By Julie Hawley
Boy, oh boy, things nearly got away from us here. In the garden, that is. You probably guessed it: the weeds!
Conditions in gardens this season have changed in nearly the blink of an eye. The late snows and then scorching temperatures in May have gotten our garden out of whack. During a typical spring, we are able to get seeds planted at a gradual pace. First lettuce, peas, cabbage, and kale; then beets, potatoes and carrots; finally the tomato and pepper plants.
But this year, by the time the gardens dried out and we prepared the soil, it felt like it was already getting late. I guess I shouldn't have worried, since most everything is now up and growing.
The problem here is that during the hot spell we were not willing to garden late in the day after work. As a result, the weeds took off right along with the vegetables. Usually we keep ahead of the weeds until the vegetables are tall enough so we can mulch around them to prevent the weeds from growing back. Not this year!
Finally, my husband and I had time and the weather cooperated, so we got after the weeds. We have not spent that much time crawling around on our hands and knees together since the grandchildren were babies! The weeds were pretty established so a hoe didn't finish the job. We used hand trowels and pulled buckets full of undesireable plants out of the garden.
Then we mulched. When I say mulch, I mean a lot of mulch. The leaves, pine straw, grass clippings, wood chips, whatever you use, much be piled on thick. Otherwise the pesky weeds just poke right back through. My husband took charge of the newly established strawberry patch and did a terrific job. The pop cans are hung there as a deterrent to whatever critter ate part of one strawberry plant. So far, they have worked.
Now that the gardens are mostly mulched, we don't anticipate much more weeding. Of course, a rogue weed will pop through now and then, but the lion's share of undesirable plants will turn yellow and die under the mulch. Thank goodness we acted in time, and the garden didn't completely go to the weeds!