by OCMGA Master Gardener Rich Fischer
One of the things I love about master gardeners is that we are always willing to share our experience and knowledge with other gardeners. While at the last master gardener meeting someone mentioned to me that they bought bags of shredded wheat straw from Ace Hardware on Northland Avenue to use as mulch around their vegetable garden. So being the curious gardener that I am I had to check it out. I wish I could give credit to who told me this, but alas old age has affected my memory, or maybe it was too much partying in my wayward youth.
She was so right. This shredded wheat straw is awesome. Way easier to spread around the tomato plants than any other kind of ground cover. It easily allows the water to get through and keeps down the weeds. And at the end of the gardening season no need to rake it up, just let it decompose as an organic soil amendment.
Like many vegetable growers I have tomato fungal disease carry over from year to year despite my best efforts to rotate the location. It is either early blight or Septoria leaf spot or both. The tomato plant leaves turn wilt, turn brown and die from the bottom up. But we still get enough tomatoes and the fruit is just fine. Hopefully the shredded wheat straw mulch will prevent soil splash and reduce the blight this year. I have also been cutting off and disposing the effected lower leaves at the first sign of wilt in hopes of slowing it down.
I am grateful for the information we gardeners share with one another and hope you find this gardening tip helpful.
Rich’s tomatoes before and after applying the mulch: