Easier Weeding

I haven’t had time to post lately. This has been a very busy summer, made busier since my mom broke her arm, and I have been trying to help her and my dad during this time.

As I worked outside, yesterday, weeding the grass out of my daylilies…

daylilies

Daylilies

and hydrangea bushes

Before weeding

Before weeding

After weeding

After weeding

I kept thinking… there has been nothing to this summer except weeding, weeding, and more weeding. I even weeded my mom’s flower beds for her last week, while my husband and dad worked to build and install a cover over the area where she fell and broke her arm.

With all the weeding there is to do, I have had to come up with an easier solution, something that takes the load off and does not mean adding a lot of chemicals to the soil.

I had my husband buy some tarps and I placed them over the raised beds that are empty right now. Without the tarps, I would be growing beds of weeds.

Tarps over raised beds

Tarps over raised beds

I can also move the tarps around the garden to cover areas between the beds or in open areas. Since they are dark in color, when the hot summer heat hits them, the weeds practically melt away. It is also a good way to heat up the soil and kill any pests that are trying to live there.

When we removed our pool cover this year, my husband decided we needed a new one for next year, so I recycled it into a weed killer :). I had planted corn in the very back of our garden, and was in the process of weeding, fertilizing, and hilling the soil up around it, when my mom broke her arm.

Weeding the corn

Weeding the corn in process

I never got the job finished and the corn was a total loss. I decide to use the pool cover to melt down the old stalks in the heat, turn them into compost, and kill all the weeds that had overgrown the patch.

Pool cover over corn stalks and weeds

Pool cover over corn stalks and weeds

Once a crop has completed producing, I plan to use a tarp over each bed and see if I can compost the old plants directly in the beds. My goal for next year is to become even more chemical free by making as much compost as I can and filling my beds with it, so I don’t have to rely on any chemical fertilizers.

So… if you are totally overwhelmed with weeding this summer, use tarps to cover the areas that don’t have plants you want to save. It is a good chemical free way to kill out the weeds and make the areas ready for new future crops.

Wisdom is good with an inheritance, and profitable to those who see the sun. For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.” Ecclesiastes 7:11-12

 

 

 

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Compost

I made a compost bin yesterday in a corner of the garden. If you read any books on composting, especially by men, they recommend making a bin from chicken wire. This contains the heap and allows for air circulation. There are other materials used for compost bins such as pallets, plastic, etc., but chicken wire is cheap.

I found two pieces of leftover chicken wire in our barn. They were the perfect size and I didn’t have to cut them. Since I am trying to save money in the garden, after the purchase of all the straw bales for my straw bale gardening experiment this year…

Strawberry plants in straw bales.

Straw bale garden.

I didn’t want to spend any money on the compost bin. I also wanted to get a good, hot compost bin going so that I won’t have to spend as much money next year on fertilizer, or other additions for my soil.

I used rebar hammered into the ground for the base. I added fiberglass tomato stakes over the rebar. They have a center hole that allows them to slide right over the rebar. I attached the chicken wire to the back side of our preexisting fence and the stakes with cable ties.

Chicken wire attached to fiberglass tomato stakes with cable ties.

Chicken wire attached to fiberglass tomato stakes with cable ties.

I then used a smaller piece of the chicken wire to make a “door” between the red post on the left side and the yellow post. I attached this piece to the yellow post with cable ties in several places, and when I want to open it to add wheelbarrow loads of weeds, grass, and leaves, it bends back and can be propped open.

To close the door, I hammered nails into a wooden tomato stake and bent them up. The chicken wire attaches over the nails and holds the “door” shut.

Nail holding "door" closed.

Nail holding “door” closed.

I had been weeding and the wheelbarrow fit right though the door area and was easily dumped.

I have been totally sold on making my own compost.

On Monday I planted okra. The bed I used had held tomato plants last summer. I had liberally mulched around the tomato plants with straw. In the fall when I planted this same bed with collards and kale, I left the straw in place and added garden soil over the top and planted  in that. When I started digging in this bed to get ready to plant the okra, I noticed that the straw underneath had greatly decomposed and the bed was full of the fattest earthworms I have ever seen. The soil was rich and black.

To plant the okra, I only added composted cow manure to the rows so the worms would not be harmed and left them to continue their composting of the straw, leaving behind their castings, which is the best fertilizer of all.

Are you composting to save money?

“He also took some of the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil. He placed it beside abundant waters; he set it like a willow.” Ezekiel 17:5 (NASB)

 

Thrift in the Garden

Yesterday I mowed grass. Before I started mowing, I wanted to complete another project. After our fence was installed around the garden, it left an area of bare red clay that was beginning to grow Bermuda grass and weeds. I hate both!

Red clay soil and weeds in front of fence.

Red clay soil and weeds in front of fence.

So I got out the tiller and worked on the area. Then raked it smooth.

Tiller

Tiller

I placed a layer of compost and covered it with mulch.

Compost and mulch in front of fence.

Compost and mulch in front of fence.

Now this is where the thrift comes in. I wanted dwarf yellow day lilies to line this fence. I knew it would cost a lot to buy enough flowers for this area. I decided to finish applying the compost and mulch and add the flowers later, when I could afford them.

My mom had given me one dwarf yellow day lily last year, and I had placed it in a large pot and left it at the greenhouse. I planned to use it in the front flower bed. When I removed the day lily from the pot, I found that it had multiplied and there were several small plants. I began to divide them and miracle of miracles, there was enough to make a row in front of the fence.

Day lillies.

Day lilies.

Day lilies now line the fence on both sides of the gate.

Using thrift in the garden helps you achieve more progress faster. Mulch and compost are expensive. Fences are expensive. When something comes to you for free, take advantage of it. Many flowers multiply and most gardeners are willing to share. I have traded seeds and plants with my father for years. My mom is constantly giving me a flower or herb, dug from her garden.

When you have large areas in the garden and yard to fill up, it is important to think of all the resources you have. I frequently divide my own flowers and move them to bare areas. I grow many of my vegetables and annual flowers from seeds.

I was very excited to be able to complete the area in front of the fence and not have to wait to buy flowers. It is wise to use the resources God provides for you with care.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10a)

Redesigning a Flower Bed…Phase Three to Completion

Today I will show you the completion of my flower bed redesign.

At this stage the flower bulbs and rhizomes had been dug out of the old bed. The old flower bed had been leveled with the existing yard, and compost had been mounded over the new site. The next step was to add mulch.

Mulch

Mulch

Lucy likes to "help"

Lucy likes to “help”

Lucy was there to “help”. She helps by watching me do the work.

I have to say that I do like to have her nearby, because she is very good at pointing out a snake. Years ago we had a very large copperhead in the garden. Lucy stayed her distance, but went crazy, circling and barking at the snake, until we came to see what she was upset about. I love having her with me when I am working.

The mulch pile was getting smaller.

The mulch pile was getting smaller.

Mulch covered flower bed

Mulch covered flower bed

Now, all I had to add were the flowers. In the past I have planted my flowers in rows or scattered together. This time I decided to plant groupings of flowers.

The flowers were in.

The flowers were in.

All the daffodils were together, as where the tulips, hyacinths, peonies, and crocus.

The completed flower bed.

The completed flower bed.

I have ordered more flowers that will be added when they arrive. I am also growing annuals in the greenhouse, which I will use to fill in areas after the bulbs stop blooming.

Lucy enjoying the final product.

Lucy enjoying the final product.

It is so much fun to step back and enjoy your final product after all that hard work. Lucy really knows how to relax!

I will show pictures of updates as the flowers bloom and more are added, so stay tuned.

Redesigning a Flower Bed Phase Two

Yesterday you saw phase one of the restructuring of my old flower bed. I had dug out all the flowers and used our tractor to level the land. I laid landscaping fabric next to the Dogwood tree, to block out the growth of old bermuda grass, then began checking prices for compost and mulch.

I found that you can buy regular compost made from composted horse manure, cow manure, and sawdust, or you can buy “organic” mulch made from composted cabbage and vegetation. Since this is for my flower garden I chose the manure compost. If I were buying for my garden then I would have chosen the composted vegetation. My husband pointed out that all compost is “organic”, meaning, it is just decomposed organic material.

Compost and mulch

Compost and mulch

I had a 1/2 truck load of compost delivered for $100.00 plus a delivery fee of $20.00. The mulch was $15.00 per scoop and I requested 4 scoops. The delivery fee of $20.00 brought the price of mulch to $80.00. These were great prices and the products delivered were the best quality I could find in this area.

After the delivery man saw my yard and noted I had another small flower bed in need of mulch, he threw on enough extra mulch to do that flower bed also, at no charge. I love working with people like this. They deliver an excellent product, then go out of their way to give even more than required. I will always go back to this landscaping supply lot in the future.

Moving compost

Time to move compost

As you can see by the shadows, my husband and I had to work late to move the compost onto the flower bed. As much as I hate the time change in the spring, it was a lifesaver on this day.

Compost on bed

Compost on bed

We were able to get all the compost moved. I had to wait until the next morning to snap this picture, since it was dark when we finished.

Compost on bed from another angle

Compost on bed from another angle

I tried to get a shape to the garden bed similar to a kidney bean shape. I have noted at the spring show, over the years, that the flower beds they replicate always have smooth rounded shapes, but are never left in boring rectangles, as I have done in the past.

I was working against time, since the flowers and bulbs were sitting in a wheelbarrow in my barn and needed desperately to be put back in the soil. Phase two of the flower bed was finished.

Come back and visit me Monday to see the final phase and completion of the flower bed.