I have a few raised beds that I plant the “early” stuff in. Onions, garlic, spinach, lettuce these are usually my choices for my raised beds. About halfway through the summer I move my interest from the raised beds to the actual veggie garden. Consequentially, weeds start growing in the raised beds. This year I am going to remedy this problem. A few days ago, I planted my spinach and I am testing out a new technique. I am a little afraid… oh we will get to that later. Here is what I did.
First, I dumped in all the compost that I have left after my compost experiment (check out compost hits and misses). Yes, there are pieces in there. Some eggs, pumpkins with seeds, coffee filters, other odds and ends. No, it is not completely composted and that is ok because it will finish decomposing right there where it is. I have lots of worms in this bed.Next, I started applying mulch. This will stop any pumpkin seeds from germinating along with blocking any weeds from popping through. Then I took my pruning shears and cut 3 rows in the mulch. This took a little time and effort. I had to tuck, squeeze, and separate mulch as much as I could to make 3 distinct rows
- There is no way a single weed is getting through that mulch.
- I can use compost that is not completely decomposed.
- All the other benefits of having used mulch, soil moisture, hay will decompose and add to the fertile soil.
- I am worried that the seeds will be shaded too much by the mulch to germinate.
- I would have room for 4 rows of spinach instead of 3, without the mulch.
If it works, I will be thrilled and I can keep planting spinach and lettuce using those same rows. If it doesn’t work, I will have learned another gardening lesson (mulching seedlings is a must, mulching seeds does not work). You have to experiment sometimes. Whats a garden without an experiment or two in the works?
I will have an update soon!
The Farm Wife
If looking at your garden gives you a headache, then you probably won’t spend any time out there in the summer months. Garden aesthetics is very important to me. We all remember our moms yelling at us as kids to get our rooms clean. Then when she got tired enough of your room she would help you clean and get things organized. Maybe this is just me. Anyway, when your room was then clean and things like your socks and underwear were organized, all the sudden, you had a new appreciation for your space. You wanted to hang out, you wanted to do your homework on your desk, you wanted to play with all your stuff. Well, this is exactly how you will feel about your garden if the appropriate prep work is done in the spring.
Your family will be in your garden if it's a fun place to be.
Any time you can spend writing ideas down or thinking about your garden now will bring a smooth installation project come May. Think about plant placement. When thinking on plant placement ask yourself where your plants were last year and put them somewhere else. To help resist soil borne diseases, moving vegetables is a good first step.
I’ve touched on this a little in a previous post, the MOST IMPORTANT factor that will determine how much you will be weeding this summer is how much mulch you put on in the spring. The biggest concern I’ve heard and I guess I had before my mulching epiphany, was “if you mulch with grass hay won’t the seeds get into your garden?” There is a couple answers to that. First, results depend on your technique. If you mulch like you are shaking salt and pepper on your steak then yes, seeds will meet the soil and will germinate. I did the salt and pepper method so I am speaking from experience. I had a nice crop of oats in my vegetable garden that year. Of course I said “well this mulching idea is stupid, I’m not doing this again” Then I went back to my garden guru and said “ok, explain the mulch to me again, oh wise one.” When putting your mulch down, think more in terms of laying a barrier 4″ absolute minimum. My garden guru, Cathy, uses more like 6-8″. I probably use 4-6″ and that works well for me. There might be some reapplying during the summer. The other answer, involves when the hay was cut. The farmer and I cut grass hay in June. At that time, the grass has not gone to seed so there will be very little in terms of seed. If buying hay from a local farmer is your option ask what type of hay is it and when was it cut. Also give it a good look and smell. If you see seeds coming out of it that’s no big deal you are just going to need more because remember the barrier, if the seeds can’t germinate you don’t have a problem. Then smell just because hay smells good! It doesn’t have to be good hay. Actually, if you ask the farmer to give you his crapiest hay you might get it for free you just will need a lot of it.
Hay will break off in sections so take a section and just set it right down on the soil.
Doing just a little garden thinking and prep now can help you a lot down the line. Make it a place where you and your family want to spend some time this summer.
The Farm Wife