rainbowgardener wrote:Everything is looking good, happy and healthy!
Do you think about mulching? Most of your plants are big enough you could be mulching all around them. It helps keep nutrients and moisture in the soil and then the mulch breaks down to feed the soil.
Thanks! I mulch my paths because they are non-growing areas, or if I let something grow there (like the california poppies you can see in some of the pics, or I plant a larger shrub) the mulch doesn't interfere. I don't mulch in my beds for several reasons, many of which I'm sure some of you will disagree with, especially if you like to mulch.
1) Moisture. Most soil moisture is lost through transpiration from the plants, not sun hitting the surface of the soil. A bed with a full leaf canopy will lose a lot of soil moisture because there's a larger leaf surface area being hit by the sun, even though very little light hits the soil. Mulching around small plants may hold a little bit of moisture in the top 1-2", but that's about it. A plant with a deep root system and lots of leaf surface to cool will be sucking moisture from way deep down and that top 1-2" won't matter much. Bottom line: you gotta water your veggies whether you mulch or not.
2) I like to limit my "unknowns" I'm adding to my soil, so letting it break down isn't ideal. For example, is the hay/straw mulch I'm using been sprayed with something? Is it super high in certain nutrients because of the soil it was grown on that could throw my soil balance out of whack? Impossible to say.
3) Mulching would disrupt my ability to do things that help my veggies grow, like weed with a sharp hoe or side-dress fertilizer.
4) I grow living cover crops when I want to cover the soil to prevent leaching, like in rainy winter months when a bed is empty.
5) Where I live, I need the soil to warm up fast and stay warm - which is difficult. Nights are cool even in the middle of summer. If I want to grow certain plants (melons, for example), I need to use black sheets to try and warm the soil around the plants. Mulching is often prescribed to help keep soil cool, which I think it probably does help with, so that's the opposite of what I want.
I see a lot of advice given to people to mulch, and I wouldn't disparage that advice - everyone does things differently and maybe it works for you! For me, my opinion is that it is not helpful inside the veggie bed (although I will agree that it could be helpful around say, tomatoes to prevent soil-borne fungus like blight).