We had a big weekend in the vegetable garden, especially when you consider that we aren’t gardening with the usual level of intensity. Bad management last fall meant the beds had become pretty weedy and needed some work before we could plant. Sigh. Remind me to be better about this, OK?
The first order of business was to get the weedy paths under control. Dan did a great job of weed whacking and weeding the paths, and we then laid down scrap pieces of plywood we have been scavenging from the town recycling/waste transfer station (aka the Dump). We had quite a bit of board but there are still places that will need other mulch over the summer. We have some spoiled hay from the hen dome and will probably use that for the remaining spots.
Once that was done, we commenced working on the beds, loosening the soil with the broadfork and picking out the weeds. Once the bed was done, I laid down Planter’s Paper mulch for weed control. I really like the results I get with the solar mulch, but since the plants will be on their own for water this summer, I thought the Planter’s Paper would allow moisture to penetrate, yet would still keep the weeds down and warm the soil a bit. The paper covered the tomato and pepper beds, and I have a bit left I can use under some of the squash.
While I laid down the paper, Dan pulled the remaining dried tomato vines off the cages. The tomatoes got so disgusting last year once the late blight hit, I couldn’t face pulling the plants so I left them in place to degrade over the winter — bad practice, I know, but perfect is the enemy of me. By now, the vines were dry and brittle, and pulled off the cages easily. Moving the cages, Dan could see how effective the solar mulch was at keeping the weeds down. With the exception of my evil nemesis Creeping Charlie, which seems to have no barrier it cannot surpass, the weeds were few and far between, mostly located where the planting holes had been. Dan also noticed the mulch was still in fairly good condition, so we decided we will reuse it for squash, planting in the former tomato holes.
Neither the Planters Paper nor the solar mulch, will completely cover the width of the bed, so the rest of the beds will get a layer of newspaper and spoiled hay. All is ready now for the plants, but the forecasted cloudy weather did not materialize, and it was too hot to plant so the plants await better transplant conditions.
With a bunch of healthy looking tomato and pepper plants awaiting their time in the sun, I hope we can get it all done.