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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My permanent tomato patch

I was working today, busy at my desk, when it hit me like a bolt from the cloudless sky. I have been VERY interested in permaculture lately. I believe it to be a BIG part of the solution to the beast system, and the coming collapse. It is obviously a preppers solution to a vast number of issues. After all commonality of disaster is what we prep for, covering a LOT of different problems and crisises that usually require a lot of similar responses. Okay, on to the BIG idea.

I found a video on worm towers on youtube last night. A worm tower is basically a PVC pipe about 12 inches across, and several feet long. On one end you drill 1/4 inch holes, all over the place up to the 2/5ths mark or so. Then you bury it in the garden to the half way mark. You fill it to the soil line with cow manure, top with bedding material (straw, shredded newspaper, leaves, etc.), and then add worms. Red wrigglers to be exact. You then add organic material for feed, (nothing dairy or meat) and cover with screen and rubber band, so no flies can get in. Top off with a bucket or container so rain stays out. Water once a week with a soup can full of water to keep the worms moist. Dry worms are not nice. Feed all your weeds, table scraps of salad, or newspapers. See the video.

Okay, the thing is, build your bed around this tower. Dig up an area about 10 feet across. Next, plant jerusalem artichokes, not an artichoke, but a cousin of sunflowers, that produces a tuber, similar to water chestnuts in texture, but that can be substituted for potatoes if necessary. They also make a great livestock feed. Plant them in a c shape with the open section facing south. Plant them double rowed, spaced by 6-8 inches, and plant both rows in the c shape. This is important, because the jerusalem artichokes will block weeds and prevent wind damage to the tomatoes. Next lay a layer of cardboard, or heavy newspaper, mulitple sections worth, thickness is key to this to the center portion. Place the worm tower in the middle of the space. Cover the entire area with hevy mulch, adding compost as you work the soil. Remember this is a permanent patch. If you have it, and can add it, tomatoes need calcium to prevent problems, so add eggshells, or crushed up oyster shell. You don't need much shell. Next, pick a determinate type of tomatoe. Like Rutgers, heirloom not hybrid of course!! Space accordingly. The reason for the determinate by the way, is the determinate grow and the produce side shoots and clusters of fruit. The indeterminate make long vines and bunches of fruit. With indeterminate, you pick off the suckers and side shoots. With determinates you don't, or you won't get many tomatoes. I suppose you could plant indeterminate, but you would have to allow for support. Anywho, the tomatoes get the protection on the artichokes, and the weed barrier from them. At either end of the open section, at the end of the Jerusalem artichokes, you plant basil. Basil is a companion plant to tomatoes. It uses what tomatoes give off, and tomatoes do the same with basil. The are symbiotic like that. A few nice flat stones in the entrance way to block any weeds invading like huns through the front door, and heat retention. After that, you let things work. At the end of the season, pull the tomatoe up and lay them back down to compost in the space. Tomatoes are vain, in that they like compost of other tomato plants. use that to your advantage, and ease of working. Lay them down, and where you picked the tomatoe plant up, plant an entire red ripe tomato. Apply a nice mulch over the whole thing, and you are finished until spring. Once the weather warms nicely, the artichokes will shoot up and provide a nice non windy nursery for the new baby tomatoes to grow in. Should be a fairly easy setup once things are up and running.

Obviously I have never done this, and I already have 43 tomatoes planted. BUT...this is my weekend project. I figure this might be doable for other plants as well. Cucumbers, watermelon, cantalope, etc. Those I would rotate on an annual basis, but tomatoes should be fine. You could add other plants to the outside border of the jerusalem artichoke, like flowers to beautify, or parsley, or other herbs. Maybe other perenials. I dunno. Good gardening. Make this your idea. And feel free to leave comments and feedback. I cannot wait to get my hands dirty with this one.

1 comment:

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