Monday, June 30, 2008

Graham's Garden Inspirations

Sometimes you have to get out of your own back yard to get new gardening ideas. Every year I visit my good friend and gardener extraordinaire, Graham (Crackers) Bell for inspiration. I got started with raised beds years ago after seeing his. He showed me how easy it is to grow garlic. He has made me a passionate advocate for composted sheep manure. So, when I make my annual visit to his Rhode Island garden, I expect to see something new and useful.

This year it was the tomato support systems. One nifty trick was planting the tomatoes near a fence and then snaking soft twine around the stems as they grow. Tie off the other end to a fence. The other was a two-tiered, heavy gauge, wire combo that the plants grow through (just double click on these images for a detailed look). Both beat the stake and twine system I use. I guess what really matters is getting the plants off of the ground. If you aren't staking your tomatoes give it a try. Yes, you can buy cages and pre-made made systems. But as you can see, devising your own can be just as good. One of the benefits of staking is improved air/light circulation around plants which leads to reduced disease. Also, tomato fruit are lifted off the ground which lessens slug damage and soil borne disease contamination.
Recently, I blogged on and on about raised beds. Check out Graham's rock-raised beds and that beautiful garlic. Well, those are a few of the gardening highlights from my pilgrimage to garden Guru Graham. Next year I hope to master his technique with the martini shaker and find out how to grow borage.

P.S. On my return to Pennsylvania I found Japanese Beetles feasting on my Zinnias and red raspberries. More later on beetle management but if you are seeing beetles on you plants, act now before they invite friends to their dinner party.

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