|We started with the South rows - German Pink, Italian Heirloom & Dr Wyche's Yellow|
In order to lay the mulch, we first need to 'skritch' and weed around the plants. Certainly a thick enough mulch will suppress many of the smaller weeds, but tougher weeds will potentially grow through it. It's just better to do a quick weeding first.
Then, we need to lay the drip tape before the mulch. Typically, we lay the drip tape as close to the stems of the plants on the South side as we are able. This is important so we know where to put the stakes when we cage the tomato plants.
|Middle rows weeded, North rows still wanting attention.|
This matters because we will protect the plants that are showing more strength first rather than spend time trying to "rescue" the weaker ones. We've learned that this is usually the best approach on our farm to get the most out of our work time and our fields. Sometimes, you just have to admit that some plants won't make it and aren't worth the time. So, if we found that we couldn't complete the field, it is better to not complete the area where the plants show that they are weak and may not make it.
|There are small peppers and eggplant in the North most row... Really!|
|Drolet in his natural habitat|
|Tomatoes mulched, eggplant and peppers weeded. TADAAAAAAAAAAA!|
We mulch tomatoes for several reasons.
1. mulch keeps weeds down
2. mulch maintains a more consistent moisture level around the plants
3. straw mulch will add organic matter to the soil
4. mulch prevents soil splash onto tomato leaves - many tomato diseases are spread by soil splash onto leaves and the plant
5. mulch makes picking easier for the person that harvests the tomatoes (usually Rob)
Even better, our rotation has been modified to move the garlic so that it gets planted in this field where the basil is. Basil usually dies off in mid-September. Garlic gets planted in October/November. We heavily mulch garlic with straw. The straw in the tomatoes doesn't break down all the way during the season - so we can pull it from the tomatoes to the garlic in late Fall. Sounds like a winner to me!
And, finally - we interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post for some day lily flowers. Thank you for your attention.