I wanted to write a little ditty about a secret of mine called double digging, but I fear after Monday’s insights into the blog censorship in the schools it may play right into the GCS Gestapo’s hands, having so many possible subversive and double meanings known only to rebellious or perverted adolescents.
Well, at least I know they won’t be able to read this. That is some relief. I guess I can cuss and swear too while I’m at it.
But I did want to write about my tomatoes. We are having a bumper crop, a practical explosion of red in my back yard this year. We have had NO blossom end rot, and I even stopped picking out the suckers – so even despite that the tomatoes keep coming.
This has been a summer for bad tomatoes – long periods of no rain followed by a day or two of several inches. I suppose it’s been good to keep away fungi, but generally tomatoes don’t do too well with uneven soil moisture.
This year I sucked (Oh dear, will that word get by the censors) it up and tried an old trick called double digging. It’s easy where I am from where the soil is mostly sand, but terribly difficult here. So this is what I did. I dug a trench about a foot wide and maybe twelve feet long and 10 inches or so deep. After evening out the bottom I jumped in and dug it twice as deep. I used shovel, pick ax, and tiller to break the red clay under-soil. It was hard but eventually I got it done.
The dirt I pulled out I spread onto one side in a large shallow pile. To that pile I added lots of organic matter – mostly decomposed leaves, lime, some well composted cow manure, and a few bags of fine mulch. Then I mixed all that up with my tiller. Then it rained and the trench filled with water so I had to wait, but after it dried out I added a little more lime and filled in the trench. Of course it ended up being somewhat of a long hill, which I turned into circular hills for planting. I like to plant a little above ground with a circular wall to keep in water. I planted my young tomatoes extra deep, added mulch, and voilá, I was done.
I did not do the same for the squash, watermelon, or all the flowers I planted. Much of the garden struggled this summer through the periods of drought, so much that the abundant rain when it came did not make things all better.
But the tomatoes never seemed to lack for moisture. They hardly ever wilted, but neither did they suffer from the effects of fungal problems due to over watering. I think the double digging caused their roots to grow extra deep, and the extra organic matter helped retain moisture during the dry times, and helped keep the soil from being overly soggy during the wet times. The steady moisture pattern plus the extra lime seems to have done the trick as to blossom end rot. It’s been tomato city this summer.
So, if you want good tomatoes in this horrid red stuff – I’d try double digging.
Please don’t let any of your chldren know that I wrote about double digging. I have a reputation to protect, and they may kick my daughter out of the schools if they find out.
(this was originally posted Tuesday from my Blogger site, but soem bad code was messing up the RSS feed – go to http://joelgillespie.blogspot.com/)