Sunday, May 26, 2013

Me: 1 Weeds: 0

I removed a dead snake, dodged several (live) large spiders, and unearthed hundreds of worms. There's still dirt under my nails, and my jeans are ruined. If I were a 12 year old boy, I'd be in heaven. 

However, I'm not a boy or 12 years old. And, I'm not a happy gardener. I love the garden when it's all pretty and finished, but I complain and whine through the process of getting there. That being said, the storms finally subsided, and I managed to finish weeding and mulching my foundation garden - I'm DONE! But because I dislike gardening, I make sure I don't have to do it twice in one summer. Once is truly enough.

Weeding and mulching are the answer to a hassle-free garden for an entire summer. The mulch conserves moisture in the soil, which means you ultimately water less. It keeps down weeds, by eliminating sun light to the soil, and keeps the soil cool for your plant roots. PLUS, it makes your yard prettier in general. Mulching around trees simplifies mowing - and it keeps string trimmers (that's so formal, let's say "weed whackers"!) and lawn mowers away from tree trunks. This makes my husband, Big A, happy.

The first step with the garden is to weed. Weeding is my Room 101. As you may have guessed, I'm not into worms, spiders, or rotten leaves. I'm not very fond of getting dirty. But weeding each year is a necessary evil. I don't have any tips or tricks for weeding - it takes a lot of back breaking effort, plus a lot of time, and you get super dirty. Sorry.

Here's how to weed (a tutorial):

When you have a 5 year old to entertain while you weed, take heed: If you give him the hose to play with, he will soak the garden, and you will not only be weeding, you will be weeding on a mud slick.

Assuming you survive the weeding, the next step is to prevent future weeds. Spread your plant-free areas with newspaper, about 4 sheets thick. If it's windy, as you lay the paper down, wet it with the hose, or get some more exercise chasing it around the yard.

Once the newspaper is down it's time to mulch. The chart shows how much you will need.

            How much garden soil or mulch do I need?
Mulches should be applied at a 3" depth. Therefore, six 1 cubic foot bags will cover 24 square feet. This may be a little confusing, so, just ask at the store. I ended up needing 30 bags of mulch for my garden. You can do that math if you wish  - I prefer to save what little brain activity I have for trying not to get hurt while handling tools and such.
(Chart courtesy of Home Depot)

Once I had the mulch that I needed, I laid each bag along the edge of the garden, where I thought I would need it. (Just to save hauling it bag by bag from the truck while I was spreading.)

Spreading the mulch is easy. Just pour each bag where you think you're going to need it. Spread with the back side of the garden rake (not with the tines). Once it is spread out fairly well, it's easiest to finish spreading it up to the plants with your hands. Don't get the mulch near the base of the plant, leave a little room.

Now a couple of notes:

  • Putting untreated mulch up against your home’s foundation can lead to termite infestation. They are nasty. Make sure the untreated mulch is at least 12" away from your foundation. (We bought the treated mulch).

  • Don't pile mulch right up to tree trunks or plant bases.The mulch holds moisture against the trunk, and that makes a breeding ground for fungus (or is it fungi?), which can eat right through the bark and cause the tree to die. Mulch should never be closer than six inches to a trunk.

  • Mulch will last a summer or two, but isn't a permanent solution. All mulched areas should be renewed every couple of years by raking out the old material, re-spreading it thinly, and then covering it with fresh mulch.


With the garden done for this summer, I am so relieved. Now I can go back to painting things, and planting in containers! Phew!



Dana said...

What a great post! I am a big fan of mulch. I have mulched for years and I also add an under layer of alpaca droppings every couple of years. What a difference those layers make.

I use only one chemical...Preen. I have used it for 3 years. I am astounded that I virtually have no weeds anymore. I just don't put it near the vegetables.

Your pictures are beautiful!

Unknown said...

Hi Dana! I don't know if I can find alpaca droppings, but I will look into the Preen! The less I have to weed, the better!

Dana said...

Any composted material from any animal will work. Alpaca is good mainly in that it 'comes out' less hot than some animals. No matter... even mushroom is great. You will be amazed. I can't even tell you how great Preen is. COSTCO!! Best deal :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for the tips Dana! Definately looking for the Preen this week. I will keep you posted!

Kathy said...

Weeds they will be the death of me. Great post, I am going to check it out. Thanks Kathy