by Texas Homesteader ~
What if I told you that you could use an ordinary paper feed sack to significantly reduce your time spent in the garden weeding, plus help preserve moisture in the soil and feed the earthworms at the same time? It’s true, y’all.
Preparing To Garden
Spring is on its way! I’ve already planted up my Indoor Greenhouse with my heirloom seeds. That way I’ll be able to put actual heirloom seedlings in the ground come spring.
Aaaaahhhh… Who else is dreaming of the garden season?
But now it’s time to get in & prep the garden for a new growing season. I’m a big fan of repurposing items wherever possible using my battle cry “Use Whatcha Got!
See how I use these empty heavy triple-layer paper feed sacks that would otherwise just be trash as a valuable time-saving asset in my garden.
Bermuda Grass – A Gardener’s Enemy
Around these parts, Bermuda grass is a wonderful forage grass for livestock, but a sneaky villain for any gardener.
I’ve finally found a way to Stop Bermuda Grass from my landscape plantings. This grass barrier has been so helpful in my landscape beds.
But the vegetable garden has always been a struggle to protect from Bermuda grass due to its size.
I mean, how do you stop the dreadful march of common Bermuda grass in your veggie garden? It invades from both above the ground with long runners as well as below ground with encroaching rhizomes.
In our area of NE Texas, Bermuda grass is the bane of the gardening season. Try as you may, you can never dig out all the underground rhizomes.
And once the dry hot summer months come it’s neigh impossible to dig through harder dirt to remove the threat. Those rhizomes grow deep sometimes. Deep!
I’ve spent more hot, sweaty hours than I can count on my hands & knees trying to dig Bermuda grass from my raised beds.
And I’ve lost that war Every. Stinkin’. Year.
Planning My Bermuda-Grass Strategy
So I got to thinking about ways to finally outsmart my Bermuda-grass enemy.
I know it spreads above ground by the runners, but with diligence and timely trimming that part can be overcome. We keep the grass cut short around my garden.
And any long runners that attempt to get into my fenced garden area will be removed by hand before they get a chance to root and continue their march.
Homemade Grass Killer Spray
If things get away from me and some of those runners do make it into my garden somehow, I’ll use my homemade Grass Killer Spray to kill the runners before they get a chance to take hold.
This is the only weed killer I’m comfortable using inside my garden area. (besides physically digging out weeds.)
But although this homemade weed killer works great against the top growth, it doesn’t kill the underground rhizomes. So it’s not a complete solution, just another tool in my outsmart-bermuda-grass toolbox.
As a secondary line of defense I’ll also often use my homemade grass killer to spray a swath around the outside perimeter of my garden to keep those runners from sneaking through the fence in the first place.
But what about those blasted underground rhizomes? How can I assure that the below-ground assault is won? Hummmm….
Creating A ‘No-Grow’ Zone
What if I created a no-grow area just inside my garden wide enough that the rhizomes would have to travel far before being able to finally being able to reach up for the light?
Maybe I could make those rhizomes use up all their plant energy just attempting to get to the other side. Hopefully that will result in weak or even dying rhizomes.
Using Empty Paper Feed Sacks
RancherMan has been saving empty feed sacks for me all year. Now I haul ’em all out of the feed shed, pull the bottom strip off of the empty bags and stack them all flat.
When I get several of them flattened out I haul them to the garden and layer them along the perimeter of my garden and between planting rows too. I’ll cover them with Free Wood Chips to make it look nicer. I have access to all the wood chips I want.
But I’m using these two waste products to set up my defense against having grass or weeds of any kind growing up in my walkways. This removes the chore of weeding for the most part.
Hot summer months with less weeding in the garden? Um, YES PLEASE!
Outsmarting Bermuda Grass In The Garden
Not only am I trying to cut down on weeding my garden walkways, but I’m also tackling my Bermuda grass problem. So the exterior walkways will be wider than normal.
Before the wood chips go down I first lay these thick multi-layer paper feed sacks flat over the walking paths. I’m careful to overlap them liberally so there’s less chance of weeds growing between edges of sacks.
I make sure to make the walking paths at the edges of my garden 3-ft or more wide to outsmart the Bermuda grass rhizomes.
(shakes fist) You’ll NOT win this year, sneaky Bermuda grass. You’ll NOT win!!
Finally I cover those paper feed sacks with a very thick layer of that free wood mulch. Done and DONE!
Not only does it look nice and make it easier to walk through my garden walkways even after a rain, but so far it’s also stopped Bermuda grass from entering my garden in the first place.
Winning Against Bermuda Grass
And believe it or not, it’s WORKED! No Bermuda grass runners have made it into my garden. (…and the clouds opened and the choirs sang.)
I’d actually won the war against Bermuda grass in the garden for the first time EVER! No poisons and no hands-and-knees digging sessions beneath that hot Texas sun.
I won the war by just using a couple of free resources that previously would have just been wasted.
I’ll be diligent every year to make sure it stays that way!
I love that I’ve been able to take a couple of waste products and use them in my garden. It not only saves me untold hours weeding in the hot Texas sun, but also preserve the moisture in the soil. Plus the earthworms love paper.
So those lowly feed sacks are actually helping my garden soil as well.
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
- How To Make Your Own Garden Soil
MORE Gardening Posts
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It just goes to show that there are so many ways we can repurpose & reuse. I don’t have feed bags to use but I do use old papers & cardboard. Congratulations on being featuring on #WasteLessWednesdays. Happy Spring! Sharing on twitter & pinning!
It’s really effortless most times Marla, just requires thinking outside the box sometimes. What you’ve already got oftentimes fits the bill quite nicely, solves a problem, saves some money or saves some landfill-bound trash (or ALL of the above!) ~TxH~
What a great idea. We use cardboard, but if we had these feed bags I’d be using them! Thanks for sharing on the Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop. This will be featured next week!
How awesome Katy – thanks for the feature! ~TxH~
Fantastic idea! I think I will steal it for our new homestead. Thank you!
Please do, Daisy. You don’t have to pay for something to reduce weed pressure, you don’t have to weed as much, the moisture in the soil is preserved and you don’t have to throw away the paper-sack byproduct of feeding your animals. It’s a high-five win all the way around! ~TxH~
I used feed sacks to plant potatoes in this winter. They are coming up great. When they are done growing I just have to dump out the soil and potatoes. I am using the sacks that chicken feed comes in that is more like webbed plastic.
All our feed sacks are typically made of paper, but my last chicken feed came in the webbed plastic bag like you described. I may have to give that a try, Marty. Thanks for the tip. ~TxH~
We do the same thing! All my garden paths are lined with feed sacks and then covered wth mulch. We also started a running gag a few years ago. We use old feed sacks as gift wrap. There have been some pretty creative variations on this theme! Thanks, for sharing!
Clever Anne – love the feed-sack wrapping thing. ~TxH~
Wow! I never thought of that! I have been saving cardboard boxes and throwing the feed sacks away! Thank you so much for this post!
We’re careful to remove the bottom rib before laying the sacks down Christianne. I found the string sewn into the top & bottom ribs just doesn’t deteriorate, so when it’s time to lay more paper sacks the strings from the prior layer of sacks will still be there, creating a mess. It’s worth the extra time to remove the bottom rib (the top rib being removed when the bag was first opened) ~TxH~
I will keep that in mind, thank you very much!
Using bags like that and keeps down the weeds is a Good Thing.
Tonia; if you have a Tractor Supply in your area make a note or flyer stating you; Wanting empty, paper feed bags and put on their bulletin board which is usually located back by the restrooms.
Yep, and it gets ’em out of RancherMan’s way in the feed shed too Colleen. And it makes something very useful out of something that would otherwise go to the landfill. ~TxH~
What a great idea, all we feed is chickens and there are only 8. I going to look to a neighbor who has goats and horses and see if I can get some from him.
Any of your neighbors that has those paper feed sacks will be happy to get them out of their way Tonia. Win/win! ~TxH~