Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Companion planting with hairy vetch -- Update

Last Fall I threw some hairy vetch seed into some of my raised beds.  It's supposed to work well with tomatoes.  It puts nutrients into the ground that the tomatoes need.  Once it gets tall you cut it down and use it for mulch. 

Here's what it looked like after the long winter.
My tomatoes are getting too big for my greenhouse, so I thought I might as well plant a few.  I know that it's still early.  Supposedly we still have another week until our last frost date.  I checked the 7-day forecast and the lowest it's supposed to go is 49*.  (I guess I didn't need that new greenhouse climate controller after all.  Knock on wood...)
These guys are ready to go.  I have plenty of them so I can risk losing a few.
Before I could plant the tomatoes I had to remove the hairy vetch.  That was a pain.  It was one great big tangled mess.  It pulled up alright around the edges.  It was more difficult to remove towards the middle.  I used garden clippers to cut it off just above the soil.  (I used a utility knife to remove the hairy vetch from the second bed.  That worked a lot better.)
Big pile of matted hairy vetch.  It was like a thick blanket.
I was pleasantly surprised once the stuff was out of the bed.  The soil underneath was beautiful.  It was black and moist.  It looks like this stuff is going to work well as mulch.
Hairy vetch removed from the first bed.  Working around the drip irrigation line made removing it that much harder.
Next I planted three roma tomato plants and put the hairy vetch around them as mulch.
The final step was to return the drip irrigation line back to where it belonged. 

I planted these tomatoes 16" apart.  I think I had my tomatoes too close last year and I want to give them plenty of space this year. 

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