This was my first year trying to use straw mulch in our garden. So far it has been a disaster.
I haven’t even technically been using it as mulch yet, I just put down a small amount to help with my soil crusting. It didn’t seem to help the soil crust much at all. And in addition to that it has just been a huge pain in the neck.
We get windy days here in the mountains. Depending on the season we can get quite a few, or not many at all, and the severity varies as well. Over the last few weeks we have had about 2 very severely windy days and then a couple that were more “breezy.” What happens to straw mulch on windy days? It ends up everywhere EXCEPT in the garden beds. And what is left in the beds is swirled into a big pile.
So we have been raking it up and re-spreading it on the garden beds over and over again. Not fun. Finally this morning I decided I am done with this. It doesn’t seem to be helping the crust anyway, so we removed it all and put it in the chicken pens. The chickens were delighted with the new plan.
I will probably try mulching again later in the summer to help keep plants cool. Hopefully with a bunch of growing plants around it wont be able to blow around as much. Plus we get less wind in summer. I know tons of people use straw mulch and swear by its necessity in their garden, but whether or not it is useful in our garden (and our location and our climate) here is yet to be determined.
Today we will be doing another large planting. The last big one of the season. We will be putting in hundreds of bush beans (we are doing yellow, purple, and green this year), another round of lettuce and spinach for our succession planting, cilantro, and mint. This is a week earlier than I normally put these things out, but the weather is supposed to be very warm this week, and with our short season an extra week is very helpful. Next weekend the cucumber, marigold, and nasturtium seedlings will go out (after I harden them this week). I use marigolds and nasturtiums for pest control in the garden. And if we finish the last row of terracing and garden beds then I will plant the rest of the beans next week as well. That will be the end of the planting season for us, except a few more weeks of succession planting the lettuce and spinach. Hard for me to believe we are almost done with planting! Now I need to get our trellises figured out. We have a plan to try something new this year, I’ll let you know how it goes.