More Planting and Mulching

I think I am in the home stretch for planting the summer garden. Over the weekend I put up a trellis and planted pole beans. Then yesterday I prepped the bed for sweet potatoes and made a ridge of soil about 40 feet long to plant them in. The loose soil makes it easy for the roots to grow and expand, and I’ve been planting them this way for many years now. I set them about 16 inches apart in the row, and back in 2013 I wrote about the whole process and exactly how I plant them.

sweet potatoes planted in a ridge

sweet potatoes planted in a ridge

Today I planted the slips I started myself from last year’s roots, Purple and Bonita. I started my slips in water, then potted them up in soil a few weeks before I set them out. I’m still waiting on the ones I ordered from Sand Hill Preservation Society, but the bed is ready and there’s still plenty of time to get them planted. We have a long growing season here, and most of the sweet potato cultivars I grow only take a little over three months to make sizable roots. I am trialing several varieties for the first time, including Garnet, Red Japanese, Korean Purple, and Golden Sweet. The Red Japanese is a white fleshed sweet potato I have buying at a local Chinese grocery, and the flavor is outstanding. I am hoping I can grow some as tasty as the ones I have bought. The ones I ordered will be shipped bare root and I will get them directly in the ground ASAP after they are delivered.

sweet potato slip after planting

sweet potato slip after planting

Now that I have gotten most everything planted, I began work on mulching. I spread newspaper around the tomatoes as I planted them. The remesh cages hold the newspaper in place, since I use the wires at the bottom of the cages to ‘spear’ the paper and hold it until I can get it covered with straw.

tomatoes after mulching

tomatoes after mulching

I put the straw both outside and inside the cages to keep down weeds and conserve moisture. It also helps to keep the soil cool, which is not a bad thing given our summer heat. The high temperatures have already been near 90°F the last few days, which is unusual for early June but very typical here for July and August. Another plus is it keeps soil from splashing up on the foliage, which can spread diseases like septoria leaf spot. I believe that is Sun Sugar in the below photo, a golden yellow cherry hybrid that has larger fruit than Sun Gold.

mulching inside of tomato cages

mulching inside of tomato cages

I also hilled soil up around the potatoes yesterday. I planted the potatoes back in early April, eight plants each of Red Lasoda, Kennebec and German Butterball. I side-dressed with fertilizer and hilled them once already, and I may likely hill them again for weed control if necessary.

potatoes after hilling

potatoes after hilling

I began mulching around the squash plants today before I got rained out. I use the same newspaper covered with straw treatment I used on the tomatoes. I plan to get back out there tomorrow, weather permitting, and continue mulching the rest of the main garden.

mulched squash

mulched squash

Meanwhile, my wife has been busy in the asparagus patch. We are done harvesting for the year, and she has been on a mission to weed the beds and mulch. She used shredded newspaper in the rows where the asparagus is growing, and cardboard covered with straw in the walkways between the rows. I fertilized the asparagus back in April with a balanced blend, and I will apply a little more of a higher nitrogen fertilizer soon. You can see in the below photo she has the beds looking great!

asparagus beds after mulching

asparagus beds after mulching

I hope you have enjoyed this update on the garden progress here at Happy Acres.

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14 Responses to More Planting and Mulching

  1. Phuong says:

    Your plants are looking good. The tomatoes you just planted out already have blooms. I think a lot of us had a late start this year, rain is usually the culprit around here. You must have been quite busy lately, I know you had lots of peppers to plant.
    Phuong recently posted…Around the Garden and Tomatoes in BloomMy Profile

  2. Michelle says:

    You have made a lot of progress on the summer garden. It’s hard to believe that it’s June already. Summer veggies are coming soon! Do you have problems with pests in the mulch? The sow bugs have a field day when I use a thick mulch like you put around your plants.
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – May 30, 2016My Profile

    • Dave says:

      The sow bugs are a big problem in the greenhouse, but not so much in the main garden. The mulch does give squash bugs a home, but without the mulch the weeds quickly take over. So if I had to choose between weeds or squash bugs, I’d rather deal with the squash bugs.

      • Michelle says:

        I’m with you when it comes to weeding, I have come to detest that chore. Fortunately, I really only have to deal with weeds in the winter and spring, once it stops raining and I’ve finished pulling and whacking then I’m pretty much done with them until the rain returns. And the squash bugs don’t seem to have found me either!
        Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – May 30, 2016My Profile

  3. Margaret says:

    Your garden is looking great – I’m in the home stretch as well although I likely have a few more things on the list that you do, including putting the fencing back up in the area where the spruce tree was cut down. I’ll be doing that today as I already saw a bunny in the middle of my neighbours front yard.

    And I had the same question as Michelle, especially when it comes to slugs. I once sowed some carrots beside the mulched tomatoes and I was certain that the mulch gave the slugs a nice, comfy home from which to gobble up all of my carrot seedlings.
    Margaret recently posted…Harvest Monday – May 30, 2016My Profile

    • Dave says:

      It is probable that my mulch favors the slugs, but I have fewer of them in the main garden than I do the kitchen garden and greenhouse beds. Also, the slugs don’t seem to bother most of the veggies I grow in the main garden area. The cabbages and kohlrabi are an exception, but I would rather deal with them than the weeds. I’m not sure why weeds are such an issue in the main garden, but they are. And the older I get, the more I detest weeding! I’d rather spend my time on mulching, which also adds quite a bit of organic matter to the garden. I’m currently spending $7/bale on straw, so it’s not a free solution, but it works.

  4. David Velten says:

    The garden is looking great. I have my work cut out for me this week since we just got back from week long trip for my niece’s wedding. I’m with you on the mulch, weeds are worse than the pests they harbor. Plus for me, they reduce the amount of watering I have to do.
    David Velten recently posted…Garden Update – End of May 2016My Profile

  5. Mark Willis says:

    I would like to be able to try the tomato cage technique. It is not common here in the UK. The trouble is, the cages would have to be very small to fit in / round my 35cm-square containers. Oh, and I love the Asparagus patch! I see now how you manage to get 30 pounds + each year.

  6. Interesting how you mulch with straw – do you end up with lots of weeds?
    Susan Garrett recently posted…Not up to standardMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      No, not many weeds. It is wheat straw, so I do get the occasional wheat plant, but they are easy to pull up.

  7. Kaman Lai says:

    Hi Dave,
    I am one of your subscribers and a newbie in vegetable gardening.I am located in Staten Island New York City which is Zone 6 B .I tried googling to find out if seeded types of cucumbers that require pollination can be grown alongside seedless parthenocarpic gynoecious varieties in the field but so far can’t seem to get any results. I looked at your variety lists for 3 consecutive years and notice that every year you grow several different varieties of cucumbers, summer and winter squashes. That is what I am trying my hands on. I don’t have a greenhouse. I am wondering if you can enlighten me on whether I can grow seeded and seedless cucumbers side by side on a trellis. And can bush and vining winter squashes grown in the same area? I plan to just let the vining winter squashes ramble alongside the bush varieties. Miraculously even though I am inexperienced I successfully started my seedlings on Gold Nugget, Butterscotch, Honey Bear Acorn, and Sunshine Kabocha .I also have seedlings on Tasty Jade, Isnik, Suyo Long, Diva, a Marketmore. I also managed to start my seedlings on tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants some of which are based on the varieties I read from your site and the blogs you follow. Thank you for your time
    Sincerely, Kaman

    • Dave says:

      Hi Kaman, yes I have grown seeded and seedless cucumbers side by side. Seedless varieties may develop seeds if pollinated, but for me that isn’t a problem. I’ve never really noticed any difference in the quantity or quality of the seedless cucumbers.

      As for bush and vining squashes, I think your idea to let the vining ones grow around the bush ones is a good one. You should be able to guide the vines where you want them to go. It sounds like you are off to a good start with your seedlings. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have them, and I wish you the best of luck with your garden!

  8. Kaman Lai says:

    Thank you very much Dave. I really appreciate your kindness and help.
    Sincerely, Kaman

  9. Jamie H says:

    Those blueberries! Mine don’t have a touch of color on them. Enjoy!!!
    Jamie H recently posted…The First Harvest Of The YearMy Profile

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