Monday, September 6, 2010

Deep down at the bottom we found a garden

As I promised, this weekend was THE weekend. The one where Farmer B and I tried to turn the thicket of shoulder-high weeds back into a garden. I have been dreading it since the beginning of the summer. I anticipated it being a horrible experience with oppressive heat and bugs... and holy heat wave - was I ever right.

Farmer B started by pulling up the anti-puppy fence that we keep around the garden and immediately both dogs dove in to the long grass. We ended up accidentally breaking the underground electric dog fence while pulling up the garden fence, which was an added bonus. Include an added trip to Home Depot to buy wire repairing equipment to this wonderful task.

Did I mention this weekend is Farmer B's birthday too? Yeah, he's a dedicated husband when it comes down to it.

Then Farmer B used the push trimmer to hack through the weeds in an attempt to find the raised beds. Surprisingly they were still under there - burried, but intact.

Did I mention how hot it was? Luckily the heat index was just UNDER 100 degrees so we didn't pass out, but contemplated it several times.

After he whacked down all the grass and weeds around the raised beds it was my fun-filled job to pull up the masses of weeds that had found a new home in the raised beds. As I was doing this with sweat running down my arms and spiders the size of cats running up my arms I really wondered if it was all going to be worthwhile at the end of the day.

When I got one bed about halfway cleared I decided to grab Clementine from the chicken run and toss her into the bed to save me from the creepy-crawlies who were hell-bent on latching on to my face as I pulled up 3-foot long weeds. My dainty (useless) yellow chicken spent 2 seconds in the blistering direct sun in the garden, made an angry bokking noise, then made a bee-line for the shady woody area all the way on the other side of the yard before I could even grab the camera. Pathetic chicken.

Then I decided to bring out Maggie and put her to work. I tossed her into the raised bed and went back to weeding. It worked out GREAT! She grabbed two large spiders and some wormy-leggy thing before becoming overwhelmed from the heat and making a bee-line to the same shady patch of trees where Clementine was relaxing.

Pathetic. Both of them.

At the end of the day I had a sore back, a visible garden area and one de-weeded raised bed. I was beyond exhausted, but felt good that it was done… but felt angry that I still had the other bed to clear.

On Day 2 I returned to the garden (sans useless sun-shy chickens) and pulled the weeds out of the second bed. I was happy to see that the spiders were just as comfortable in this bed as they were in the other one. I was a bit afraid that some big-fanged 8-legged creature might not ruin my day by jumping at my arm. Luckily my fear was unwarranted.

I did find something very interesting buried in this bed though…

Carrots! Who knew? I didn't attempt to bring them inside since I'm sure they were woody and rubbery and weird, but it was a funny thing to see growing amongst the weeds.

At the end of day two, it was done. A weedless garden. Two weedless raised beds. Finally.

I figured that when I was done I'd have one of those "See what you get for not weeding all summer?" moments. I was wrong. Instead I had a "Gah - this was HORRIBLE - THIS is why I didn't go out into the garden all summer" moments.

I'm now faced with a couple of problems.

1) I'm convinced that these beds are now full of weed seeds just ready to sprout at their first opportunity. I'm not sure quite what to do about that. I do not have the resources to empty out the beds and buy all new compost, peat moss and vermiculite. So I'll have to think on this one since I did want to try a Fall planting…

2) I now have about 3 inches less of mix in the boxes as I did when I started. Regardless of what I decide, the boxes will have to be topped up in a big way before I ever plant again.

So there you have it. As my dad would say "Good job done." As I would say after doing this "@$%^ job done!"


Erin said...

Wow, that's dedication! Wonderful before and after pics. You might want to get a stirrup hoe, although you would have to take the grid off the beds to use it easily, but spending a minute every few days with the stirrup hoe will get those weed seeds at the sprout stage an you'll never have to bend over. Good job, I don't envy you in the heat - and don't feel bad, my asparagus bed looks like that!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Kate,
I'm proud of you for getting the weeds out of the raised beds. You may not like my solution to your problem, but I'll give it anyway. If you go out for 10 minutes a day, you could get the weeds out before they get big and take over. I don't have raised beds, and don't make it out every day, but do hoe often enough to keep most of the weeds from blooming.

Happy birthday to Farmer B.

Ribbit said...

Wow! You did have your work cut out for you. However, your job will pay off. This is the time of year your garden can shine and put us all to shame. It's fantastic!

Aila said...

One option for the weed seeds might be soil solarization, I think it mostly involves covering the soil with a clear plastic sheet then letting the sun do all the work. The big advantage is minimal work on your part, the disadvantage is that it takes several weeks for the process to finish. Just a thought. (^:

thyme2garden said...

That was a lot of work you and your husband did there, and although I felt your pain in the heat and all, I have to tell you that I really enjoyed reading this post. Because it was very well-written, not because I'm a meanie who enjoys schadenfreude. :) I don't know how you can de-weed the sfg boxes other than just pulling whatever comes up, but I do hope that you can reuse the boxes for fall planting somehow!

Darla said...

Looks so much better and I know you feel better because of it.

daisy g said...

Good on 'ya! When you're sampling your wonderful fall veggies, you'll know it was well worth it! daisy

Kelly said...

The weed seeds in the top inch of soil will germinate soon. If you allow them to grow, and then weed/hoe and don't disturb what is underneath that will take care of many of the future weeds.

The solarization is also a great idea if you want to leave the beds for a while, which it sounds as though you may.

Carolyn ♥ said...

I enjoyed reading your post, brought back so many memories... all of them exhausting! I now live by the rule: NEVER let a weed go to seed in your garden. After living here seven years we only spend about a half-hour each week scuffing or pulling any weed seedlings from our half acre. It took me 25 years of gardening to figure out that no weed to seed rule... give it a try.

Steve said...

My gardening adventures never seemed so easy!

I love the thought of your chickens as bug predators, that is pretty awesome!

Cheryl said...

What I'd do is put down a few layers of newspaper overlapping the edges so the box is completely covered wetting them down as you go and then add your additional materials on top. The newspaper and additional soil will block the light from the weed seeds so they don't germinate, and as time goes on the newspaper will disintegrate. To plant, just dig a hole through the newspaper. It won't solarize the soil so you can plant right away. The only weed seeds you'll have to deal with will be those from whatever you put on top of the newspaper.

Glad you're back.

Unknown said...

OK here is my two cents worth. Wet it down, cover with heavy clear plastic, weigh it down around the edged and SOLARIZE the soil for about 3 weeks if you have the time. it will kill off anything in those beds. till it up remove any roots and bingo you are good to go.

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