Project Update

Last Monday I had a list of projects that I wanted to complete. The week flew by, and I felt I would never get anything accomplished. On Saturday, I worked on several of the projects, while my husband worked on getting some areas ready for planting grass. The plan was….divide and conquer.

My chief focus of work on Saturday was to get the corn planted. I have noted in past years, that if I wait too long to plant the corn, it tends to have more problems with worms eating the ends of the ears. Pests have their own cycles of development from larva to adults. If you can learn to plant during times the pests are not in a stage for eating crops, you will need less pest control intervention.

The area that I chose to plant the corn in has never been planted to  a crop. This area contains blueberry bushes, an apple tree, peach tree, two fig trees, and a small chicken lot. I had planted one lemon balm plant years ago and the lemon balm took over the area.

Lemon balm and weed overgrowth.

Lemon balm and weed overgrowth.

The trellis was placed in this area, several years ago, for blackberry and raspberry plants to trail on. The lemon balm and weeds choked out those berry plants.

I tilled the area and had been working to clear it off over several weeks. We finally took off a chain link panel at the back of the area so I could get the tractor in for deeper tilling.

Chain link fence removed for better tilling.

Chain link fence removed for better tilling.

The tractor cleared more of the weeds and overgrowth of lemon balm.

The tractor cleared more of the weeds and overgrowth of lemon balm.

I then took my small rototiller back in for the final clearing.

Area needing more tilling.

Area needing more tilling.

Area under peach tree that needed more tilling.

Area under peach tree that needed more tilling.

Under the peach tree was a large pot with a dwarf peach tree that I have had for years. It has never had any fruit. I removed it from the container and planted it in the ground.

The peach tree already looks better in the ground.

The peach tree already looks better in the ground.

I placed some old landscape fabric around it to prevent weed growth until we can get another load of mulch to put around this tree.

I tilled the area, over and over again, and below are the final pictures of the weed free soil.

Same area where we had removed the chain link section.

Same area where we had removed the chain link section. The section was replaced in this picture.

Area under peach tree.

Area under peach tree.

We replaced the chain link section and I got the corn planted. I also planted more blackberry and raspberry plants in front of the trellis and laid down landscape fabric. This area will look much better when we get a load of mulch applied over the fabric.

Berry plants in front of trellis with landscape fabric.

Berry plants in front of trellis with landscape fabric.

There is still a lot of work to do in this area, but it is coming together. I moved the smaller of the two fig trees to the back trellis so it would not be in the way for planting corn or other future crops.

It is a load off my plate to be finished with this area for a little while so I can concentrate on the main garden. If you have big projects like this to complete, hang in there. Do what you can, a little at a time, and you will surprise yourself one day and actually get it completed.

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Using Gardening Techniques Wisely

Four raised beds, clean and ready for use.

Four raised beds, cleaned and ready for use.

I was able to get four raised beds cleaned up and ready for use on Friday.

In the bed at the far end of the garden I will plant alfalfa. My dad gave me the seeds and the insight into what alfalfa can be used for in the garden.

Alfalfa is a Legume, or green manure crop. It is a perennial crop that can be cut several times a year. Its leaves can be used as mulch and as a soil amendment. It adds nitrogen, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, boron, iron, and zinc to the garden. It is great for vegetable plants, and roses love it. The grass from it can be cut before it goes to seed and used as mulch. As the mulch decomposes it will continually add minerals to the soil. This is an inexpensive, and organic way to add nutrients to your soil, so I am devoting one bed to the production of alfalfa.

The next bed in this line will be devoted to a perennial bed of lemon balm. Lemon balm repels mosquitos when rubbed on your skin and prevents the need for toxic sprays. It is thought to have anti-bacterial and antiviral properties when used as an herbal tea. It is considered to be a calming agent and can therefore reduce stress. It has been shown to improve mood and mental performance and can be used to flavor ice cream, teas, fish, and can be made into pesto. The one warning for lemon balm is that if you take thyroid hormone, as I do, you have to be very careful to limit your intake. Although not throughly studied at this time, it is thought that lemon balm may prevent proper absorption of your thyroid medication.

My third bed is planted in loose leaf lettuce over half the bed. I plan to grow renegade spinach over the other half. Renegade Spinach can withstand summer’s heat better than other spinach. This creates a salad bed.

The last bed in this line-up will be planted with tomatoes and basil. Basil helps keep pests off the tomatoes. They are considered companion plants and each one grows better when planted together. From the last two beds, I can make a really good salad.

So there you have it. If you use your garden resources wisely they can work for you, reducing costs, and providing healthier alternatives.