I Found More Hay To Mulch Around

I found more hay to mulch around my Early Girl tomatoes. It was behind the barn with the stall cleanings, but was clean and dry. My wife is using hay as bedding in the foaling stall and meticulously freshening it daily. It’s almost a sanitary area. The mare never had it so good. A whole stall full of food that is soft enough to lay down on. I used a pitchfork to roll the pile across the ground and all the horse turds rolled out. Clean enough for me. Of all the plants in the garden that thrive with a thick layer of mulch tomatoes are the first. They require a consistent soil moisture level and tend to develop blossom end rot if allowed to dry out and get soaked repeatedly. Calcium is the culprit in this disease but most soils have enough of it for the plants to thrive. It’s the constant stress on the plant of water/no water that makes it unable to utilize the calcium that’s present. Straw or hay mulch keeps moisture in the soil and takes the spikes out of the watering cycle.

I pulled up the rest of the first planting of peas today and used the vines as mulch. They are not good at weed suppression because they let too much filtered light through. It actually protects the weeds from the harsh light of mid day and allows their seeds to germinate more readily in the cool shaded and moist environment. I found this out when I used the bolted kale stalks along the fence line. Stalks and vines decompose more slowly when used as mulch so they make a great time release fertilizer. The cabbage leaves I’ve been using seem to be really working well at keeping the Creeping Jenny from encroaching on my planting beds. I’m actually thinking of planting more cabbage just to harvest their outer leaves as they grow. Grow my own weed barrier or buy weed cloth?

Now that the first planting of peas is out I’ve got room for another planting of corn. I can plant two rows on each side of the wire trellis. It will alter my pathways a bit but pathways change all through the seasons. When the melon vines overrun the pathways I just go around them creating a new pathway for the rest of the summer. The cabbage row that has been harvested makes room for a double row of beets. I’ve got a 3g pack of beet seeds from American Seed that cost 50 cents. It’s enough to do three 10′ rows. What a bargain. I’ll plant more for overwintering in August.

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