Weeds and Wine

| 6/5/2015 9:13:00 AM

Erin SheehanI find June the most tedious month for gardening. There’s not much to harvest, but there’s a whole lot of work to do. Right now all we’re harvesting is lettuce. What’s really growing in the garden? Weeds.

Weeds compete with your plants for nutrients and water and, if you let them get big enough, they’ll even shade your plants. Vegetable plants that have to compete with weeds end up stunted and won’t produce well. Fighting weeds is no fun, but it’s essential.

When we enlarged our garden a few years back, I underestimated how much more weeding we’d have. The weeds went gangbusters, and I let them get ahead of me. I ended up spending an entire weekend crawling around in the garden pulling weeds. When I tried to sleep at night all I could see was weeds when I closed my eyes. I vowed to never again let the weeds get so bad.

The following year I forced myself to weed every night after work, rain or shine, for at least 30 minutes. That meant I was getting about 4 to 5 feet of garden weeded each day. Just about enough so that when I got around the garden, the area I’d done first was ready to be weeded again.

The last few years we’ve tried a different strategy. We saved all of our newspapers and started bagging grass clippings from the lawn. We had a large lawn at the time and our neighbors also contributed their grass. Jim laid down a thick layer of newspaper around our plants and held it down with the grass clippings. It smothered the weeds completely. The only problem with this strategy is that in June you have a huge garden, tons of weeds, but not enough grass to cover everything.

This year we have almost no lawn at all (and no grass clippings) so we located a farmer on Craigslist and bought eight bales of straw. We laid down the newspapers and covered it with a straw blanket. You can see the difference between the straw area and the non-straw area pretty clearly.

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