One of my 7 Tomatoe Teepees (4 plants each). This one is some of the freakishly vigorous yellow pear plants from Seed Savers. The plants have easily climbed over 6′ tall in less than 2 months! The teepees are so sturdy that I didn’t lose a single plant in a particularly vicious storm front last week with 50mph winds and 3-4″ of rain. This bed also contains 1.5 dozen pepper plants and has an understory (waaaay under these days!) of white dutch clover for weed suppression, insect attraction, and nitrogen. The teepees also offer fantastic habitat for our black and yellow garden spiders which are superb general predators taking the edge off any pest invasion.
This is a shot of one of our native beds. Not a prairie as it was planned primarily for aesthetics but all plants are native to Wisconsin. The cupplant I am behind are only 3 years old and are well over 8′ tall with leaves the size of dinner plates. This bed has seen no fertilizer other than deep mulching-and the droppings from the numerous voles, sparrows, finches, and chickadees that frequent it!
The key to any gardening regime is meeting the plants needs-the heavy feeding corn, melons, and tomatoes got a very healthy dose of horse manure (1-2″). In addition the tomato bed was cover cropped with a rye/vetch last fall, and the corn bed was the bottom of the massive sod based compost pile of last year’s prairie restoration. The beds also had prep with green sand for trace nutrients, and periodic applications of either composted chicken manure or fish emulsion. With the exception of the fish emulsion and green sand, all of the inputs to these beds are readily accessible on any well balanced (livestock+diverse plantings) small farm-the way 90% of farming was done in Wisconsin 90 years ago when my grandfather was supporting a family of 10 doing it. I will put my yields up against anyones-and this is on only 3 year old gardens on top of a soil made up of a sand/gravel/clay mix from a quarry used as backfill in our subdivision.
“Beyond” Organic Farming works amazingly well-my 8′ corn has impressed the heckfire out of me. I got 40#’s of potatoes off of 100 sq ft-that works out to about 9 tonnes per acre which compares very favorably with conventional yeilds… and that is with a lower yeilding Purple Viking strain v. the typical Russets.
Be the change!