Sunday, May 3, 2009

Railroading the Weeds

I wanted to spread mulch yesterday -- to smell the hemlock (which makes a yard seem so organized and well tended) and keep the weeds at bay in the beds I've cleared. But there is a bigger priority back behind the barn: the vegetable garden, where weeds love the lack of competition in the spring. If I don't tackle it now, they'll be a foot high when I'm ready to plant in a few weeks. I know because this has happened the past two years in a row.

I have four can't-do-without weeding tools:

1) A hori hori knife. This thing readily removes weeds and rocks. While I've never timed myself (because that would be weird), I'm sure this thing cuts hours off weeding time:

2) A tubtrug. In this, I carry the weeds to the compost pile. I have about five of them and use them for any number of things. Max uses them to pick up pine cones from the yard. (I pay him $1 a bucket.) My friend Michelle uses hers for laundry. I purchase mine at the Gardener's Supply Company.

3) and 4) Gloves and a kneeling mat. These go without saying.

So I weeded Phase 1 of the vegetable beds yesterday. Satisfyingly so. We made this bed about three years ago. I've mulched it with wood chips and straw over the years, which we've just integrated into the bed, and the soil is rich and loose. I'll probably plant potatoes (soon) and corn in this section, with cukes and possibly squash and melons under the corn.

Once the weeks are pulled, I have a small, handheld electric tiller that I run through the top five or so inches of soil to discourage any other weeds from setting up shop there, like in this bed, Phase 2 of my spring weeding challenge:

Phase 3 is an overwhelming work in progress. It's a five-foot wide swath of thick, healthy grass between Phase 1 and Phase 2. I'd love to spray it with Roundup, but I'm sure that will somehow contribute to the honeybees' Colony Collapse Disorder. So we're going to do this the natural way:

I'm not sure we'll use this section this year. It may just be a work in progress.

At this point in the season, very early May, it's hard to have patience in terms of planting when your dirt is ready. I will likely put a few hearty spring seeds in soon -- peas, lettuce, beets. But everything else needs to wait until Memorial Day -- the when threat of frost is usually/finally over and the real gardening begins.

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