Sunday, February 27, 2011

A plan and a thank you!

I really can't thank you all enough for giving me so many tips on what to do to kickstart my garden for the Spring planting season. I read through all the comments (and the emails I received) and have come up with a plan.

I'm going to remove the dirt from box 1 and shovel it into box 2. Anything that doesn't fit will go into our wheelbarrow. Then I'm going to use the Devil's Urine itself (Roundup) to spray a kill-zone under the area where the box sits. I'm going to put down a new piece of useless landscaping cloth (because I still have some and feel better using it up) and then I'm going to put down some large sheets of cardboard (that Farmer B was nice enough to drag home last night). Then I'm going to put the soil back in, top it up with compost and wash, rinse, repeat on the other box.

The final step to my plan is to buy some stepping stones from Home Depot and place them around the garden as tightly as possible. I realize this is futile because they won't fit perfectly and grass will grow up between them, but the fact that we have thick weeds and grass butting right up against the raised beds can't be good. I figure if the stepping stones at least reduces this by 50% it's a step in the right direction.

I don't know if this is the best plan, but I do know it's at least a plan that's heading me in the right direction. I hope to get it done today and tomorrow, but I'm allowing myself the entire week to pull this off.

Thanks again for all your wonderful tips and advice!!!

Here's a photo of Saffie that I took this morning out at the garden. She's ready for me to be back out there too!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm back, I'm dirty and I need help...

I realize I've been gone for a really long time and the list of excuses is long and irrelevant. However, the main reason for my absence is a gardening dilemma that I don't know how to fix. The good news is I've decided to return to the soil and find a way to make it work - even if it's far from perfect.

Here's my grubby garden-loved hand yesterday!

If you've been a long-time reader, you might recall how I let the garden go last summer because it just got too hot and rainy to go out there and weed everyday. One day away from the garden led to a week that led to the entire summer and next thing I knew I couldn't even see my once gorgeous raised beds.

When we finally cleared it out, I discovered - to my horror - that the weeds had gone to seed and my wonderful "Mel's Mix" soil was full of weed seeds. About two weeks after that long weekend back in September of clearing out the weeds I noticed the beds were green again - filled with hundreds upon hundreds of tiny evil weeds.

So I gave up and let the garden go again. You need to know I'm not proud to admit this, but it's what happened and it's time I came clean. It was easy to give up in the late fall. I'd already missed the Fall planting season, we were busy with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and then we had a small stretch of cold weather that wasn't good for planting anyway.

Then January rolled around and ever since I started this blog I've always been AWOL in January. It's a month full of birthday parties for our family and it's easy to forget the garden.

But then February rolled around and I looked over at my once-loved garden and thought it's about damn time I roll up my sleeves and figure this monster out. If not, I'm one of those annoying people that "dabbled in gardening" as a hobby and let it go, like quitting scrapbooking or knitting or something. That was never my intention. This garden wasn't meant to be a fad. It was meant to feed my family.

So I went out there and cleared the garden - again. Luckily it wasn't quite so bad this time around. The problem is that I have evil thick Florida grass growing straight through the landscaping cloth at the bottom of the beds. Let this be a lesson to new Florida gardeners - no matter what people tell you and no matter what it says in Mel's SFG book, one sheet of landscaping cloth WILL NOT protect your garden from thick Florida grass and weeds growing straight up through the bottom of your garden.

Farmer B was frustrated that we have bare patches in the yard where grass will not grow, but underneath our gardening beds - underneath landscaping cloth - removed from the sun and air, we have thick grass growing like gangbusters.

I know this photo isn't a good one, but it's the bottom of the garden and you can see some of the thick grass roots growing straight up through the cloth. The grass roots pierced the landscaping cloth like ice picks. It's really quite remarkable. This has happened all throughout the beds. You have to imagine that on the ends of each of these little shoots were 3-5 feet of long thick grass snaking throughout the garden.

So now I have to decide what to do. As far as I can tell I have three options:

1) Spray the garden with Roundup Weed and Grass killer. This will hopefully remove the grass and weeds and give me a fresh start. The problem with that is I know too much about the evils of Monsanto and don't want my family to eat vegetables that have been grown in soil doused in those chemicals. But I know if I don't find a way to get rid of the grass and weeds I won't be able to grow vegetables in it anyway.

2) Remove all the soil from the beds, lay down something a lot hardier than landscaping cloth - some sort of Kevlar bullet-proof vest material - and then put the soil back in. I mentioned this to Farmer B who gave me the "you're on your own with this crazy scheme" speech. I'll be honest, it does seem like an insane amount of work, but maybe it is the way to go. I'm not sure what I should put down under the beds if I do this. Although it won't help me with the problem of all the weed seeds that are obviously in the soil.

3) Just add some compost to the garden, try to stay on top of the weeds and wing it. This seems like the most likely option, but I'm afraid that the thick grass coming through EVERYWHERE and all the weed seeds will make it too hard for me to stay on top of things and I'll be right back where I was last September.

Anyone else got an option for me? I really want to plant again...I'm in. I'm committed, but I don't know the "cure" for what ails my garden.
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