More pre-planting work
We got a call at the Master Garden desk last week from someone who wanted to plant tomatoes outside already. We tried to discourage it, since there's a good chance we could get a killing frost in the next two or three weeks, but I don't know if the caller took our advice or not.
Although it is too early to plant tomatoes, melons, green beans or any other warm weather-loving fruit or veggie, it's a fine time to continue getting your garden ready. I've already spread compost, so decided to break up my bag of biochar and spread it in a few beds. I figured I had the right tool for the job.
After laying the bag out flat on the driveway, I took a swing with my sledgehammer. I was hoping to be able to break the char up into little bitty bits in the bag. Instead, the bag burst open on the first swing. Oops.
OK, not a problem. I poured it into my wheelbarrow, where it looked like a pitiful amount of soil amendment for $15. Then I tried whacking it into small pieces with my sledgehammer. I'm not sure how small the pieces should have been. During the master gardening class, the instructor who taught about biochar said not to pulverize it.
The amount in the wheelbarrow looked pretty miniscule, so I decided to spread it in only two areas. This bed is in the middle of my lawn (where it shouldn't be, but I couldn't resist, because it's so sunny and I wanted just a little more room to grow things). I added biochar to this bed because biochar is supposed to improve the soil's water handling capacity and this bed doesn't always get as much water as it should because of my irrigation system. I'm going to plant cowpeas, cucumbers and maybe a Kazakh melon in this bed, all of which are supposed to be climbers, so I'll put one of my trellises here, too.
I also added it to this bed because I decided to put my tomato trellis here, and I want big, honking tomatoes. Although I broke the biochar into smaller pieces in the wheelbarrow, once it was in the bed, I continued breaking it into smaller pieces with the shovel when I worked it into the soil.
With my husband's help, I put my trellises set up, even though I'll use them for warm-weather plants and won't be planting anything to climb on them for another three or four weeks. I'm rearranging things in the garden this season and wanted to see how much room I had with them in place. My husband thinks this looks kinda Beverly Hillbilly-ish there in the front yard, but I assured him that once green growing things covered the trellises, it would be the envy of the neighborhood. And if tomatoes climbed to the top of the tomato trellis he would be in hog heaven, and tacky would no longer be an issue.