Last year I tried a new variety of tomato, the Park’s Whopper. They’re a slicing tomato and the vines are too vigorous for staking so this year I plan to let them grow free on a bed of mulch and straw. I’m a real believer in leaf mulch, and I’m seeing the results in the worm population which continues to increase.
Worms don’t actually eat the leaf material until it breaks down into minute particles, but they love the fungus that grows on leaves, and as they move through the mulch they help break it down. One concern is that leaves are very acidic so if you want to avoid a calcium deficiency and the inevitable blossom end rot in your tomatoes and other fruiting vegetables you need to incorporate some lime around the plant and then dust the mulch as I’ve done in the photo to the right. While the soil acts as a buffer, and it’s hard to apply too much, I only add a handful to the soil around the plant and another handful to the mulch. If you like to measure, about 1/2 to 3/4s of a cup should be enough.