Posted in Amendments, Bean, Beets, Carrot, Chard, Companion Plant, Compost, Cucumber, Disease, Eggplant, Fusarium Wilt, Green Beans, Heat Tolerant, Jicama, Lettuce, Manure, Melon, Mildew, Mulch, Mycorrhizae, Okra, Onion, Pepper, Pests, Pumpkins, Radish, Raised Beds, Snails & Slugs, Soil, Squash, Straw Bale, Strawberries, Summer Plants - Warm Season, Teas- Compost, Manure, Worm, Tomato, Turnip, Veggies!, Verticillium Wilt, Watering, Watermelon, Worm Castings, tagged air, bale, bean, beet, berm, bugs, cage, canopy, capture, carrot, chard, chop and drop, coastal, community, companion, compost, cucumber, debris, degradable, disease, dry, earth, eggplant, erosion, feed store, free, fungi, fusarium, garden, germinating, grass, habitat, heat, hillside, hot, humidity, inoculate, jicama, kitchen, layer, leaves, lettuce, light, living, manure, marine, Mediterranean, melon, mildew, moist, mulch, mycorrhizal, okra, onion, organic, organism, overwintering, pepper, pest, Pilgrim Terrace, pine needle, Plant, pumpkin, purslane, radish, rainwater, raised bed, Red, redwood, root, salad, seed, slug, SoCal, Soil, Southern, sprout, squash, staw, strawberry, sunny, sweet, tea, terrace, tolerant, tomato, transplant, trellis, turnip, verticillium, water, weed, wilt, wind, winter, worm, wriggler, yarrow, zone, zucchini on June 11, 2011 |
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I used to be a total mulcher, covered my whole veggie garden. I’ve adjusted my coastal SoCal mulch* thinking to match the plant! Same goes for composting in place. That’s a good idea for some areas of your garden, other areas not at all!
If you are coastal SoCal, in the marine layer zone, your mulch, or composting in place, may be slowing things down a lot more than you realize. The best melons I’ve ever seen grown at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden were on bare hot dry soil in a plot that had a lower soil level than most of the other plots. The perimeter boards diverted any wind right over the top of the area, the soil got hot! It was like an oven! So, let it be bare! No mulch under melons, your winter squash, pumpkins. Put up a low wind barrier – straw bales, a perimeter of densely foliated plants, a big downed log, be creative. Let your peppers and jicama get hot! Eggplant is Mediterranean, maybe coastal, because they like a little humidity, but still are heat lovers! Okra is Southern, hot. Tomatoes need dryer soil to avoid the verticillium and fusarium wilt fungi. Let ‘em dry nearby, water a foot or more away from the central stem. Let that tap-root do its job, get the water below the wilt zone, the top 6 to 8 inches. Drier soil is not comfy for slugs. Get cucumbers up on a trellis, then you won’t need mulch to keep the cucs clean and bug free, but rather because they have short roots. Plant heat tolerant lettuces at their feet to act as living mulch. They both like plenty of water to keep them growing fast and sweet, so they are great companions. In that case you will need to use a little Sluggo if you feel comfortable to use it.
Closely planted beets, carrots, garden purslane, radish, turnips act as living mulch to themselves. The dense canopy their leaves make lets little light in, keeps things moist. If you cage or trellis your beans, most of the plant is up getting air circulation, keeping them dryer, more mildew free, if you don’t plant too densely. They, and strawberries, also have short feet that need to stay moist, so do mulch them – your beans with clean chop and drop or purchased mulch, your strawberries with pine needles they love. Chard likes moist and cooler, so mulch. Zucchini, doesn’t care. They are a huge leaved plant, greedy sun lovers, that are self mulching. But, you can do what I do. Feed them up through the largest tomato cages, cut off the lower leaves and plant a family of lettuces, carrots, onions, salad bowl fixin’s on the sunny side underneath! All of them like plenty of water, so everyone is happy.
If you are going to mulch, do it justice. Besides wanting to cool your soil, keep moisture in, prevent erosion, keep your crop off the soil and away from bugs, and in the long-term, feed your soil, mulching is also to prevent light germinating seeds from sprouting. Put on 4 to 6 inches minimum. Less than that may be pretty, but simply make great habitat for those little grass and weed seeds! Mulch makes moist soil, where a rich multitude of soil organisms can thrive, including great fat vigorous earth worms! You see them, you know your soil is well aerated, doing great!
Mulching is double good on hillsides. Make your rock lined water-slowing ’S’ terrace walk ways snaking along down the hillside, cover your berms well and deeply to prevent erosion and to hold moisture when there are drying winds. Plant fruit trees, your veggies under them, on the uphill side of your berms.
If you mulch, make it count! Mulch with an organic degradable mulch. Chop and drop disease free plants to compost in place, spread dry leaves. Spread very well aged manures. When you water, it’s like compost or manure tea to the ground underneath. Lay out some seed free straw – some feed stores will let you sweep it up for free! If you don’t like the look of that, cover it with some pretty purchased mulch you like, maybe redwood fiber.
Build soil right where you need it. Tuck green kitchen waste out of sight under your mulch. Sprinkle with a little soil if you have some to spare, that inoculates your pile with soil organisms; compost tea will add some more! Throw on some red wriggler surface feeder worms. Grow yarrow nearby so you can conveniently add a few sprigs to your pile to speed decomposition. It will compost quickly, no smells, feeding your soil excellently! If you keep doing it one place, a nice raised bed will be built there with little effort! Do it where you could use a berm for rainwater capture.
You don’t have to wait to plant! Pull back a planting space, add compost you have on hand or purchased, maybe mix in a little aged manure, worm castings, plant specific amendments. Sprinkle some mycorrhizal fungi on your transplant’s roots, and plant! Yes!
A caution: The debris pile of composting in place may be habitat for overwintering insect pests, so put it safely away from plants that have had or might suffer infestations. To break a pest’s growing cycle, put no piles at all where there have been pests before.
*Mulch is when you can see distinct pieces of the original materials. Finished compost is when there are no distinct pieces left, the material is black and fluffy and smells good.
Mulch is magic when done right!
Happy Summer Solstice!
Next week, Keeping Your Summer Garden Happy, Foliar Plant Care!
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Posted in Baking Soda, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Fertilizer - Sidedressing, Foliar Feeding, Lettuce, Mildew, Nonfat Powdered Milk, Peas, Raised Beds, Seeds, Snails & Slugs, Strawberries, Watering, tagged after, air, anticipate, arm-chair, baking, bed, before, book, broccoli, cauliflower, circulation, clean, close, compost, container, crunchy, Day, disease, drainage, drench, dry, during, environment, erode, fast, fertilize, foliage, garden, ground, growth, harvest, lettuce, magazine, manure, mature, micro, mildew, milk, mix, mud, mulch, nonfat, overhead, Peas, Plant, potting, powdered, prevention, prune, quick, rain, rainwater, rainy, raise, resistant, secure, seed, shovel, slug, sluggo, snail, soda, Soil, soilless, space, spatter, splash, stake, strawberries, tall, thin, tie, tips, topple, trellis, warm, water, web, weight, wind, worm on December 18, 2010 |
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- Rainy Day Harvesting!
Fertilize before a rain so the fertilizer will soak in.
Take the cover off your compost to let it get wet.
Tie or stake plants that may topple from wind or weight.
Set up to harvest rainwater for later use!
Make raised beds, mounds, to help with drainage issues.
Mulch to keep soil from splashing up on your plants, keeping your harvest clean, holding water in place to soak in, and keep soil from eroding.
Make ‘permanent’ pathways with boards, stepping stones, straw bedding, so you won’t be compacting your planting area soil when it is wet or dry!
Plant for air circulation so foliage dries quickly. Plants too closely spaced, make a warmer micro environment, tend to get mildew easier.
Choose mildew resistant plants!
Drench your young plants with a mix of a heaping tablespoon of baking soda, a 1/4 cup of nonfat (so it won’t rot and stink) powdered milk in a large watering can of water for mildew prevention and abatement. It works for certain other diseases as well!
Water less frequently and at ground level, not overhead.
During a rainy period….
If you didn’t before, get out there in your rain gear and add some manure or fertilizer! Great excuse to play in the rain!
Check frequently to see how your plants are doing. Secure any tall plants, trellises that need it.
If a plant is too low and in standing water, raise it. Put your shovel deep under it, put some filler soil underneath the shovel!
Add more mulch if it has shifted or wasn’t quite deep enough to keep mud spatter from your plants.
Be sure your wormbox worms are not doing the backstroke!
Rebuild any drainage channel that has weakened, clear if clogged.
Make sure all your rain harvest system is working well. Kudos to you for harvesting!
Practice arm-chair gardening! Read garden books, magazines, browse web sites, buy some seeds from mail-order catalogs, design your new garden layout!
Get some seeds, soilless potting mix, gather containers with, or make, drainage holes. Start some seeds!
If the rain is prolonged, uh, do an aphid, snail and slug check as frequently as you can. Sluggo works on snails and slugs even when it is wet. Hard to believe, but, yes, it does.
If the rain is prolonged, do harvest your fresh and crunchy produce! Lettuces will flourish! Check on fast maturing broccoli and cauliflower heads to cut at peak maturity! Gather your luscious strawberries. Keep your peas picked to keep them coming!
After the rain! YES!
Do some thinning for air circulation as makes sense. Often there is a growth spurt, and you can see where thinning is needed.
Repair areas where soil has washed away exposing roots. Put some mulch on.
It’s often warmer after a rain, and it is the warmth that mildew loves! Drench mildew susceptible plants with your mildew mix immediately, early in the day so your plants can dry. If you prune mildewed areas off, remove those prunings, wash your hands and pruners before you go on to other plants.
Do what you do about snails and slugs. Keep checking for aphids – blast them away with water or remove infested leaves.
There is often more gopher activity after rain has softened the soil, so be ready!
In later days, after the rain, harvest first, water second! That’s the rule to keep from spreading diseases spread by moisture.
Enjoy the superlative rapid growth of your very happy plants!
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