Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vining crops, keeping mulch in place and tomato blight/varieties

Hello Roger,

I very much appreciated your tomato blight seminar last Sat. at the Garden Expo. I am now well on my way to planning for this Summer and hope to eliminate or nearly eliminate the blight we’ve had for the past two years.

I’ve checked out your blog and printed all the handouts from your seminars – thanks – lots of great information. I am going to try the mulch technique, however our garden is rather large (we love vine fruits and vegetables) and it gets very windy in April around here. I may need to start with mulching only a few areas of the garden (where the tomatoes will go this year and where they were last year). Any suggestion on keeping the mulch in place?

Also, could you recommend a variety? I’ve gone into all three of the seed sources you recommended and although there is one disease resistant variety listed, it is not a plum and I really wonder about the taste




For vining crops, you just need about a 4 ft wide row to plant the seeds/plants in and then let the vines go out over unmulched area--and they will do just fine.  I have had squash vines planted like that go 35 to 40 feet long.  I did not have any of that area mulched, except where the seed was planted.

Highest priority is to mulch where the tomatoes will go this year!!  Second, where the tomatoes were last year--great plan.  If you can get at least 2 to 4 inches of mulch on the rest of the garden, you should be in much better shape for this growing season and start planning for fall mulch harvesting.

To keep mulch in place.  Once hay or straw is wet--it stays in place pretty good.  If you put down cardboard, make sure to have all the edges covered a good depth.  If the wind catches cardboard--look out. 

As soon as you install the mulch--WET IT!!  an hour a day for 3 to 7 days, until it is all wet.

If you have leaves, a bit trickier.  There is light weight bird/deer netting, black fine plastic netting.  You can place that over leaves to help hold them in place, while they are getting wetted.  Just weight it down with some wood, rocks or something.

You can top dress leaves with some old hay, straw or wood mulch to also help hold them in place.

I agree--hybrid disease resistant varieties usually don't have the richest flavor.  I plant heirloom tomatoes and keep a clean mulched garden and clean seed starting--and have good success.

May the Blight--not be with you!!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spot smothering and success story!!


Thanks for doing the Lasagna Garden talk.  I only wish we had heard of it a year before we ripped up 25% of our yard with a sod cutter!

I was wondering if you have done any 'spot smothering' in an existing bed?  We now have some very large mulched beds that get weedy and grassy pretty quickly.  The shredded wood mulch keeps some of it down but not all.

Wanted to let you know after we saw you talk last year, we put in a small (50sqft) lasagne garden, I think in August and were able to get several nice, large yellow squash from about 8 plants that went in
very sickly looking and perked up nicely until the frost finally killed them off.

Now we want to lasagne the rest of the yard.  NO MORE DIGGING!!

Our recipe was just cardboard, 4 bales of hay, and all the grass clippings from the back yard, wet, tarp for two weeks and plant!  It went beautifully.  When the rain pooled on the tarp, I just punched a hole or two in the middle and let it drain straight into the bed.




Music to my ears!!!--the sound of no sod cutter!!!   and smaller turf grass lawn--they have their place, but they have too much place, right now in the USA. Conserve and use that water--right on!!

 "Less work--More Produce!!"

I love laying down cardboard and knowing all the grass is dead--instead of digging out sod, WORKING SO HARD, and knowing quack grass roots are probably still there.

Sickly plants perked up--that is great to hear.   Pretty amazing to see what plants can do when given the growing environment they evolved with, huh.  Next time, with sickly summer squash plants, you may do just as well to soak seeds a few hours and plant fresh seeds.  Sickly plants, sometimes are disease infected and cannot recover.

"Spot smothering"  You have a couple of choices.  It depends on what you have growing there.  Of course, if you cover desirable plants, they will die also--except spring bulbs.  Once spring bulbs go dormant, you could smother where they are and kill existing weeds in that area.  Next spring, the cardboard will be decomposed and the bulbs will come up--maybe don't mulch really deep on the cardboard in that area or make sure it is not deep in the fall.

"Spot smothering"--it can work.  In mulch, it might be helpful to pull what parts of the weed, you can, at first.  Then make sure to smother at least a foot beyond the edge of the weeds.  Quack grass and creeping charlie will probably get out the sides of just a foot over their edges.  If they do, pull, cut or cover those parts too.

You need to be diligent to make sure no weed parts get up above the smother layer--that is what they want to do--and spreading plants are designed to do that.  Success depends on your diligence.

Another method for raspberries, asparagus or other plants like that is to apply 2 to 6" of mulch (not wood) once or twice a month and let it keep building up at their base, as they are growing above it.  You must work to pull any weed parts coming up in the mulch.

If weeds are growing in your mulch--make the mulch thicker.  "Mulch!Mulch!Mulch" handout has some on this.

Good luck,


When to plant...?

Hi Roger,

I really enjoyed your vegetable gardening 101 class, and learning all about lasagna gardening (I am starting my first garden this spring at a community space!).  However, I missed your class on tomato blight because it was full, and lost the scrap of paper with direction to the information covered.   Is there anyway you could send me that?

Also, any advice on what to plant if I am forced to plant later in May due to travel plans?

Thanks again,


Hi Mike

I am glad you enjoyed my presentations.  I hope the information is helpful. 

You can find all the handouts at infiltratinglandscapes.blogspot.com  Help yourself.  All the handouts are there and working, as far as I can tell.

I don't know where you are, but I don't plant tomatoes and other summer crops until late May or even early June.  I think early to mid May is too cool for tomatoes.

Check the seed packet, days to harvest and your earliest frost date and do some math.

Good luck with your garden.  If your fellow community gardeners think you are crazy--just remember the pictures I showed.  By mid-summer--they will be asking you for advice.


Lasgana Garden--what to do after growing season and to expand....

Hi Roger,

I just wanted to say thanks for the directions you sent last year.
I tried just a small area of about 8 x 8. It worked fabulously and I want to expand more this year.
I just wanted to check about what to do the second year. If I'm reading the directions correctly I should skip the cardboard and just mulch on top of whatever is left from last year up to 24 ".
Is that correct???

Thanks again for the great tip.


Hi Ann,

Thanks for the feedback.  That is great to hear.  Yes, it is simple, if you just do it by the directions. Congratulations on yoru success.

The smother/cardboard layer is to kill the existing vegetation.  If you have not let perennials weeds grow in the lasagna mulch, like quack grass or creeping charlie, no smother layer is needed for the established area.

If you plan to expand that area, you need to do a smother layer on the new area, and try to get some smother layer under the edge of the existing lasagna garden so quack  grass and creeping charlie don't come through there.

Good luck,


Monday, February 14, 2011

Your Pictures--please


Many of you told me this weekend you have had successful Lasagna Gardens, please send me your pics and I will post them.




Thanks--up and coming


Thanks to all who attended the talks I gave at the Garden Expo.  I hope you had as much fun as I did.  As you can tell, this is a passion of mine. 

I have one last handout to get up here--Mulch, Mulch, Mulch.  I will also be adding my handouts for composting and worm composting.

Then I will be reworking the layout of this blog, and start to answer your questions.  I will be adding most of the pictures I used in my presentations.

Happy gardening,


Friday, February 11, 2011

Hello and welcome

I am at the WHA-TV Garden Expo in Madison, WI this weekend presenting a number of talks on natural, clean, organic gardening.