Laying Out the Tomato Garden, Part One

by Angela aka Farmer Jane on February 21, 2012 · 0 comments

For the last three days I’ve been busy outside getting my hands dirty.

Saturday I pruned the fruit trees and pulled back mulch to get ready for planting.

Sunday Dom had to go to work so I emptied the duck pool and poured the duck water around the fruit trees.

Monday Dom and I pulled the winter coverings off the fig trees.

After getting all the wiring and poles taken out from around the fig trees, all the straw had to be bagged and brought into the chicken pasture.

I’ll be spreading the straw to form the new garden beds for our tomato guild. Even though the tomatoes need to be started in the greenhouse, there are other things that can be planted out right now.

In the photo above the first layer of aged horse manure was laid on contour. Right now the sprinkler is going to keep the ground wet. I’ve marked out where all the beds will be, and now the daunting task of shoveling the manure continues.

In the photo to the right are all the bags filled with straw.

We have seven fig trees and shoving the straw into the black bags took about three bags each. A lot of that straw will be gone before we even get the second row done.

Hopefully Dom hasn’t under estimated how much straw goes into sheet mulching.

Nothing is tilled, no rocks removed and no weed seeds raked up. Last year we sheet mulched the no dig potato patch and to experience how quickly everything broke down into black rich soil was a treat to see. Sheet mulching takes many more layers than no dig potatoes, but the process is very similar.

Last year almost everything was planted in prepared holes in the ground. I was unsure how anything would take out here, but what I find so beautiful about the desert is that it wants to bloom, grow, and produce.

I’ve experimented with different patches around the property, and what I’ve found is that just adding a little compost and some duck poop water to the sand here, and then covering it up with straw will begin to turn the sandy soil into something beautiful. The color and texture also changes.


Dom began the process of getting rid of our Chinese Sumac, better known as Tree of Heaven. Some of the branches were cut and the bark was stripped around the base. In the next few days he’ll be driving copper into the core of the tree to kill it.

If you’re unsure why we’re taking the tree down, I wrote about it last year and you can read that post here.

I have one more thing to report…

I checked the soil around the new crab apple trees and since planting them a month ago, they do not need water at all. It has rained a few times over the past month, but noting too substantial.

I was extremely pleased with how our compost holds onto water. When I add compost around each of the fruit trees today, I won’t be covering it up with straw until Wednesday after I plant out the area, so it will be interesting to see how dry it gets.

A lot needs to be done this week to be able to get the garlic in the ground, but I know that if it takes two weeks to get all the beds laid, everything will work out just fine.


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