One of the things we noticed from previous years' experience and in the gardening publications scoured over during the cooler weather is that mulching will make our lives so much easier. Last summer we mulched right around the tomato plants with some straw. That was a god-send for preventing weeds and it improved the soil as well. So, this year we decided to take things a step farther.
We hit on the bright idea of placing a layer of newspaper around the plant to prevent even the most stubborn weeds and to act as a layer of mulch to hold in moisture. (We have done this before when planting shrubs.) So, the other morning I thought I'd go out and be the whiz and get that done really quickly before the sun got too high and the temperature did too. Foolish me. At first I thought that conditions were ideal. There was a gentle breeze which was keeping things a little cooler. However, that also posed havoc with laying the newspaper layer. Here I was trying to hold the hose nozzle and 4 pages of newspaper splayed out to surround the plant while I shook straw to form a loose covering over the newspaper. I needed at least two or three more arms and hands. Finally I hit upon a system of spreading the newspaper and holding the edges with my toes. Then, lightly misting the newspaper and following up with a layer of straw before I gently showered the entire pile with a deep watering. Have you ever heard of the old saying about feeling like a one-armed wallpaper hanger? All this and at eight o'clock in the morning the temperature was already in the high eighty degree marks.
Half-way done and feeling pretty satisfied with my work!
After using up one large bale of straw and almost two hours of my time, I stood back to admire my work. What a feeling of satisfaction there is to hard work! It is especially rewarding when one considers that there will be future and long-term impact. I stood there momentarily and felt such satisfaction that there would be less watering required because the mulch would hold in the moisture so much more effectively. I also thought about how there would be less demand for weed pulling or chopping because they pesky things would be smothered and prevented more effectively. I also thought about how nice it would be to have more time to spend with my sweet husband - both that afternoon and subsequent ones - because we would have more leisure time. Then, I turned and began gathering up my materials to return them all to the barn via the wheel barrow transporter, that satisfaction making my sweaty tiredness seem so worthwhile even though I only got half of the tomatoes we had planted mulched. After that I turned back for one final glance and figurative pat on the back and realized I still had a long way to go!
Seems like a L-O-N-G way and lots more sweaty work when viewed from the end of the row!