I'm an inexperienced gardener and totally new at growing veggies - using Howard's "Texas Gardening the Natural Way" as my primer. I planted some carrots, spinach & lettuce seeds directly in my new vegetable bed last week & covered the soil with burlap. My seedlings emerged today (yea!) so I removed the burlap cover. When can I mulch the bed? It seems like the seedlings would be smothered by mulch now, but I don't want pests to get a foothold. I also want to protect it from the neighbor's cat who seemed to think I was digging her a new litter box instead of a veggie bed! The burlap was an effective cat deterrent - should I put it back on at night until I can mulch, or will it smother the seedlings?
Don't cover them back at night, you'll end up breaking them. Cats can be a problem though, you may want to construct some chickenwire around them or, until they get bigger, you can set some tomato cages over them. That way the cats can't get to the fragile seedlings. Take the cages off when they're big enough to withstand the cats.
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 5:48 pm Posts: 806 Location: Weatherford,TX
For the cat problem you might try lava sand or lava gravel in or around the areas you want to keep them out. This might not work on all cats but most of them hate the sharp feel of the lava on their paws. The lava sand is a great soil amendment also.
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If you mulch now, you will slow soil warming. Better to let the seedlings get larger, the soil to get a bit warmer. Also, I have found that early mulch encourages rolypolys, which will eat tender seedlings. My beans were wiped out by them last spring.
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