Of all the things I talked about working on over my “break” a couple of weeks ago, the vegetable garden was noticeably absent.
Or, as I’ve been referring to it for the last two years, “that damned vegetable garden.”
Technically it’s an awesome vegetable garden in that it always produces vegetables. (And I make delicious food from those vegetables.) But every spring I feel like I’m faced with some insurmountable issues in the garden…
By “insurmountable issues” I mean “weeds”, obviously.
I’m not even swearing, that’s the actual name of this weed that has invaded everything. Bull thistle. It sounds appropriate. Every time I go out to the garden I can shout, “This is serious BULL THISTLE!” and, yeah, totally accurate.
So, first, let me talk about the awesome part of this garden… the part that actually works.
They’re amazing. Good soil, easy to amend with compost, easy to plant and to weed. It’s also easy to control any weeds between them on the gravel walkways because I spray them.
(Side note: Every time I talk about weeds on this website I have to make a decision about omitting the fact that I spray things–walkways and the gravel part of my driveway–or, if I do mention it, potentially injuring myself from how hard I roll my eyes when someone recommends “industrial strength vinegar” to me in the comments. Which happens without fail, every time. Guys, I’m not looking for advice on this particular thing… I’ve figured out what works for me on my property through four years of trial and error and stress and spending a fair amount of money re-graveling things. The reason I do mention it is because I’m not trying to pretend that I live in a magical weed-free zone where parts of my property look pristine–ha!–with very little work from me. Or that layers of cardboard and weed fabric under gravel are the end-all-be-all of weed management. They aren’t. I spray a minimal amount of things on this property with year-long weed killer, and you can bet your ass I’m respectful of my bees and the food I’m going to eat when I do so. But, frankly, vinegar of any strength ain’t gonna cut it around here. And that is the last time I’m going going to explain why I spray shit on my property in a post on this website.)
So, anyway… the raised beds and walkways in the garden are working beautifully. Getting those beds and walkways in to place on the “wild” side of the garden is another matter entirely. Just for context, six weeks ago I took these five beds out and re-positioned them (since I’d measured incorrectly last year and it was driving me nuts.) This is what the untamed half of the garden looked like back then:
I got all five beds in, and then turned my attention to things like planting a bunch of grapevines, until last weekend when– in what seemed like the blink of an eye– I walk out to the garden and see this…
This is why in early spring a lot of my life outside of work goes on the back-burner and all of my spare time becomes fully focused on maintaining this property. Because in a very short period of time, it can get… overwhelmingly out of hand.
For reference, here’s the garden I’ve been picturing in my head for the last three years…
And here is what it actually looks like…
Also, after years of fighting with the weed whacker, two weeks ago I officially pronounced it dead. I struggled with it for a good hour in the morning, and then walked out the garden where my mom was weeding by hand and when I told her, she said confidently and flippantly, “Oh don’t worry, we don’t need it.”
Oh. We don’t?? (That is literally what I was looking at when she said that.)
So. I took a deep breath. (Mothers do know best, after all.) And then I picked up my garden shears and started cutting down all these weeds by hand. (My mom used a shovel.)
It turns out you can make a fair amount of progress by hand when you aren’t swearing at a weed whacker all day.
Over the last week I promised myself an hour working out in the garden or on the farm every night to try to make some progress. Turns out, it worked…
Well, “worked” as in I can see the raised beds again. And there’s cardboard down to kill the weeds around the border gardens, with some fill dirt ready to spread on top of them.
And oh, hey, look. I found the basil and sage.
Technically I’ve got 4 more beds to put in and gravel to shovel between them, and then, finally, the garden will be ready for the greenhouse. But, since it is spring, I’ve still got to divide my time between this project, and a few others that are going on around out here…
I’ll get it all under control soon though (as long as I keep telling myself that, right?)