Sunday, June 1, 2008

Tilling, Tomatoes and Driplines

We finally got some sunny and warm weather, and some real rain, over the last four days. I took advantage of it to get some more gardening done.

First on the list: get the new beds made! I pulled off the plastic to find that the lawn had been mostly killed off, so armed with string, flour and the tiller, I attacked the patch and created five new beds. Flour? Yes. After measuring off the spaces for paths and garden beds, making them straight with string attached between two sticks, I mark the ground using flour. It's cheap, it's available, and it's biodigradable. Once my flour lines are on the ground, I can wind up the string and till away, no worries about string getting wrapped around the tiller tines, or my beds being crooked! So, I now have two more long beds and three short beds running perpendicular to the long beds (had to work around an apple tree, so these three beds have a different alignment).

After tilling, I got out my super duper square-ended spade (from Lee Valley Tools - the best garden purchase I've made to date) and cut the edges of the beds. I have found that the tiller really doesn't do much but maybe stir up the top inch or two of the lawn. A good shovel and a broadfork really prove to be the best for making the beds, in my opinion. This time, though, I opted not to use the broadfork - I'm trying multiple techniques this year. The old beds were all broadforked when made and again this year. The older new beds were broadforked this spring. Then there are the "Weedless Gardening" beds where the lawn was mowed, newspaper put down and manure and mulch piled on top. And finally, these last five beds: the soil from the edging piled on top of the "tilled" center bit, which, as stated above, really isn't tilled deeply. We shall see if any of these beds prove to be better than the others!

So, the lawn was tilled, the edges dug out and plopped on top of the "tilled" center, the clumps were broken up and raked into slightly mounded beds. About an inch of manure was spread on top and the whole thing sat for a couple days, resting.

The next chore: completing the drip irrigation system. My new lines and clips arrived, so in the heat and humidity of Friday my mom and I installed dripper lines. I had been using 12" drippers, but the new lines are 6" (this is the spacing between the drip holes). This is what Dripworks recommends for veg gardens (12" for flower beds), and I am thinking now that they are right. Still, we use what we have and now all the beds are equipped with water for the summer. I have the system set on a timer that has four settings per day, seven days a week. I have set it for 15 minutes of dripping each time. We'll see how that goes. Too much? Too little? We'll have to wait and see. Sure beats standing out there with the garden hose for over an hour every night after work!

Finally, the tomatoes. I have TONS of tomato plants. I was over ambitious this winter ordering seeds: they all sounded so interesting! As a result, I ended up with about 18 varieties of tomatoes (Paul Robeson, Black Prince, Rose, Siletz, Rose di Berne, Roma Paste, Grandma Mary Paste, Bellstar Paste, Blue Beech Paste, Dad's Sunset, German Lunchbox, Principe Borghese, Brandywine, Amish Paste, Cherokee Purple, and I can't recall the others). And when you plant from seed inside in the winter, you plant extra seeds because they might not all germinate, and those that do may not all survive. Long story short: I ended up with 150+ tomato plants! I have filled the two new long beds and one short bed with tomatoes! And I still have plants left over! If you are going to be in Newcomb anytime soon, and you want tomato plants, come see me!!!

All that remains now to be planted: beans, corn, squash, pumpkins, celery, herbs and companion plants, sunflowers. Space remaining: three long beds, two short beds, and the two "weedless gardening" beds.

Will it be enough?!?!? Stay tuned...

No comments: