Last weekend Cadence and I tackled cleaning up the garden for winter. While Cadence harvested the remaining potatoes, beets, and herbs (coriander, in this photo) I pulled out the 98 spent tomato plants, which can be seen in the background.
In addition to pulling out the vegetation, I removed the wooden stakes by each plant, untangled and wound up the red cords that I had woven through the plants as they grew to support them, pulled out the tall metal stakes, and rolled up the soaker hoses I had embedded in the mulch for watering but only used once. Seems like undoing the garden is more work than putting it in, but I guess that is because it is all in one big effort, not in stages.
The vines still held a lot of big tomatoes that had frozen, which I threw over the fence to the appreciative chickens, turkeys and geese. It was evident that if there had been even one more week of nice weather before the unseasonable cold, snow and endless rain set in, we would have harvested a lot more tomatoes--we surely would have surpassed 1000 lb. Our total tomato harvest this year was just over 900 lb.
We piled up all the vegetation from the nightshade family -tomatoes peppers, eggplants,potatoes and tomatillos - to be burned instead of composted, to avoid spreading disease to next year's crop. Today I burned the pile--but that was easier said than done. There was still a lot of moisture in the vegetation. BUt, we are forecast to have more rain so now seemed better than later.
Although our first year garden was a great success, one of the things I was a bit disappointed in not accomplishing was getting a raspberry patch started. But then, on Sunday I noticed an ad on Craigslist (the farmer's most valuable resource) from a woman who was overrun by raspberries and would give the plants away for the digging. Yesterday Sara and Cadence drove over and dug two baskets full. They are this summer's canes, which should bear fruit next year.
Today I planted 65 raspberry plants in three rows, six feet apart. They look beautiful! I had concluded that the best place to site them was in the former tomato bed, since none of the nightshade family can be planted there again for several years. However, this evening I pulled out my various resource books and looked up raspberries to find out what they would prefer for mulching and was dismayed to read that raspberries are susceptible to many of the same soil-borne diseses that tomatoes are... They should not be planted where tomatoes have grown in the previous 3 years (one book said 5 years.) Now what?!!?
If you have any raspberry-growing experience, I would love to hear your advice! Although my book advises not to plant raspberries where tomatoes have been, it also states that red raspberries are not as susceptible to verticillium wilt as black rasperries and blackberries are. The woman who gave us the plants assured us they are very healthy and productive, but unfortunately, I do not know what variety of berry it is and whether it is a resistant strain. On the optimistic side, we did not see any evidence of wilt in our tomatoes this year -- it was a totally new garden space that had never seen tomatoes before and we started all of our tomatoes from seed, not nursery stock, if that makes a difference. Although I really do not have time or energy to dig up and replant 65 raspberry plants, I would do it if the risk of disease is great. What do you think?