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!!


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