Today, I took advantage of the lovely, warmer than forecast weather we are having, to clean up and redo the tomato bed.
Here is how it looked when I started. This is a new bed, built this spring, and I was very happy to see how deep and strong the roots on the tomato plants where, when I pulled them. I also saw the biggest, fattest worms I’ve seen this year!!
There were two goals to redoing this bed. One was to make sure the soil didn’t go through the chain link fence. When the bed was build, we laid cardboard down on the grass first, with the flaps up against the fence. That cardboard is pretty broken down now. We had to top up the soil part way through the year, and boards I’d scavenged from the barn were used to keep it from going through the fence. The other goal was to use the bricks to create a little retaining wall around the bed. When watering the tomatoes, no matter how gentle we tried to be, soil eroded into the path, exposing roots. Especially at the end by the vehicle gate, which got even more soil added to try and combat the erosion.
The first thing to do was move the soil away from the fence and pull up the boards. Then I went back along the fence with a hoe to make it as even as I could.
The boards were then put back, this time to fit in between the fence posts. Each section got one full length board, plus another cut to about 3/4 length. I snagged an extra board from the where the cucamelons were planted, on the other side of the people gate, to have enough.
The chain link fence is kind of wobbly, so I used the left over sections of board and placed them at the “seams” between each pair of boards, to support them from the weight of the soil.
Then, in a couple of sections, I also hammered pegs into the ground on the outside of the fence, for extra support.
That done, it was time to start working on the bricks.
First, I had a decision to make.
Should I make the bed two, or three, bricks wide?
I decided on two and a half!
This way, not only would the bed be a comfortable width, but there would be no corner to catch a foot on. Because I just know that I’d be doing that, constantly! 😀
Once that was decided, the soil was moved out of the way and the space where the bricks would go, leveled as well as I could with a hoe. Then the bricks were spread out along the length of the bed.
Would I have enough? It did look like it, but I wasn’t completely sure.
The next job was to use a garden claw to loosen the soil where the bricks would go, so I could push them down a bit. Not too far, though, because I didn’t want to lose any height.
By the time I reached the end, there was a gap of about two inches, so I just moved the bricks at the end to fill it!
Then is was time to level off the soil. This was also the time to pick out any remaining weeds and roots.
Then I went over it with a hose to wash the soil against the bricks and boards a bit more, and clean off any soil that got on top.
The final touch was to mulch the whole thing with leaf litter.
This bed is now ready for next year!
The tomatoes did so well here, we might use it for tomatoes again next year!
The boards and bricks around this bed are temporary. The wood will rot away, and there bricks are just sitting on the ground. At some point, we plan to get to the salvage place and see what sort of bricks and blocks we can find. Maybe even some paving stones. Once we have the materials, the path will be laid with bricks or paving stones, and the bed itself well get framed in a more permanent way. Until we are able to do that, though, this will be enough to keep the soil in this bed from washing away when we water it.
I was pretty much done when the girls finished their stuff inside, and came out to work on the last bed in the main garden area that needed to be cleaned up.
Since we have the straw bale now – and the chipper/shredder – I am thinking of running some straw through the shredder and using that to mulch the top of these beds over the winter.
Aside from that, these beds in the main garden area are now all done and ready for next year.
I’m pretty happy with how these are turning out!