Answer: There are no hard and fast rules to gardening - you need to consider all the factors related to your situation. For instance, if the slope of the land runs east to west, it's not a good idea to plant your rows in that direction. It's better to have your rows run across a grade rather than down the grade to prevent water erosion of the soil. If your plot is on level ground, with little or no objects to cast shade, you can optimize the light that reaches your plants by planting rows/beds east to west, with the tallest crops on the north side of the plot. But other factors (soil fertility and texture, moisture supply and weather, etc.) that will have more of an effect on crop yields than the direction of the planting rows.
Black plastic is suggested for crops that like warm soil (melons, squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.). It's not a good idea to use it where summers are extremely hot and sunny, or the roots may not survive. It's best used to warm up the soil in early spring to get an early start on the season.
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