It’s planting time for summer here at Hillside Gardens, in NE Georgia.
Yesterday my friend and intern Mandy and I planted a tomato bed. It’s about 10’x5′ rock walled terrace in full sun. The soil is well developed over years of sheet mulching and amending.
We weeded the area, raked off the winter straw, and saw holes under the straw I’m sure are vole or gopher holes (we haven’t found a way to get rid of them and I won’t use poisons). So, we did a light cultivation with the golden claw (just one flip over).
I thought I’d share the planting guide for you. As a Permaculture Designer we have some great tools – one of them is the ‘guild’ – plants that help each other and benefit everything growing. This is a bit more tech than merely companion planting.
It was tomato time. We grew 4 kinds of heirloom tomatoes – Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, Big Boy (I think, but it’s heirloom), and one other. Into the soil where planting, we mixed used coffee grounds and crushed eggshell (for fertilizer and to cure end rot), having dug a trench with a larger hole at the end for the root ball, to lay the long plants in. The side stems along the main stem were pinched off leaving the top 3 or four sets of leaves. This takes advantage of the fact that tomatoes’ hairs along the stems will turn into roots if buried. Only the top 4″ to 5″ of leaves was left outside the soil, gently propped up with a stick.This makes for a much stronger plant.
We set in two rows of 4 plants each row. In the middle between these rows we seeded 3 rows of 2 kinds of heirloom carrots. At four corners we set marigolds. On both sides spaced about 2′ apart, two kinds of sweet basil. In a grid pattern we planted red or yellow onion sets each per side. Over this we mulched and watered. We left two places for calendula – one on each side, and at each end space for parsley.
These plants all are companion plantings.
Later I will scatter some composted chicken manure with bedding over the top. Don’t mix raw compost into the soil, but leaving it on the top is like ‘slow release’ vitamins.
In about two weeks we’ll set tomato cages and support them by tying bamboo poles across the cages with cable ties to give them re-enforcement.
I have designated two beds for tomatoes this year.
Hopefully today I’ll be able to plant my hot peppers in another bed by myself. These are also ‘night shade’ family plants which like the same kinds of companions – marigolds, onions or garlic, basil, etc. It’s going to rain later and this is the perfect time to transplant.
Rainwater is very beneficial for plants as it contains minerals and excellent energetics, especially if it is from a thunderstorm.
I thought this might help you to get more yield and better tasting vegetables, as well as affording some protection to your plants for those who have never tried ‘integrative planting’ techniques. In the same bed you can get much better use of your soil space, as well as longer production.