Because rotting is good!

Last year, I put all my plants into the soil too early, based on a soil temperature reading from the top of a squash mound which was (duh) warmer than the soil where I enter up actually planting stuff. So they all failed to thrive. And in the frantic (and ultimately successful) quest to save them, one thing I did was put black plastic squares around the stems of the plants. (I cut the squares out of black plastic mulch, then cut a slit in the square, then slipped the slit along the stem, and laid the patch plat on the soil.) My idea was to warm the soil so the plants would be happier.

Well, my plan wasn’t so good. For one thing, have you ever seen a black plastic greenhouse? No? What happens is that the black plastic absorbs all the heat itself, and didn’t pass any through the air gap beneath it to the soil. I should have used transparent plastic instead, which would pass the light through, and concentrated it, like a lens, on the soil.

And for another, at the end of the year, I collected all the black plastic bits that I could, because who wants a garden with petroleum products in it? But it looks like I missed one.

Now, on the bright side, one good thing about the black plastic is that it prevented opportunistic weeds from taking root round the stems of the plants. (Everywhere else is covered with sheet mulch.) So this year, I’m going to put a biodegradable mulch round the stems — and plant when the soil temperature is 65° and not 60°. That mulch will rot, as the string is on its way to doing.