It is now time to clean-up and prepare for next year.
One of the best decisions I made this season was to buy a set of 6 Texas Tomato Cages (see this blog entry). Not only have they supported my Cherry Tomato plants well, but they are a snap to take apart and break down. The picture above shows all 6 of the Texas Tomato Cages laying flat.
This makes storage very easy!
The picture above shows my Raised Bed after I had cut away all of the Tomato Plants and took down the Texas Tomato Cages. See all of the weeds that have popped up. Also, the soil level has dropped about 4 to 5 inches in the past 8 months.
I put a layer of newspapers over the soil to kill the weeds and prevent any new weeds from sprouting. The layer of newspapers is thin, only about 3 to 4 pages thick, but this is sufficient to prevent any weeds from poking through.
Next, I put a layer of Soybean Meal over the newspapers. Soybean Meal is a good well balanced natural fertilizer , with a N-P-K ratio of 7-2-1.
This is one of the few times that I need to fertilize my Raised Bed. The only other time is when I plant the Cherry Tomato seedlings. At that time, I put a scoop of Fishbone Meal (see this blog entry) in the planting hole. The Fishbone Meal compensates for the low Phosphorous (P) in Soybean Meal. Phosphorous does not move in the soil, so it works best to put it right where the roots of the Cherry Tomato plants are growing.
This is all of the fertilizer that I use.
My Cherry Tomato Plants grow well over 8 feet tall (see this blog entry) and I have tons of Cherry Tomatoes (see this blog entry).
On top of the Soybean Meal, I put a thick layer of composted Steer Manure that I bought from my local Home Depot. The composted Steer Manure does 2 things. First, it adds organic matter to the soil. Second, it masks the smell of the Soybean Meal, so that animals don't try to dig up the Raised Bed in search of food.
Over the next four months, the Soybean Meal and the Steer Manure will compost. By February, when I am ready to plant my first Cherry Tomato seedlings, the soil will be rich in nutrients.
I did the same thing with my other Raised Bed. You can see the final result in the picture below.