My fascination with agriculture continues … How many lbs of tomatoes can you get from a single plant? I would have said 30 until last week … But the real answer is 342!! Just finished reading this book “How to Grow World Record Tomatoes” by Charles Wilber … Incredible! The picture is of Charles Wilber standing on a large step ladder by his tomato plants! The secret is to do it organically, that is, without chemical fertilizer … Wilber uses Kudzu compost and other organic mulches. He also uses indeterminate tomato varieties like Better Boy VFN and trains the plant to have 18 stems which are fastened to 3′ diameter X 5′ high cages stacked on top of one another to make a 15 to 20′ tall cage system. The only things I don’t like about Wilber’s system is digging the soil and making compost manually. I like Patricia Lanza’s “Lasagna Garden” system for soil building. For my 2012 garden season, I am experimenting with a 5′ x 5′ Lasagna bed made with alternating layers of shredded newspaper, peat moss, horse manure, hay and soil from an accidental Hugelkultur bed in my back yard. It’s accidental because it was formed by Curtis Clemons’ bulldozer 11 years ago when he cleared my back yard forest of smaller trees to make it look like a park. He didn’t know he was inadvertently making a Hugelkultur bed, but that’s exactly what he made and now I’m benefiting from it. What used to be a pile of brush and tree trunks is now a mound of beautiful humus full of earthworms and organic material. Google Hugelkultur for more info. I will finish my bed with some wood ashes and blood/bone meal. I wonder if digging some soil from where I buried our dead goat 2 years ago would work just as well as blood/bone meal? :-) I bought some red wigglers (earthworms) from the bait store and layered them into my 5′ x 5′ bed. My plan is to let the earthworms and friendly bacteria work their magic all winter, then hopefully set my own tomato production record next summer. I am thinking about “cooking” the bed by covering with black landscape fabric. Stay tuned for a full report!
Healthy Food & Agriculture on December 29th, 2011 by dhawkinsmo