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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tomato Bed - More Progress

Finally getting back to the Tomato Bed. Well really it should be called the Spring/Summer/Autumn bed or the Tomato/Melon/Cucurbit/Corn/Okra bed. I'll just stick to the Tomato Bed.

The next stage is to lay out weed mat. I hate weed mat when it has to be removed or when it gets old and straggly but nothing beats it for keeping the grass down for a few months while the vines from the melons, pumpkins and Cucumbers mature. For a few years we tried a thick layer of mulch hay but just could not make it work successfully. It works on the Tomatoes because by the time the weeds start to pop through the Tomatoes are so thick with foliage they shade out the weeds.

The Tomatoes are ready to plant and Thursday will be the big day according to the Bio Dynamic Calendar. The vines seeds are in seed trays and so we have plenty of time to finish their beds before they are ready. Sometimes we have planted the seeds directly into the mounds but for an early germination the cold frame is best.

In this initial step of the vine beds we pick a non windy day and lay out the really long pieces of weed mat. After the first two long sections were down in went the irrigation pipe. The elevated spray nozzles are put in existing holes at appropriate spacing. This first row will be Zucchini, Cucumber, left over Capsicum plants and some vertical growing vines such as Bitter Melon. The mounds are closer together as they need less space. While still accessible by tractor the first layer of composted Cow manure is put down. The chicken litter will be carried in by hand later because we are not ready to collect it just yet.

The third panel of weed mat is put down and the irrigation pipe installed but the spacing of spray nozzles is further apart as this row will have Rockmelon and Water Melon.

At this stage the weed mat is held down with strategically placed soft wood logs, when we run out of these we will used old tyres. Tyres are ok but they do have the habit of harbouring serpents. The soft wood is treated pine and reasonably light. Not something we would normally have our property but...

These logs are leftover scrap removed from our house when it was modified 15 years ago. Unfortunately our house is made from treated pine logs. It was  an ugly log cabin and the logs are  now entombed inside with Gyprock lining and outside with fibre cement sheeting and cement render.

There is still another row of weed mat and irrigation pipe to go and smaller weed mat offcuts will go in between the mounds, Slowly we are getting there.

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