When planting seeds directly in the ground, I'm always careful to lightly cover seeds with a sprinkle of hay and row cover, and then later mulch with hay between rows. It's a real pain to tear slabs of hay apart and tuck them between rows without damaging fragile seedlings.
On reading the back of the beet seeds I planted last weekend, rows are to be 18-20 inches apart. I planted the rows, and then decided to try to mulch between them now. When I laid down the first slab of hay, to my delight (and let me reiterate this was a total accident) I discovered that a slab of hay is either 14 or 18 inches wide. (Hay bale slabs are rectangular.) I found that I had accidentally planted my beet rows with enough space between to allow me to lay down a slab of hay in the 14-inch orientation, allowing space for the plants to push up between the mulch.
I am never, ever going to plant seeds any width other than a slab of hay. I share this with you so it doesn't take you 33 years of gardening to figure out this simple mulching trick.
I planted three 16-foot rows of three types of beets, Detroit Golden, cylindra and Boro hybrid. Jay and I want enough for fresh eating and lots of canning. And after sampling borscht last year, I'm looking forward to making our own.
|Hay slabs are conveniently as wide as the suggested spacing for the beets.|
|As I've said before, I'm a big believer in row cover, even over the hay.|