It’s been so hot and dry! It early in the year to have this heat here. I don’t make to to my community garden more than once a week or so and the soil is just dust now.
To conserve water I used black plastic and chopped hay today. I laid down the black plastic and planted 18 tomatoes in it. Then I spread chopped hay around all the other plants. Finally I gave everything a good watering.
I used non-permeable plastic, which I don’t like as much as the permeable weed covers. But the plastic is cheap (it’s been sitting in my shed for a while…), it stops the weeds, reduces water evaporation, and reduces pathogen splashing from soil to plant leaves. It can also keep the soil warmer, but I think it’s warm enough here so I added a thin layer of chopped hay on top. I would have liked drip lines under neath the plastic but I don’t have them. I will be sure the plants get water in the holes so it can seep into the soil.
I really like the new chopped straw options on sale at nurseries now. The straw is usually heat-treated to kill weed seeds, shredded, and baled in plastic. They are an environmentally friendly option for salt marsh hay. Except for the high price ($20 a bale!) they are great. I used it as a weed block on my mother’s garden paths, and as a moisture and weed block in my home and community garden beds. It looks really nice and is a great option for a small garden. (For Aurelia’s Garden, 1/4 acres, we are about to purchase 20 bales of straw for mulch and it surely wont be the $20 a bale type.)
The plants in my community garden are growing surprisingly well this year I think. Last year the flea beetles had killed a lot of plants by now, especially eggplants. Earlier this year, they were in the cabbage and broccoli , but seem to have gone away a few weeks ago. The new leaves on all the plants look pretty go0d.