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Old 04-24-2010, 08:44 PM   #1
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Default Old carpet as "mulch"??

I live in central Texas where a bale of straw can cost $12 and the city (Austin) keeps all the leaves and wood chips it produces for use in city landscaping. Bags of leaves picked up from neighborhood curbs are about the only cheap mulch I can find but, sadly, I don't have a truck to pick them up with.

My organic vegetable garden is situated in a yard full of bermuda grass. As a "mulch" I've surrounded the garden with a 3 ft. wide swath of old carpet pulled, with permission, out of the dumpster behind a carpet shop. It does a pretty good job of keeping the grass out of the garden and where the bermuda grows up thru the carpet, I throw more carpet on top of it. Since the summers here are so brutally hot and organic mulch is hard to come by, I've even considered using old carpet as "mulch" between beds in the garden.

Recently, however, someone asked about the potential of unhealthy chemicals leaching from the carpet. I figured UVs from the sun would eventually break down the carpet but never thought about chemical contamination of the soil as it degrades.

Does anyone have any idea if old carpet should not be used as mulch in or around a vegetable garden?? It works wonderfully to keep the bermuda at bay but I don't want to poison my soil.
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:44 PM   #2
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I have used carpet, but I had quite a lot of old wool carpets. I have also used synthetic carpets when a local apartment house recarpeted. The wool carpets were great -- they eventually rot. The synthetic carpets will not rot -- they just get stringy and catch on the mower so I quit using the synthetic carpet and started using newspaper and cardboard. I also use a lot of shredded junk mail. shredded junk mail with cardboard to keep it in place.

Does the carpet have unsavory chemicals? -- it might have. For food crops I would go with paper.

I have also used salvaged roofing and recently someone suggested using salvaged tin roofing. Flip it from one area to another as the weeds are killed.

Don't forget if you are using mulch to choke out weeds you need to water thoroughly before putting down the mulch.
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by hazelnut View Post
Don't forget if you are using mulch to choke out weeds you need to water thoroughly before putting down the mulch.
To make them rot instead of just waiting for lack of sun to do them in?
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Old 04-24-2010, 10:36 PM   #4
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[/QUOTE]I have also used salvaged roofing .[/QUOTE]

When you say "salvaged roofing" do you mean asphalt shingles? I've wondered if old shingles could be used in the garden but thought they might leach unwanted chemicals.

If it was old shingles that you used, did they break down? Since shingle roofs need to be replaced only after a decade or so, and I doubt even bermuda grass could grow thru a layer or two of them, they might be perfect for a 3 ft. border around my garden.

Gee, I wish I had a chemical engineer in the family.
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Old 04-24-2010, 11:12 PM   #5
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I've used old blue jeans, old cotton bathrobes, old cotton shirts, wool throw rugs and wool sweaters, and since jute rugs have been showing up on garbage day.... I've started grabbing those. I'm starting to learn about organic gardening but I 'm sure they use chemicals in the carpet manufacturing process and chemicals when cleaning them so we don't have any wall to wall carpeting in this house.... I probably wouldn't put it outside in my yard but that's just me. Roofing shingles are a petroleum product. Cedar shingles have been treated and no way would I want those on my house or left to decompose in my soil. In our old house I used wall to wall carpeting under a pond liner instead of buying the really expensive "approved" pool underlayments. I did what you did and asked a carpet store if I could have the scraps. All I had to do was make sure the carpet side was up so staples didn't puncture my lining. I think if I do another pond that needs a liner I'll just underlay it with jute.
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Old 04-24-2010, 11:13 PM   #6
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You didn't have that iris avatar when I was typing!!! I love it!!! I've got some iris. Which iris is that in the photo?
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Old 04-25-2010, 09:06 AM   #7
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The shingles I used were to keep invasives (wisteria) from coming up along a permanent path. They were torn off my roof by a mad man. [Still trying to prosecute].

Yep. they probably aren't organic -- they were fiberglas shingles. And they didn't hold up very long. The wisteria come right through. But I had a lot of them, and I needed to dis pose of them and I used them on an area that will be a permanent path - not used for planting.
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Old 04-25-2010, 09:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
...In our old house I used wall to wall carpeting under a pond liner instead of buying the really expensive "approved" pool underlayments. I did what you did and asked a carpet store if I could have the scraps. All I had to do was make sure the carpet side was up so staples didn't puncture my lining. I think if I do another pond that needs a liner I'll just underlay it with jute.
I have been meaning to post that as a question. I plan to put in a recirculating streambed/pond and have old carpet that we took out of the *kitchen* (installed by the previous owner, not us). I'd love to be able to reuse it as an underliner, but have worried about how it may affect the environment.

I've also wondered about the asphalt shingles on the roof--we will have to replace the roof before long, and I thought they may be an option as an underlayment as well.

I'll keep reading to see what others may have said, and I'd appreciate any feedback.

Thanks.
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Old 04-25-2010, 10:05 PM   #9
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Thanks for the kind words about the iris photo, Equilibrium. That particular iris is called Pacific Destiny and it has a wonderful fragrance. It came from Schreiner's Iris Gardens (http://www.schreinersgardens.com/) Be sure to have a drool towel with you if you look at their website. However, its alot easier to see all their irises if you request a free catalog ....its like porn to an iris lover, which I am.

I would never have thought to use old cotton and wool clothes as mulch in my garden!! What a fantastic idea! I'm gonna start hitting garage sales late in the day in hopes of carting off cheap/free old clothes. I LOVE it!! Thank you!
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:51 PM   #10
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dapjwy> the old carpet is going to impact the environment one way or the other. If you don’t use it…. it’ll end up in the landfill and you’ll end up buying something to use under your water feature which adds to “consumerism”. Trade-offs…. It’s all about trade-offs. The only thing is you need to either sit down and remove as many staples as you can find…. I’ve known people who’ve done this or…. make sure the staples poking out are facing down or you’ll end up with a gazillion leaks driving you batty. Lemme know if you want any info on liners since I’ve used non-traditional pond liners and it saved me mucho $$$. BTW…. The “non-traditional” liners last just as long as traditional pond liners. ebw78745> ya…. I have a “thang” for iris so Schreiner’s was a narcotic source. I haven’t added any more since I’ve slowly and surely been replacing my ornamentals with edibles but I’ve got a few pockets of iris that’ll be left alone as long as I don’t end up with any borer problems and well… you know how it goes…. once an iris junky…. always an iris junky so who knows…. I might slop another pig trough in the ground some day for a Japanese runner. Hey!!! Don’t hit garage sales and spend $$$…. hit up your friends and family for their old t-shirts, jeans, and towels that are in such bad condition they’d be embarrassed taking em to Good Will or hit up garbage cans on garbage day. I have no pride.... I hit garbage cans in hose and heels all the time on the way to work. I leave early on garbage days.... just in case I need extra time. The “good stuff” is rolled up and sticking out of garbage cans. You can pretty much assume the jute rugs are “safe”. Seriously…. you don’t need to spend any money.
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