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Mulching cool weather crops
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Post Mulching cool weather crops 
Hi Everyone!

I'm pretty new to gardening (only 4 years in), and last year I tried my first salad garden. Unfortunately it didn't go too well. Although I did have some success with my radishes and green onions, few of the other things made it past the initial sprouting...for those that even got that far!!! Crying or Very sad

After doing some reading I think I suffered from two main problems. First, unlike those crops that I've grown successfully in the past, most of my salad garden crops recommended direct seeding (as opposed to transplants). Second, also unlike the majority of my prior plantings, many of the salad crops were considered "cool weather". I'm trying to figure out how to address this problems, but there seems to be so much information out there that I really need some help sorting it out!!!

With regard to the seeding issue, I have read about using collars as a possible solution. I've also learned that, contrary to what it says on the seed packet, simply putting some root veggies in an inch of dirt is not enough...apparently I need to dig down to loosen up some dirt. Can anyone comment on these potential solutions or offer others? Additionally, perhaps some can clear up whether I should be mulching over where I have planted seeds or simply around the area?

With regard to the hot weather issue, I have read that the black fabric that I put down to help my other veggies (such as tomatoes, squashes and cucumbers) grow, might actually be trapping in too much heat to allow crops like broccoli, lettuce and carrots to take off. Should I simply use my wood chip mulch (which I usually put on top of the fabric mid-summer) down near these cooler crops, or is there a preferable mulching alternative? Is there anything I can do to keep the soil temp cool for these poor plants?

I'm so sorry to have so many questions! Any help that anyone can provide would be much appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

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Post Gardening Variables 
It all starts with the soil.
If your soil is compact clay, then yes you need to dig down a bit to loosen up as roots need air. As long as you are digging, add compost. Compost cures a lot of things that can be wrong in the soil including adding nutrients.

Next: Why do seed germinate? They germinate because nature tells them to. There is a combination of moisture, soil coverage (for some) and soil temperature. If you wet down cool soil, your seeds might rot before it is warm enough to trigger germination.

Finally mulch. black plastic and clear plastic can heat up the soil too much in summer. You can add them in spring to try to get an early start, but they are not miracles. Once seeds germinate and are above the soil, then you can put a mulch around them to retain moisture, regulate soil temps. Wood chips are not bad, but not the best. If left in the soil, they take a long time to break down and can rob the soil of nutrients while breaking down. If you cover with wood chips and remove at the end of the season that is better than plowing lots of wood chips into the soil.

Colars on plants depends on the plant. I have seen them used for different purposes. What are you trying to do with the colar?

Hope this gives you a good place to start.
Good books can be find on our resource page. Also look for veg gardening books that are tailored to your area (not always available, but VERY valuable if they are)

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White on black mulch provides a cooler soil temperature and is commonly used for establishing such crops as fall tomatoes or cole (cabbage, broccoli, etc.) crops under hot summer conditions. will help also with lettuce and beets radish and other cool loving plants (in MN. started peas in jun doing great so far) got in garden later then I wanted. If you want to see pic of it look in
Forum...Vegetable Pictures and videos... Large square foot garden last year09
how it works it keeps the roots cool so will not bolt.
Hope this helps.

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