Archive for the ‘weeds’ Category

Bale out Monday, October 11th, 2010

Having forgone lawn treatments this year and needing some major weed control I’d been wanting to get some straw bales. So far this seemed one of the best options. We’ve had a host of issues with other cheap, reuse/recycle strategies:

  • Newsprint – trying to lay this down in normal S.D. weather means the neighbors get a free subscription. If you don’t wet it or lay stones on it immediately the wind sweeps it right away.
  • Cardboard – have to dissect a cardboard box from tape, labels and then over lap them is difficult. Also difficult is cutting through them when you want to plant and forget trying to do a seed bed and use them for weed barrier. There is one place they work fairly well and that’s on paths. They are usually the right width and heavier than newsprint so they don’t readily blow away.
  • Grass clippings – these work pretty well but can mat-down so solidly that water simply runs off them. If you use any time of weed killer or fertilizer these can affect the plants you lay your clippings on. Fresh clippings can suck up the nitrogen from the ground as they break down. Depending on the time of year and how often you mow you might also end up with lots of weed seeds you are now sowing into your veggie or flower bed. Use them in your compost – with turning and proper heat it should kill most weed seeds and break the clippings down so they can release their nutrients.
  • Leaves – I do love leaves for amending soil but they aren’t good mulch – they work much better if dug into soil to lighten it up. If left on top they generally blow away. I have taken a bag of leaves (usually decorative pumpkin one) and after the holiday I’ve placed them directly on top of less-hardy plants to over winter them. Works wonders. Come spring just empty the bag into your compost or (for shame) haul away.
  • Hay – has a wealth of seeds and you’ll end up introducing very invasive, native pasture weeds. I used one bale and now have a bad problem with the sticky grass tails that embed themselves so badly in certain materials that I’ve had to throw clothes away.

For some reason straw (dried plant stalks) doesn’t have the problem hay does. A bale tends to break easily into 3-4″ layers that mostly stay put with a breeze (do not fluff it, leave it in its self-made layers when you lay it down) the weight and tightness help it stay put. It lets moisture in readily but impedes the evaporation process from heat and wind. It also keeps soil temps more moderate.It doesn’t look bad like newsprint and scruffy cardboard – if you want to get crazy (ha!) throw the straw over the newsprint our cardboard for extra weed protection. Our initial use will be to mulch the garlic The Hub put in, we should have a bumper crop next year.

We picked up 4 bales at the local farm/supply store and they were a mere $3.99 a bale and they were loaded for us.

Get your machetes out! Friday, July 9th, 2010

I stopped home on my break tonight to find The Hub up to his eyeballs in weeds and debris. He decided to once-a-month-warrior our garden back into submission. Our volunteer vines have blocked sun from a lot of our producers – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and potatoes. He thinned them a bit but they are still the Overlords of the Garden. Weeds are taking hold wherever they can and the only think hindering their growth are the Overlords. In his haste to wrangle the garden my sunflowers are no more – he claimed he couldn’t tell what was what (since everything was at the same height and the same color) ?! As I left to head back to work he was firing up the fire pit. Time to go over fire safety rules and how to dial 9-1-1 with the kiddos.

Crunch, munch and collect Friday, June 18th, 2010

Cerelia's spring veggies garden

So far my daughter’s garden has been getting the most action – harvest wise that is. The second wave of spinach is hopping up, the lettuce are starting to form heads – I keep thinning as they grow. The rainbow swisschard are starting to reach up to the sun and most recently the peas are popping. The carrots are steadily growing and will have the longest existence in the bed except for the errant Trollius we planted in it last year, when it only held flowers. We’d forgotten about it but my daughter found it early in the spring, dug it up and replanted it in nearly the same spot. The happy golden-yellow flower makes me smile every time.

We’ve made salad, dressed sandwiches with the leaf lettuce and spinach, sauteed some swisschard with olive oil and salt and the latest was a tuna casserole amended with chard and peas, which really put a freshness and crunch to a usually mushy, but comforting classic.

Another thing I’m looking to do this year to keep expenses down is to harvest some of my own seed (pea/bean/etc.). I’ve clipped a few articles on it so I’ll have to dig those out soon. In most cases you let the seeds ripen and start to dry on the plant, then cut off the seed head and lay it on newspaper or paper towel to let them dry more thoroughly. Next loosen the seed or pop open the pea/bean and store in envelopes in a cool dry place or in your fridge.

I’m so glad for the regular rains still but I need to NEED TO get some weeding done. I broke down the other night and weeded one bed in the dark – I only lost one little swisschard plant and a whole lot of crab grass.

Bedding down Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

raised garden beds

It’s June 1 and most of the garden is in. The Hubs is supposed to turn a corner of it yet for squash, pumpkin and beans.

In the 3 raised beds:

  1. Onions (Vidalia & Walla Walla?), buttercrunch head lettuce, Okra and soybean (edamame).
  2. Tomatoes, 8 (or whatever seedling survivors I had), purple basil, globe basil, parsley seeds.
  3. Peppers, 6 (some hot, some not?), with a little room leftover to plant . . . ?

The other ground level part of the garden has potatoes (red and yellow), watermelon, cucumber, louffa gourd and a couple volunteer squash/pumpkin (it’s fun to see what makes it through on Mother Nature Alone).

It my daughters bed we’ve been able to harvest radishes and a few salads worth of spinach. The sweet peas, chard and carrots are coming up too, along with a few more heads of buttercrunch.

What I’m concentrating on this year:

  • Weeding a little every day. My scuffle hoe is the best with little weeds, it just scrapes them to smithereens.
  • Sowing, planting in succession. Staggering planting times helps stagger harvest times too.
  • Thinning. Hadn’t done a lot in the past but it really helps with plant health, shape, harvest and weeding. So I’ve kept a buffer zone in between plants.
  • Turning the compost. I usually go with a long composting schedule – I just let it lay and only use it once a year. This year I’m trying to increase its turnover by actually turning it. The better circulation increases it’s breakdown speed.
Rain coming, again Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Yesterday was the first time I’ve really gotten out to weed this week. I finished my daughter’s bed which was quite easy. I’m really thinking all of my gardens should be raised beds. Then I moved onto my veggie patch. I knew I didn’t have long – the kiddos were melting and the skeeters were out (even with spray) so I concentrated on the bases around my veggies – just to make them stand out a bit more. It’s like a little mower went around each onion, tomato, pepper and garlic plant. My 3 sisters patch is another story – all of the wicked step-sisters have shown up: Thistle, Creepy Jenny and Dandy Lyon. Man I hate those b@#$%. Hopefully I’ll get out there a bit tomorrow as I work the holiday weekend. But the forecast calls for some rain.  And there are reunions and showers and pool parties and OMG, it’s JULY!!

1 month Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I want to do a little comparison with our one raised bed. Almost exactly a month ago it was planted. Disclaimer: yes, I know, for the love of weeds!!! I need to get out there and pull. I swear this all happened in this last week of rain. The weekend was nice, but way too busy – all I managed to do was mow the front yard, that’s it. But i’m happy I did not have to water.cereliagarden5-2009cereliagarden6-2009

This is the reward of gardening. This raised bed is my, now 5-yr-old, daughter’s. When she wanted to plant seeds, I let her go (lettuce, radish). When we were at the nursery, I let her pick up whatever variety of flowers she liked (nemesia, double petunias, heliotrope, trollius). Then, the eggplant happened in there because it couldn’t find a home anywhere else. There are also a couple volunteer tomatoes from using our homemade compost. MishMash would be the appropriate term I believe.

Ready, Set, RoundUp – or not Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
Best weed tool

Best weed tool

The weeds are up as high as my plants and I have RoundUp on my mind. Soil around here is so hard and clay that to pull weeds in unturned earth is next to impossible. More often than not the crown is left and only the leaves and stems rip off begrudgingly.

For those not wanting to use chemicals of any sort there are still a couple options. A garden fork is one of my faves. I’m not talking pitch-fork or it’s heavier tined cousin. A weed fork/cutter/popper is a long headed instrument with an inverted V-shaped notch in the end. Stick the V down right next to the weed an inch or two down and lever it back — the weed will pop right up with crown intact. Getting the crown is most important with most weeds. If the crown stays in contact with dirt it will simply send up new shoots. I have a long handled and short handled version of this tool it also works well to plant small bulbs and annual plugs.

Another non-chemical option for weed control is straight vinegar. Just put it in a spray bottle or using a sponge brush and spray or brush on the encroaching weed. This works the best on a hot day – really helps to burn the plant back. It won’t be quite as effective as RoundUp on large weeds but it’s something to try if you want to stay chemical free.

Finally, some tips on using RoundUp. Avoid spraying on a windy day. RoundUp becomes inert quickly – once it hits the ground. Guard plants by either putting a plastic bag over them or shield with a piece of cardboard from drifts as you go along. Always follow the instructions and never mix more than you will use or in a higher concentration than the directions say. Better yet, buy the handy pre-mixed. MORE IS NOT BETTER. Masks and long pants, shirt and shoes are a very good idea. Always store chemicals out of reach from kids and animals.

sMothering Friday, April 17th, 2009

It’s major cleanup time around here. I didn’t get much done last fall. Seems it’s much easier to cut down and rake out dead, crispy garden debris now than it would have then. I was elated when the snow glossed over the mess like a great icing job on a lopsided cake.

But now, it’s the start of a new year. My hopes are usually high this time of year, the become less so every spring with the wisdom I’ve gained during the past 6 summer on this lot. I know not to get too gung ho anymore.

Today I set about with a heavy short-tined rake and scraped out what I could, trimmed down perennials that start from the ground and grasses. Then I set about with a large newspaper end roll and layed down multiple layers around the perrenials I remembered. If I lose some, oh well. This will then get covered with a generous helping of wood mulch – though I may try coco chips next to the house, there are termites in our area so I don’t want to line a buffet up straight to my front door.

This layering of newsprint and mulch should help stifle the weed growth. I can’t believe how many are up already!

So far a see nubbins of: baptisia, mini stella d’oro, iris, hosta, tulips and grape hyacinths in my perennial border.