Get Lost, Frost!
It has been a long winter, but it seems like spring has officially sprung! No vegetables have been planted yet because there have been a few frosty nights in these last few weeks of April. This time of year is difficult to judge when to plant because the temperature can fluctuate so drastically from day to day and week to week. We have been keeping our seedlings warm in the greenhouse, but we are really itching to get them into the ground as soon as possible.
However, our fruit trees are in full bloom, and these blossoms are breathtakingly beautiful! Our little honeybee friends have also been enjoying the gorgeous flowers on these apple and peach trees! Once these little fruits start forming on the trees, we will wrap them in some bird netting to make sure the birds and squirrels don’t get the harvest before the fruits fully develop.
Hay is for More than Just Horses
In the meantime we have been keeping ourselves busy with prepping garden beds. Keeping the soil moist is a top priority, especially the closer we get to the summer heat. Mulching the soil can help retain moisture which in turn helps the plants grow healthier and more prolific. We were able to get hay for free from someone who was trying to get rid of more than 16 bales that had been sitting in her barn aging for several years.
Get the Most with Mulch
Mulching garden beds and plots is so important to the health of the plants. While it is not absolutely necessary to use mulch, it is highly advised because of its ability to control soil temperature and moisture. Some gardeners use plastic sheets to act as mulch, while other people use wood chips or hay/straw. When using wood chip mulch it is vitally important to make sure that the wood hasn’t been treated, because those chemicals can seep into the soil and damage the plants. We are using hay as our medium for mulch because it is nutritious as it breaks down, easy to work with, and, the best part – it was free!
Benefits of Mulching:
- Inhibits weed germination and growth. (Weeds are not only unsightly, but they also steal resources from desirable garden plants!)
- Holds in soil moisture, protecting your plants from drying out quickly
- Moderates soil-temperature fluctuations (This benefit is especially valuable during that turbulent-weather period in spring when you don’t want your plants to be stressed.)
- In cold-winter areas, protects plant roots from winter cold and helps prevent frost-heaving, in which plants are literally pushed out of the ground by the natural expansion and contraction of the soil as it cools off and heats up
- In hot-summer areas, helps keep plant roots cooler
- Depending on what you use, adds a bit of welcome nutrition to your garden as it breaks down
Ready to Plant
Our first and second round of seedlings planted in the first 1-3 months of this year are looking extremely healthy and are ready to put in the ground when the weather finally breaks for the season. At night, we cover the plants with a plastic tent to keep them warm. Although we have had to carry them back inside a few nights this past week when there was a frost warning. We are hoping that by next week, the first week of May, the danger of frost will have passed for the season, and we can get these babies into the soil. The anticipation is reaching an apex and we are all too ready to get the season into full swing!