There is nothing that seems like more of a waste of time in the world than pullin’ weeds! If you’ve ever worked for a Grounds Crew or Landscaper, we all know that this task is reserved for the grunts & freshmen. The typical, “I don’t have anything for you to do, so go break your back pulling weeds and let me know when you’re done”. Almost always confusing you, thinking that was the secret maintenance signal to go “get lost” & come back before lunch. But I digress…
As a gardener, weeding is viewed through a much different lens – but not too different, bottom line is that it still sucks! Weeding left undone will only continue to multiply, so as hard as this is to do, just keep on it every single day or pick a couple days a week to dedicate to the sacred art. When they start poppin’ up, it doesn’t seem like a big deal – but you also don’t think you need a haircut until you already look like one of the Beatles.
- Weed Barrier Fabric – There are so many options in this category. Woven & non-woven ground covers are pretty ideal because they will allow water & nutrients to pass through them while suppressing weed growth. This eliminates the need for installing irrigation, although adding that to the garden is never a bad idea! Plastic mulch will suppress weeds while helping retain soil heat & moisture. You may be able to water the plants @ their bases, but irrigation in the form of soaker hoses or drip irrigation would be much more ideal (article coming soon on irrigation in the garden). Biodegradable paper mulch is the last fabric-type of product that I have heard of. This is basically kraft paper & works to suppress weeds through a more natural means. Over the season it will begin to breakdown & the great thing is the convenience of not having to remove it at the end of the season – a much more sustainable option with no waste!
- Mulch, Straw, and Rice Hulls – The first 2 options may look familiar, but you’re probably wondering what rice hulls are or could do for the garden – we’ll get there! With mulch & straw it is important to make sure you’re getting clean product with no viable weed seeds. Mulch should be free of dyes – this is not like your landscaping mulch. The point is for weed suppression & water retention, not necessarily the aesthetics of the color. I’ve never used straw, but with fellow gardeners I follow on Instagram, it seems to be working! My only worry would be the wind blowing straw away – anybody with experience, please comment & enlighten me! Rice Hulls are relatively new to the horticulture world, and most growers use them in pots, not necessarily on the ground. Since the hulls are parboiled, they are free of weed seeds, and they come in compressed bales of 7 or 30 cubic feet bags – so that would go a long ways in the garden! Basically the rice hulls will work in the same way as straw or mulch – suppressing weeds, but loose enough to allow air & moisture to pass through.
- Square Foot Gardening – I try to plant things as close as possible, so that I can get as much food as possible, plus the dense planting proximity will help suppress the weeds. This year I had a bed planted with garlic bulbils (Bulbils form when a garlic scape is allowed to mature & they take a couple years to mature). Since the bulbils grow very thin, I also had a ton of weeds popping up. Once Kyla & I pulled the weeds, we planted Tomatoes & Lettuce in any possible open spots. It’s working well so far & I’ve been pulling weeds as I prune the tomato plants – luckily I have ground cover or plastic mulch on my other beds & won’t have to do much weeding there!
- Harvest the Weeds – Believe it or not, a lot of ‘weeds’ are nutritious & some are even considered ‘superfoods’. Here is a link to flowers & weeds that you can harvest & eat: 13 Edible Weeds and Flowers.
- Water & Pull – This is the good ole-fashioned way to garden. Water your plants and then go down the rows & get to pullin’! Weed-pulling while the ground is soft is optimal because the weeds will easily uproot.
Last night I had a vivid dream that I was able to remember – at least a picture & a thought from it. In my dream, my backyard garden was completely covered with a spiderweb-like substance. It really reminded me of a mold or fungus – and I remember thinking this was a great thing in my dream; in my mind it was Mycorrhizae, a fungus that grows within the roots of a plant in a symbiotic relationship helping plants with uptake of nutrients.
Why would I dream such an awkward & nerdy scenario? And why did this stand out to me as a dream I could actually remember & recall later in the day?
Over the past few months/weeks/days I have made monumental shifts in my normal way of living; I have tried to expand my output from the norms of work, weight lifting, yoga/stretching/maintenance, and gardening to opening up & actually publishing articles that I start working on. In this shift of developing my writing, perhaps it feels like my foci have changed; like I’ve left the garden to sprout weeds in favor of a more glamorous hobby.
And perhaps that Mycorrhizae in my dreams are just the figurative cobwebs of my garden’s progress so far this year.
Last year I listened to my Googled sources that the last frost date in my area was April 20th & my tomatoes paid the price, but this year I listened to local legend & am waiting for Mother’s Day, May 14th. There was a last frost date map I saw that drew a line just a few blocks from my current location – basically half of my city could plant 4/20 & the others couldn’t until 5/10. But that’s what to expect in Ohio, especially living near the northern tip of the Ohio Valley.
So, this weekend we will be brushing the cobwebs off the gardens & begin planting everything I’ve been patiently waiting to plop in the plot:
- Roma Tomatoes
- San Marzano Tomatoes
- Green Peppers
- Mini Sweet Peppers
- And my favorite – Habaneros
Once you plant plugs out – things get real. The bugs comes alive, the birds start raiding your strawberry stash, dogs are squeezing into your Fort Knox Fencing – and everything is starting to grow; that’s the best struggle of all to facilitate, but I’m feeling super confident about this year! I started seedlings a couple months ago & have actually kept everything alive. All of the above listed crops were sown from seed & doing amazingly so far.
The big differences this year for me are:
- Follow Through
- Daily Maintenance & Watering
- Used Seedling Heat Mats in Winter
- Low Doses of Fertilizer w/ Watering
- Eyes on prepping for the Farmers Market
The weather has been a little crazy this spring, but it’s starting to stabilize & soon I’ll be picking tomatoes, peppers, onions & herbs, posting pictures of my girlfriend’s world-famous pico – Pico de Kyla 🙂
Don’t let your garden dreams grow cobwebs! Brush them off because it is not too late – spring is just getting started and I can feel it… this is gonna be the best spring yet!