Thursday, July 3, 2008

A timely July topic: the garden & weeds

Since it is the beginning of July, I thought I would write about a timely topic: Our vegetable garden. We've had a vegetable garden for the past 4 years now, and each year I learn a little more. I would never describe myself as having a green thumb; half of the time, I have no idea what I'm doing - I just keep digging. Thankfully, the internet and my other biggest source of gardening information (thanks mom!) have helped me to increase yearly my harvest of fresh and organic vegetables.

My thoughts on having a vegetable garden: I love the idea of being able to grow our own food. Self-sustainability is very satisfying. I would recommend to anyone who has the space and the gumption to give a pesticide/herbicide-free vegetable garden a try. It saves resources in many ways: saving fuel driving to the market, avoiding hazardous chemicals, not to mention saving yourself money.

The following are growing in the garden, along with their current status:
  • Raspberry bushes (2 small harvests)
  • Yellow Pear Tomatoes (3 plants - some green tomatoes)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (1 plant - flowering)
  • Bush Pickles (too many plants to count - flowering)
  • Cucumbers (1 plant - flowering)
  • Pumpkins grown from seeds (pumpkin vines, no flowers)
  • Green Onions grown from seeds (I gave up on these - the weeds overtook them)
  • Carrots grown from seeds (I'm predicting a very small harvest - maybe 5 carrots if we're lucky!)
  • Green beans (climbing up the fence)
  • Red Bell Peppers (2 little green ones)
  • Parsley (it's growing)
The current issue I am having with the garden is that it is overrun with weeds.

I don't have the time or ambition to get out to the garden ever day to weed it - that task doesn't make it into the daily roster of household priorities. So what's a semi-gardener, who doesn't want to use chemicals, to do? I've since learned something to try is laying newspaper on the dirt, wet it every day to suffocate the weeds, then pitchfork it into the dirt as it decomposes. But the question in my mind: Does anybody else think newspaper in the soil sounds unhealthy? What is newspaper ink made of anyway? Will the chemicals from the ink leach into the soil? And if they do, will it do us any harm?

I'll continue to search for alternatives. Extra points for solutions that are inexpensive and low on effort.


Peter Edstrom said...

we use straw/hay to lay down between the plants. especially good for tomatoes/squash. We ended up getting too much, so if you'd like to barter :-), we've got a few extra bails in the garage. Added benefit: it helps lock in the moisture so you don't need to water as much.

Striving Green said...

Excellent - thank you! I will post my barter list in the future for your perusal.