May 30- Outdoor Bed Prep

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Friday was a big day for the tomatoes! We arrived at West Madison around 9AM and immediately got to work. Brian tilled the outdoor plot first thing to prepare the soil and mix in the chicken fertilizer that was spread the previous day. With help from the Research Station’s garden interns, our team measured the location of the 21 beds in the plot marking them with garden stakes every 4ft at each end. Next we laid compost down where each bed would be constructed. One group worked on filling wheelbarrows with compost, and another group transported the compost to the beds for spreading. This took all morning. Following a much needed lunch break, the team worked in the hoop house removing the black plastic laid earlier (we learned it was not OK for organic certification!) and weeding the tomato beds while we waited for the mulch to get tilled into the outdoor plot. Once the tilling finished, we were able to get out there and construct the mounds for each tomato bed by digging trenches and dumping the shoveled soil in the center of the bed. Drip tape was then measured, cut and staked in along the center of each bed. The last step involved laying black plastic over each bed for weed prevention and moisture retention. To keep the plastic in place, we shoveled soil over the edges. Before leaving the field site we closed the hoop house sides for the weekend, and everyone was rewarded with a refreshing freezy pop provided by Terri!

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