I’ve wanted to use straw as a mulch, to conserve moisture and prevent weeds, but last year I couldn’t find it at any of the local farm supply shops. Instead I used cedar mulch. This year I found straw at Thrashers in Belleville. They sold straw in bales or bags. I bought two bags ($5 each). It was very easy to lay down and the garden looks great.
My other change was to use string instead of stakes to support the tomato plants. The San Marzano are an indeterminate variety, which grow as vines, so they need to be supported. I’ve always used bamboo poles for this purpose, but the bamboo has become a little old and I wanted something simpler. I hammered T-bars at the ends of the rows and stretched a steel 10 gauge wire between the T-bars. I tie a string to the base of each plant stem and to the wire. As the plant grows I wind the string around the stem. This makes a solid but flexible support that I can detach and re-attach very easily as the plant grows. It is also cheap, which is always good.