The hour-per-day gardening project is through mid-summer. Daily temps have come down to the mid-80°Fs, and regular rain is back. The weeds seem to be winning the battle, even in the plot where I used cardboard sheet mulch. My theory is that the wet spring rotted the cardboard quickly and then the weeds were able to grow through the layer.
The Neighbor’s Plot
I haven’t been able to get to the neighbor’s plot as often as I’d like. It is beyond the reach of my baby monitor, so I can only get there when my partner is home to watch the kid. When I do get there, I’m busy weeding. I also mowed down about half of the space that was done growing: oat and pea field. The peas suffered from high heat just as they were about to make pods, so the yield was meager. At least the soil was enriched.
The seed flax are ready for harvest. The beans are starting to produce but are choked by weeds. Amaranth has emerged and is thriving. The corn has tasseled and is producing big, fat ears. And the sunflowers are awaiting harvest.
Another problem has been rain keeping things damp.
Weeding continues to be the name of the game. This has made me think more carefully about spring bed preparation. I tried to prep beds by laying down cardboard last fall, but by the spring, this had disintegrated and weeds proliferated. In the plots where I added cardboard this spring, the weeds are noticeably less. My goal is to stockpile cardboard all winter and then smother everything next spring. After two or three years of doing this, the weed seeds have exhausted themselves and annual smothering is not needed.
I’ve been pulling weeds and piling them onto cardboard over new bed spaces at a depth of 9–12 in. This smothers the weeds below and provides some rotting organic matter. The trick is to be sure the weeds haven’t gone to seed.
I’ve been busy in the berry patch. Our strawberries were eaten by chipmunks or something this spring, so I built strawberry beds with built-in netting. I used 2-×-4-in lumber to create beds measuring 8 × 1.5 ft. I then stapled 2-ft-high chicken wire to the edges. The top of the wire can be pinned together to keep critters out but allows easy access. Then three strawberry plants were put in to allow for plenty of expansion.
I also added a sturdier raspberry trellis and pruned out this year’s canes, which are done producing. The trellis is made of tension wire for chain-linked fence attached to posts 5 ft above the ground. The old canes are cut out and the new canes (which produce next year) are pruned at 5.5 ft high and attached to the trellis. They will then send out copious side shoots, which I’ll trim to 2 ft long later in the fall. This concentrates all the growing power into a smaller space and makes harvesting easy. It also gets the raspberries off the ground to help reduce infections.
We’ve also gotten our first new potatoes. They’re a welcome change after months without tubers. The fingerling potatoes are the first to be ready and the rest have survived the potato-beetle onslaught.
The new chickens are getting big. The hens should start laying soon and the three roosters have begun to crow — awkwardly. We’ll keep one of the roosters, as long as he is not aggressive. I have seen the barred rock rooster mounting and mating with our adult hens, which is a good sign of flock cohesion, I suppose.
Since the last post, I’ve worked 1:13 hours per day thanks to the push from the garden tour last Sunday. The overall seasonal average is now 46 minutes per day. I’m going to have to step it up to an hour a day.