Hi, I found these instructions on an American website.
The first step toward high tomato yields is taken in early Septembe
when you prepare permanent raised tomato beds. If you're trying thi
method for the first time, use an inoculum to establish the proper soi
Seed the beds with hairy vetch, a winter-hardy legume that's becomin
widely available. Do this about 2 months before winter freezeup
Seedlings will emerge within 1 week. By the time that frost arrives
plants will be 5 to 6 inches tall.
Above ground, these skinny little vines will form a mat. Underground
the root systems will all this time be growing into an extensiv
network. Foliage and root systems will be working together, above an
below ground, to hold the soil firmly and stop erosion.
Below-freezing weather will cause the vetch vines to become dormant
but never fear—Spring reinvigorates growth.
Now that wasn't too tough. And the good news is, you won't have to d
anything else until May.
By May, individual vines will be 4 or 5 feet long and form thick stand
about 2 feet high. Now it's time to kill them.
Yes, I said kill them!
Determine your ideal tomato-planting time. The day before, go out an
buy however many tomato seedlings you're prepared to cultivate.
Then mow the vetch (a high-speed flail mower is recommended) and leav
the residue in place on the beds. For the next several months, the dea
vines are going to form a nutritious organic blanket that will snuggl
up to your tomato plants (keeping out weeds) and gradually break dow
into soil nutrients.
Tomorrow you'll transplant young tomato plants right through the mulc
residue and into the underlying soil.
Moisture is vital, so you'll need to irrigate. Immediately afte
planting, install trickle irrigation lines on top of the vetch and 3 t
4 inches from the tomato row. Fix them in place with U-shaped wires.
Fertilizers? A good stand of vetch provides sufficient nitrogen to mee
from half to all the nitrogen needed by tomatoes. As for phosphorus
potassium, and essential micronutrients, it's best to have your soi
tested—and supplement according to the soil's specific needs.
During the first month after mowing, expect the vetch mulch to suppres
weed emergence. After that, as the decomposition of the residu
advances, weed seedlings are likely to emerge.
One herbicidal application of 0.5 pound active ingredient of metribuzi
per acre should do the trick, applied 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting
(Your nursery professional can help compute the quantity needed fo
small applications.) This application will also kill any regrowth fro
the mowed vetch plants.
By summer's end, your tomato plants will bear an abundance of fruit
the organic mulch will decompose to a fare-thee-well, and the year wil
have come full circle.
Mow the old tomato plants and leave them in the field to decompose lik
the vetch mulch.
Now it's time to reseed with... hairy vetch!
Has anyone tried it?
Does it work in the greenhouse as well as outdoors?
Where do you get Hairy Vetch ib the UK?
Would this cause a problem with Blight spore buildup?
I would appreciate any comments