Weed control demonstration
Our lovely cool and wet spring weather has allowed us to fully demonstrate the effectiveness of both plant through and grow through paper mulch systems. With the cool weather, we've been busy planting SPIN beds to greens in between more traditional Sacramento Valley late spring crops like tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers. The picture set here shows the effectiveness of one of our Urban Farm Demonstration areas:
Raised beds on the right are already transplanted with squash and peppers. Tomato planting area in centeris being prepared by rolling paper out over existing weeds. Here we pushed down weeds with the bucket on a front end loader to get a flat surface since some dry coarse weeds stems remained from last year. Primary weed at preparation time was annual ryegrass.
The photo above shows a second area north of raised beds with compost spread, ready for planting.
Here planting lines have been drawn for SPIN beds with the back of a pitchfork. Limas have been laid out ready to be dibbled in.
Dibbling in takes a little practice, but the technique used here is to simply poke a hole underneath a seed on the surface so the seed falls down into the hole. Limas were soaked in water to speed germination so should not be planted with a mechanical seeder. Dibble sticks are available commercially, but the soft texture of the compost here made the trusty old finger more precise and reliable. Use a slight angle to poke from the side and under seed. If seed is still visible, pinch soil over seed to cover. Making the holes encourages water from sprinklers (or this spring, rain) to collect around seed so young roots have ample moisture.
With longer term crops planted including Snow Peas, Limas, Okra, Green Bush and Pole Beans, Tomatoes, and Eggplant, what to do with the ground in between? SPIN beds of short season crops can be seen here. Plantings are staggered to provide a constant harvest. Greens are already being harvested from Raised Beds. Arugula left of Tomatoes is nearly ready with lettuce between Tomato rows about a week further back. Broccoli and more Arugula are broadcast planted between rows of Bush Lake Green Beans. Row length was planned for harvest so regrowth could be harvested again. Shorter rows running across the planting area allows easy access to SPIN beds of greens while Tomatoes and eventually Beans provide shade and evaporative cooling to extend the greens season.
A birds eye view of this Urban Farm Demonstration Area shows ongoing harvest rotation. Chard and Spinach are planted between rows of Peas with Okra and Limas planted on one side. Spinach will be first to harvest followed by Peas and Chard with Limas and Okra coming in season as Peas die back.
One raised bed is producing Squash while Peppers mature while the other two have multiple varieties of Radish being harvested, samples of Greens harvested and growing back, mini heads of Butter Lettuce, and the first sets of Green Onions nearing harvest. Multiplier onions are also planted in the Squash and Pepper beds for integrated pest management (IPM).
Top center shows Tomatoes ready to be trellised. Determinate varieties are in one row with Indeterminate varieties in the other. Arugula and Pak Choi are on the far side of the Tomatoes to be harvested from the edge of the bed. Mixed green and red Leaf Lettuce is broadcast planted between Tomato rows. Parsley and Cilantro are planted for harvest from the pathway on the right side of the Tomatoes.
Broccoli and Arugula SPIN beds are filling nicely between rows of Bush Beans. With the return of hot weather, additional plantings of SPIN beds to greens was stopped. Rows of Pole Beans and Cucumbers can be seen on the left. These will be trellised to provide shade and cooling for summer greens. In Davis, we have temperatures over 100 degrees for several days at a time from June through September with some hot days as early as April and as late as the end of October, so laying out rows to provide shade and cooling can radically increase planting area by extending seasons for different varieties of vegetables.
This compact Urban Farm Demonstration Area shows what can be accomplished in just a couple of months.
This morning shot of Red and Green Leaf Lettuce between Tomatoes shows the impact of filtered sunlight and cooling from taller green plants. At the same time, Paper Sheet Mulch and the surface Compost layer are keeping Tomato roots moist while reducing swings in soil moisture.
Interplanting with SPIN beds of greens reduces weed growth and pulling weeds between rows of Tomatoes is actually picking weed from high value salad greens. Tall and short stature plants work together to enhance each other's environments.
Visit our storefront to enjoy this delicious synergy.