Starting A Vegetable Garden
Grow tried-and-true favorites or explore new vegetable varieties. Consult a zone/hardiness chart and the seed packet for planting dates and specific instructions.
Water seeds and transplants daily until established. Watch for drooping leaves in the afternoon; many vegetables transpire water and look wilted, but should be fine by morning.
It might seem like common sense to add your straw mulch right after planting your vegetable seeds. After all, you don’t want weeds to start popping up, and the seedlings would benefit from the extra water retention and nutrients from the mulch. However, it can have the opposite effect by suffocating the seeds before they have the chance to germinate. That’s because it will block out the sun. The straw will block the veggie seeds from sprouting much in the same way that it blocks weed seeds from growing — it hides the sun, making it difficult for them to get enough nutrients and energy to sprout. Instead, wait until your seedlings grow 2-3 inches tall before laying down the straw.
However, there is one exception to this rule. If you’re planting beans or peas in your veggie patch, a thin layer of straw can help protect the crop from hungry birds. In this case, the risk of suffocating is less than the risk of being eaten by wildlife. Just make sure not to overdo it. Instead, use a light hand with the mulch to allow plenty of sunlight to get through.