Monday, June 5, 2017
Twice Used Tree Leaves
Last summer two hills of squash grew here. Fresh grass clippings were placed under the young plants to discourage weeds. After frost ended the squash plants, all vegetation was removed and composted and the ground was left bare. When the village trees finally dropped their leaves, this planting bed received a thick leaf cover. Various wire cages were placed on top of the leaves to keep them in place. Today we needed to clear the leaves away to make room for new plants.
This planting bed is bordered by pasture grass. That means that it will fill with grass runners with each passing day. Our attempt to win this battle involves expendable plants and leaf mulch. Three of the sunflowers that reseed freely here were planted near the peas. Three cone flowers that also multiply freely were planted next. A catnip, a rose campion and a poppy round out this planting of free plants for the moment. When additional weeds are cleared, more temporary or expendable plants will be given a place to grow. The leaf mulch placed here today came from the bed cleared for planting.
We needed to clear the planting bed so that the basil and pepper plants could finally be released from their pots. Our frost free date is June first so we are not that far behind. This ground will be left bare for some time. Exposure to sunlight is thought to be of some benefit to the soil. We will then open a bag of tree leaves that were chopped by our lawn mower last fall. A trip through a sifting screen will give us small sized leaf pieces to be placed under the basil and pepper plants. These fine old leaf pieces will look really sharp and will nearly rot away be fall. Weeds will be few in number on this ground then and the rotted leaves will add a much sought after layer of black to our soil. A generous application of limestone will be followed by new leaves as winter approaches.
This bed of peas is just across the stone path next to the basil plants. After putting the seeds into the soil, full sized leaves were placed on the bare soil. Room was left open to allow the peas an easy trip into sunlight and fresh air. Once the peas were up, the leaves were pushed close intending to keep the weeds away. The soil under the chicken wire was left bare and we expect to see some weeds there. The peas have a good head start so our next job here should be picking fresh peas.
We are looking for techniques that will decrease the work required to keep the gardens looking tended. Some time is required to gather and place the leaves but once they are on the ground plants can reach harvest with little additional effort from us. A recent inspection of the garlic bed in the garden by the woods revealed a nearly weed free planting. The garlic will be harvested in little more than five weeks from now and what weeds are present are small. They will not negatively impact the growth of the garlic now. Only my pride will require some time spent pulling weeds there.