A little over a week ago or so, when I was planting peas (late, yes,) Mike Neir came into the garden and sat with me awhile.
“Is it everything you dreamed of?” he asked.
I thought about that for a few seconds before answering, “not yet. Right now, it’s a lot of damn work.”
And it is. I think the planting stages will probably be harder work than the weeding/maintenance stages – I hope. Still, I am enjoying the process. Being outside is Good. I’ve even had a couple of salads from the lettuces and radishes (more of which I need to plant soon for successions.)
We’ve had a lot of rain here this last week, which has been truly wonderful – no more watering by hand! The plants are loving it, too, bursting new growth forth like gangbusters.
When I say, “plants,” I mean all the plants. Not just my plants, but the weeds, too. I never anticipated this many weeds, holy smokes. Last summer, and for who knows how many other summers, all the weeds got to go fully to seed in there – so I’m hoping this year will be the worst year for weeds, and that they might decrease over time as I relentlessly yank them out before they mature.
Being devoted to organic practices, my arsenal is pretty much “pulling” and “mulch.” When I first put in the tomatoes, I tried a black fabric mulch. It was a colossal pain in the ass to get things started with, but in terms of weed control, A++. No light gets under it, no weeds grow. Pretty simple. I’m weighing out whether I want to install it in other areas of the garden, as well, or just keep pulling manually.
I am not a fan of weeding.
At least, not yet. Some people find it meditative and relaxing, but I am so stinking goal-oriented, all I can think about it “omg must get all the weeds out! There are still weeds left! Weed faster!” Perhaps podcasts or books on tape would help me here, and I’m going to give it a shot. There are many weeks of weeding duty ahead, and I can’t hate it the whole time. 🙂
Compare and contrast:
Guess which half of this raised bed has been weeded? I am not looking forward to the other half, which will require far more meticulousness, as there are baby carrots waiting to be rescued in the middle of all that weediness:
The more delicate, branched leaves are the carrots. It’s going to practically take tweezers in there.
The fabric mulch looks better and better – I just have to figure out how to make it… work. It’s a roll of black fabric, about 3′ wide by 50′ long. One can either cut crosses in it, through which to plant things, or cut long slits in from the side, or cut out circles. I tried the X thing. I had a hard time getting the tomato plants properly placed and filled in well working through the X or reaching under from the edges. Sprouting stuff through the X’s is not fun, either. The onions had a heck of a time, because the fabric shifted and the X was no longer over the bulbs, resulting in things like this:
Maybe larger circular cut-outs are the way to go, coupled with better anchoring. I really, really like not having to weed that little tiny double-wide row. For the areas where it’s just not practical to place the plastic mulch, I’ll be putting down straw. Now that the seedlings are showing pretty well, I can put a thin layer down without fear of smothering them.
Still so much work to do – I don’t even have the beans planted yet! I think I’m going to fight off wanting to take a nap and go plant some under a bamboo trellis. I love these trellises: Fifteen dollars at a local nursery, and I think they’re quite attractive.
I forgot to post this before I went and got stuff planted, and then a ginormous, hugely intense thunderstorm struck. Sheets of rain blustering straight sideways, trees bending, thunder and lightning a-plenty. The poor little chickens either forgot about going inside or didn’t realize it was dry in there, because they were all huddled under this small plank to stay out of it when I went out to make sure they were ok. I picked two up and put them inside, and they came right back out again. Alas. Silly chickens.
At any rate, I am out of spoons for the day. I got all my beans planted, as well as some sunflowers and nasturtiums. The storm doesn’t seem to have washed anything away, although there’s a bunch of standing water in the garden – I don’t imagine things like the peppers are happy. Ah well – one step at a time.