[tomato] Doing everything wrong/right!

John and Jan Taylor (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Sun, 07 Mar 1999 13:25:57 -0600

Hi all,

Couldn't help but post this message after reading about better manure,
additives to soil, baking soil, etc....All good advice, but who has the

Here is what we do each year and have great success, not only with
tomatoes, but all our veggies....

I am posting this only expecting to hear that what we are doing is wrong
and should not work! (but it does)....

We live just outside of San Antonio, where it gets hotter than you know
what in the summer....We are on acreage, but hold our garden to about
300-400 square feet (including the spots most would use for
flowers....). Our primary garden is in full sun, but our other spots are
either morning sun or mostly shade.

We have access to tons of horse manure.....and in the spring we
generally can be counted on to 'clean out' a stall or two....all of that
goes into the garden. Lately though, one of my dogs has developed the
nasty habit of snitching horse manure from the pasture....she brings it
into our yard and tears it up.....Not complaining, she is spreading it
in different spots!

Our biggest problem with the heat is watering......not being able to
keep enough water on the plants because of the heat (it evaporates very
very quickly).....In addition, our water district imposes large fines if
you go over the minimum amounts (they double your bill...)...So! Year
before last hubby ran the lines from my washer dump water (blue water)
to the garden.....All of that goes into the garden and we are
considering venting other 'blue water' to the garden. We also bought
soaker hoses just in case we need to water extra.

Whats in my washer blue water? (Here is where I may hear back from all
of you)....Wisk liquid laundry detergent and sometimes clorox.....Now,
oddly enough, when I am on a bleach frenzy and do a lot of white
bleaching ....my plants tend to grow like crazy..I would have thought it
would have been a problem, but found out it may be helping....I also
have less bugs than most around here....

Weeds? You bet! They keep us busy, but busy costs nothing....those
colored plastic mulches do....this year however (after reading cheap
mulching techniques) we may use newspaper and/or hay.....would help to
retain moisture and keep weeds down...Our weed help comes
feathered.....the chickens get into the garden after the plants are well
established...scratch in the rows and keep it pretty clean.....they may
be eating the bugs too....but we have never seen any signs of them
pecking at the veggies....The only weed that is impossible to keep out
of the garden is bermuda grass....the rest I can usually keep at bay by
getting them by their roots....

We don't necessarily add any fertilizer.....occasionally we may water
with Miracle Grow..but that is only one or two times a growing season
(which is now through Christmas) ..I do start my plants with it....but
after they are established I generally rely on what mother nature gives
me.....sometimes I make a couple of 5 gallon buckets of 'manure
tea'..which I get this way....I find the pasture the horses have
recently been in....take (2) 5 gallon buckets and a shovel and scoop up
the fresh stuff....bring that back to the garden area and fill the
buckets....let them sit for a week or two (and make sure they are down
wind from any windows).....after it has 'brewed' in the Texas sun for a
week or so, we dump them ...(and promptly hose our self down if it
splashed...)....(you can tie up the manure in cheesecloth and put that
in the buckets...but I always forget to buy cheesecloth...and the other
way works good...)

Our soil is very sandy...but after a few years mixing in 'barn
scrapings' the main garden area is a sandy loam, and holds together
quite well....

My point is this: For those who want to bake soil, use additives, line
the rows with red mulch, and play concert music to their plants...go for
it..... I am in it for the end result that mother nature allows me to
have for the year given the soil and conditions she has so graciously
given me.....and have had minimal problems....and beautiful productive

Any other 'cheap' tricks out there?

Clorox????? (yep *grin*)...

Jan Taylor
San Antonio, Texas
(fajita's on the grill today...guacomole on the side and fresh