevent light from reaching weed seeds and stimulating germination.
When you work the soil you bring weed seeds to the surface where the light will start them to germination. A layer of paper with a thick organic mulch on top will stop this from occurring and greatly reduce time spent pulling weeds. Thus freeing you for the more pleasurable aspects of gardening. Organic mulch can be laid in thick layers to mulch almost anything. From a box hedge, expensive evergreen border, a perennial bed, or a row of rhododendrons. These are all garden spots that respond well to a paper mulch. If you use a permanent mulch on your vegetable garden, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the absence of weeds. The paper can be covered with something attractive and organic. Such as hay, straw, compost, wood chips, sawdust or anything else organic. You must cover the paper with something or the wind will scatter them all over the neighborhood.
The plastic industry has been with us for about 35 years now. During that time they have made it the great objective of their research to develop more and more indestructible material and more uses of this material. They're great success, causing an ever growing burden on the sanitation department. This causes extra burdens on the tax payers. You can garden just as well or better without plastic. Even if that were not true. Organic gardeners that are really concerned with environmental contaminants must make up their minds to avoid using as much plastic as possible. It is one of the fastest-growing pollutants of all. A biodegradable plastic has required the industry to spend a sizable portion of its income on serious research and development. The biodegradable plastics are seriously expensive for anyone to use.
The reports regarding plastic have been extremely disturbing, for one thing plastic is practically indestructible, unless you burn it. Which causes air pollution. It can not be computed or digested. It is non degradable and incapable of being assimilated into the organic cycle. Our societies obsession with plastic has caused a blight on our land that time will not erase. We need to increase our efforts to improve plastic or decrease the use of it. How much nicer a reflection on our society it would be, if an archaeologist ten thousand years from now would insert a shovel into clean rich soil, breathe fresh air, drink pure water. Then name our present society for those characteristics, instead of the litter of plastic that is fast over burdening us.