Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Let the Weeding Begin!

Garden Journal: April 23, 2008
A Weeding Meditation

Here is one view of the outside of the Elemental Garden in need of weeding. Off in the back right corner is a shed we constructed last year out of a piece of old fencing. This is where I keep my tools stored so it isn't necessary to run back and forth out of the garden. A piece of plastic tarp that was laying around was used for the top. Worked ok for last year, but this year we are headed for an upgrade. My husband has a piece of used roof from a golf cart that we will place over top. The advantage...we won't be sticking our head into the tarp with each entry into the shed.

Inside in the foreground is a wooden bench and anchored beside it on each side is a wooden trellis. Last year a clematis was planted at the base of each late in the season. So they have come back this year and are looking strong and healthy. Laying across the top are just bamboo poles sitting on the top of each trellis. The plan is to have the clematis grow strong and hardy up and across the trellis providing a natural bit of shade to sit under on the bench, as well as something beautiful to look at.

To the left and right of the bench I planted quite a few perennials last year that hopefully will make a strong return this spring. The paths were a challenge to keep weeded. Don't be fooled by those beautiful magazine photos! I have tried, unsuccessfully to discover the Lazy Gardener's Way to Weeding, and frankly, I don't think it exists. There are techniques that can be done to help make the task less labor intensive, but it will never be weed free by wishing.

So after many different ideas and approaches last year, I decided to work smart and settled on laying thick layers of newspaper and cardboard boxes down on the paths. This was then covered with pine bark nuggets. It blew my initial budget out of the water, with the purchase of the mulch, 'cause I was determined to do it for pennies, but like I said, I decided to play it smart which meant not being penny wise and dollar foolish. It overwintered well, and requires little in the way of maintenance at this point. This year the plan is to pull back some of the bark, add more cardboard and newspaper, then reapply the mulch.

One trick I learned was to have a big barrel of water beside me and soak the paper and cardboard before laying it down. This kept it in place and made it easier to work with. Also this approach has the benefit of recycling material as well as creating more of a barrier between the weeds and mulch. Weeds do make their way through, but hand picking regularly when the weeds are small and few in number keeps it manageable.

So the last few days I have been spending my time doing what I call Weeding Meditation. First I connect with the Deva of the Elemental Garden so we can work together and have asked to be guided and inspired as I do the clearing. This activity is helping me to empty my mind of all the clutter and baggage I am carrying around and get in tune with the energy of the land. This will help to set the foundation of what to plant and where to plant it once the weeds are clear.

I have already filled in the compost area rather fully and am asking for guidance and suggestions on how to get this compost down to a manageable useable state in just a few weeks.

( To the Left) This compost pile that runs the length of the outside of the garden fence, contains all the weeds, leaves and sticks from the various beds and gardens around the property. My husband, when I wasn't paying attention, put all this years compost on top of last years, now I need to go back and reassemble the compost I said, really no easy way... Guess I'll be doing Weeding Meditation alot longer than I originally had anticipated!

( To the Left) Here is one of the overflow compost piles that needs to be cut up into smaller pieces . This contains mostly cut off branches from shrubs and of course our Christmas Tree.

. And here is the rest of it.

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