2016 Goals & Weeding: What Do They Have In Common?There’s no way 2016 objectives and weeding the garden have anything in common.  Maybe not from first glance but really they do.  I’ll get to what that is later on.  First, I want to share with you (because many have asked) our 2016 goals. We set our objectives for the year on New Year’s Day while on vacation on Hilton Head Island.  Does that seem like a long time ago to you?  It does to me.  Of course, it was June when I wrote this so six months have already passed way too quickly.
Here’s what we came up with for 2016:
  •      Conquer Paperwork/Filing
  •      Be more organized/plan more
  •      Clear clutter
  •      Coop & Chickens
  •      Pole Barn
  •      Lean to on garage
  •      Improve garden watering system – rely less on sprinklers
  •      Set-up water catchment
  •      New flooring for basement
I’m not going to tell you right now how we’re doing, you’ll have to wait until next year for that. It’s only six months away so I think you can handle the wait.
Still not seeing how goals and weeding have anything in common? I’ll get there soon.  I promise.
Recently I was out in the veggie garden weeding a section that was particularly weedy.  As I was sitting there on the ground pulling out more creeping Charlie and grass a few thoughts filtered thru my mind. First, it’s just not possible to not get dirty when gardening.  Those magazine articles with the pictures where the woman is wearing white pants while weeding and not a spec of dirt on said pants is just so unrealistic.  You all know what I’m talking about.  When I weed I’m literally sitting or kneeling on the ground pulling those bad boys out.  So by the end of the day my legs are covered in grass clippings or straw and dirt.  And it’s sweaty work.  Those women in the magazines look like they just came out of a salon.  So not the case here.  My face is all red and I’m dripping sweat despite many water breaks. It’s hot, sticky, dirty work.
Work that I could have avoided.  Ok, maybe not avoided but lessened dramatically. How so?  Well, I could have mulched this area in the fall.  Some good mulches that I’ve used are chopped leaves and straw.  Others that could be used are wood chips, cover crops, or grass clippings.  Mulching does a multitude of things from suppressing weeds to retaining moisture in the soil.  The reason I use leaves and straw is that I can easily get them either free or cheaply (well, the straw was cheap in previous years, not so this year.  Looking for a new source.) And because they break down fairly quickly, especially so in the case of the leaves, they don’t need to be rototilled in.  I don’t till for several reasons: I use raised rows and beds with permanent pathways so every bed and row doesn’t get compacted by walking on it, my soil has a clay base, and creeping Charlie. I in no way want to propagate many little new creeping Charlie plants (which is what would happen because it roots so easily) nor do I want to bring weed seeds in the existing soil to the surface.
Mulched vs Weeds 2
So instead of tilling every year, I typically mulch in the fall which then turns into organic matter. A win win for my garden: the leaves suppress weeds while at the same time feeding the soil.  Then in the spring, I can pull back the leaves to plant, then use those leaves to mulch around my veggie plants.  When I don’t have enough leaves I’ll use straw, although it doesn’t break down as quickly as leaves.
Are you seeing the commonality yet?  Maybe I’m stretching a bit, but, planning ahead is key to weeding.  When I mulch in the fall, weeding takes far less time than when I don’t mulch.  Below is an example of an area that was mulched next to an area that wasn’t.  See the difference there? So one thing I plan to do this fall is to mulch all my beds and raised rows.  It will save me hours in the spring.  If it weren’t for my Mom, daughter, and husband helping me weed this spring, I may not have gotten my plants in on time.  And yes, they all will reap the benefits of their hard work in the way of produce from the garden.
And wouldn’t you consider weeding clearing clutter from your garden?  🙂



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