Saturday, June 5, 2010

tucking in the beds

In past years, after all our planting is done, we have covered the beds with waste fleece to help keep the moisture in and the weeds down.

This year, my kids begged me not to do it. It created more weeds, they said. (Not sure if this is true, but there are inevitable seedheads in the waste fleece.) It made it harder to weed, they said. (Yes, I have to give them this one.) It made it so messy, they said. (Again, not sure.) We just love to complain, they said. (Well, not really. But I would welcome such honesty with open arms.)

So I held off this year, in the interest of (1) scientific experimentation and (2) not having to listen to my kids whine. Instead, I decided to try a time-honored method: the humble hoe. Generations of our ancestors -- and many current farmers around the globe -- can't be completely off-base about this one!

Unfortunately, there was a hoe casualty early on in the experiment. One of our butternut squash plants bit the dust due to my not paying sufficient attention. Wah!

Despite such setbacks, I diligently hoed every few days, and the beds looked much neater, but the plants didn't seem very happy. As a matter of fact, they were distinctly lack-luster and did not seem at all appreciative of how neat the beds looked around them.

(I think it may point to a deeper lesson about the lack of value of excessive house-keeping, but I'll keep that one to myself.)

My friend Marta and her family were over for dinner last night and I took her out to survey our garden. She was brutally honest, as all good friends are, and pointed out that the plants looked unhappy and lackluster. (I knew it wasn't my imagination!) And just where was the fleece that I usually covered them with, anyway?

Bowing to her wisdom, today I took the waste fleece out of the barn and decided to try a middle ground this year. My ever-patient family helped me weed one last time and then put fleece around the base of each plant, with space left between them for application of the hoe. We only water each plant instead of the entire bed, again to keep the weeds down, so we soaked each little fleece pillow to help keep it in place and kick-start the moisture retention process.

What do you think? Don't they look happier already? I'll keep you posted on the results.

Confidential to C./xxxxx: Happy 17th anniversary! It's been a wonderful journey with you.


  1. Your little plants look OH so happy surrounded by little tufts of love! After all, the other pictures show them positively NAKED! How can they be expected to produce much of anything if they are naked and looking so vulnerable :0). I adore reading your blog! You are doing so many of the "things" my Brooklyn hands tried to accomplish but alas, never really did! Next year...after we lop down 3 GINORMOUS trees from our yard, I am planning on attempting---GULP---a garden! I had sworn I would never again TOUCH dirt---or a hoe---after my quasi-Amish experience, but what a silly girl I can be, right. That swinging pendulum of mine! Well, keep blogging---I don't post much, but know I read often :0)! Have an awesome day!

  2. You have such smart friends! The garden is looking great now. Wondering if you've ever/tried heard of mulch? Supposedly fabu results. I made my own version with cow manure, compost, peat, and leave mulch. Happy to report my plants are huge this year. Guess I hadn't been topdressing throughly enough in the past. Happy gardening!