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Old July 5, 2017   #46
svalli
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Vaasa, Finland, latitude N 63°
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I use the black plastic, because finding enough good organic mulch without weed seeds is difficult. Straw would be ideal, but most farmers bale it to the huge round bales, so one would need a tractor to move them. Some places sell the small square bales to home gardeners, but those are quite expensive.

I sowed some sunflowers this year and if they grow enough tall, I'm planning to chop them to mulch with the wood chipper. Fiber hemp would have been good cover crop and produced tall stems, but I did not dare to plant it, because some undesired visitors have gone to do their own harvesting to the fields where fiber or oil hemp is grown.

The plastic works well to keep the moisture in soil and warm up the soil during spring (too much heat is not a problem here), but it is not enough for winter protection for fall planting. I tried fall plantings with just the plastic on top and it worked when we got thick layer of snow before temperature drops to below -10C, but winters have been very unpredictable with the temperature and snow cover, so thick mulch for the winter is needed.

Sari
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