Friday, May 12, 2017

Lessons Learned

Very early on in our quest to garden here, we learned just how vicious the pasture grasses are in reclaiming what had been theirs.  Quack grass is unbelievably invasive.  Any tiny piece of root will grow into a determined plant.  Sometimes I feel like the plant can regrow if only its scent remains in the soil.  The battle to keep it out of the garden is constant.

When we first opened this garden by the woods, a trench system was established as a barrier between the garden and the grass.  We used landscape fabric to cover the bottom soil.  Quack grass quickly grew both under and into the fabric.  Its web of roots was impossible to remove so  it was start over time.

When the fabric is removed the roots above and below it are removed as well.  Major effort is required to pull plant growth free on both sides of the fabric.  Once that is done the remaining soil is remarkably free of plant parts.  Some soil is removed next.  Cardboard is placed at the bottom of the shallow trench.  We believe that the cardboard discourages grass growth.  Weeding the bark mulch is straightforward and simple.  Once finished we expect that this area will require little of our time for the next several years.

The strawberry bed requires some explanation.  New runner plants were moved here earlier this year.  We intend to let these plants run and fill in the straw covered area.  The area covered by leaves will be kept free of strawberry plants.  If all goes as planned we should enjoy a plentiful harvest for three years.  We intend to pinch off all blossoms this year to focus the plants on growth.

We remain totally free of income from our blog.  Any product endorsements are given only because we find the product great.  The Cobra Head cultivator is just such a product.  It has been available with a short handle for several years.  We use them extensively while seated on our garden carts.  They fit the hand with ease and are fantastic for hand cultivation.  A long handled version has recently come to our garden.  It just arrived and a test run was in order.  In the past a four tined stone fork was our tool of choice for standing work.  The single tine of the Cobra Head pulls through the ground with almost no effort.  The tine is on its side in the photo as piece of quack grass root is slated for removal.  In all fairness, this ground had been worked with the stone fork earlier this year.  The hand held model can deliver impressive force to large deeply rooted weeds but it is easier on the weeder to use a spading fork to remove the monsters.  We will treat the long handled version similarly.  Knockoffs are  now appearing on the market so you know that this is a quality product.

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