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Are You Getting the Most Out of your Garden?

Or How to Get More Veggies with Less Work

Amateur farmers – that we are! Gardening can be a great way to improve your health with exercise, relaxation and quality food on the table. But are you getting the most from your effort?
Straw Mulch

Small, part time farmers need to get the most buck for their dollar effort if they want to enjoy their garden produce and make those calluses worth it. So hours of weeding are not a favorite pastime for anyone – just think of all those stretches though! Taking the time to prepare the area by tilling with a machine or by shovel is a great head start! Get rid of the weeds and grass before planting to make it easier later in the heat of summer. If you do have a rotor tiller make sure the rows are wide enough to use the tiller as a cultivator later too!


Broccoli and Pepper Rows
Cultivating with a hoe is great exercise but using it to hack tough old weeds in the middle of a July sun is hot, sweaty and might be neglected. Why put in the early spring time effort to quit in the middle? So… save some time with mulch. Not only does the mulch stop weeds but your veggies love it too as the mulch helps retain moisture around your plant roots. So bigger and more veggies guaranteed with a few bucks and a bit of cooler spring time effort! 

After planting your plants (wait till seeds come up high enough to be cultivated) cultivate around them, water them if necessary and then place mulch (we used straw this year - old is best and we paid $2 per bale) around the plants or in those hard to get places of your garden. Just do not use mulch with a lot of weed or other seeds in it and flower garden mulch is not the best for vegetables due to chemicals in the bark.   There are three kinds of mulching: area, row or plant.

For plant mulching the rows are left to rotor till and each plant has a blanket of mulch wrapped around it. We do that for stand alone plants like broccoli, peppers and tomatoes. We do row mulching for smaller spaced rows. For example herbs; like basil, parsley; lettuce, carrots, spinach and beets. Finally, area mulching is for plants that send out runners like strawberries, acorn squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkins.

Area mulching for Strawberries and Acorn Squash
The final benefit of mulch? When you till up your garden in the fall for next year, the mulch improves the soil for next year!

HAPPY GARDENING!


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2 comments:

  1. I am so ready to have a garden! Nothing seems to grow for me but I am hoping that I can get things started when we move to AZ.

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    Replies
    1. So true, Jen! What do you think you will grow in AZ? I have to admit PCSing in the middle of growing season would be a /major/ downer for me! I live for my garden :) But with each move comes adventure, right?!

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