Friday, May 14, 2010

Well, along with the amazing and awesome things that come out of my "gardening experience" I suppose I must tell you about the various failings and sheer idiocy it sometimes brings out in me. Luckily, though, these things affect no one but myself, so I can laugh at them and (hopefully) learn something in the process.

First, a no-no that I return to every year.... I plant too early. As soon as the first light zephyr of springs wafts across the land my brain reacts with, "Plants! Seeds! New Soil! NOW!!!" So. With my spring-time need for all things outdoors, my beds are tilled, the soil replenished, and plants and seeds in before you can say "Jack rabbit!" Which, of course, leads to this eventual outcome.... I lose some of my plants to the frost. I thought I was clear of that danger this year, but a sneaky cold spell just after the general safe date (Mother's Day) did claim some of the more tender plants. Most everything survived, and if I had took the weatherman's frost warning seriously I would not now have to trim the tops off all my tomatoes and peppers, or replant the beans. I could have prevented this with frost cloth, or the cheaper but more irritating solution - painter's plastic. The problem with covering your plants with plastic is that you have to drape it over in such a way that the plastic does not actually touch the plants. Otherwise the condensation on the inside of the temporary "greenhouse" will do just as much damage as the frost would.

Then there's the matter of the local wildlife. The first year I had a problem with the wild turkeys, which ate all of my tomatoes. (I had no vegetables the first year.) The next year, the chickens dug up all my onions and garlic and half of my beets. Then I built a fence which kept out the wildlife, but the deer still came and ate my sunflowers down from the top. So I had heard of using Irish Spring soap, just put it around and the deer won't come near it. I stuck some to my fence posts and sprinkled some chunks of soap around, and guess what? It worked! I never had a problem with deer again. (I can see why, though.... Irish Spring is rather potent smelling.)
This year it is voles. I still don't know how to get rid of the pesky buggers, but as the vegetation has been flourishing elsewhere they have been leaving my beds alone so for now I will just live and let live.

On a brighter note, I found a way to stop the grass and weeds from growing between my raised beds. Last year I had to make my way through a jungle to get to my veggies, not to mention the ticks and other pests living in the tall grass (which would seem to grow overnight as soon as I cut it). Anyway, like I said, I found a great way to stop this from happening....and it only cost me ten bucks and an afternoon. I picked up some cardboard boxes from the produce place and Pier 1 and opened them. These nice big sheets I layed in between the beds, covering all the ground. I then spread a nice thick layer of straw on top of the cardboard. (2 bales = approx. $10). Now I have no weeds or ticks to worry about, just nice clean walkways!

And my last worry (and most constant one) is about the weeds in the beds. I can't cover these with cardboard, so the only thing to do is pull them by hand! So I am now going to stop typing and go get down and dirty with the weeds....

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