Tuesday, April 23, 2013
A Slow Day of Garden Musings
We still can't get out into the garden for any real planting. It had almost dried out enough yesterday to begin thinking about it but we knew more rain was coming today anyway. No point in getting our hopes up. The raised beds surrounded by the woodchip walkways have proven themselves as I expected. They allow more than enough drainage and the walks remain useable no matter how much rain we get, allowing us to plant and grow the early crops that this Midwest climate usually makes impossible due to the rain and mud. So far this year I am definitely seeing an advantage to the combination of open till and raised bed design I am working on.
As things stand right now I am still a large fan of grass clippings for mulch over solid woodchips in the garden area. The clippings are a bit more labor intensive but amend the soil quicker as they completely decompose over a season which allows me to add extra soil amendments like manure and wood ash during the Winter months and then till it in come Spring. With our open fields and large yard area grass clipping are also more sustainable although if one of the tree trimming companies is working in the area they will unload on our property. Sadly none of them seem to be working out here this year.
I cannot discount the disadvantages from last years drought however. The raised bed and woodchip covered areas took heavy mole damages as every little underground varmint from miles around relocated like a pack of hungry refugees into the protected zones. It looks as if the Asparagus and Strawberries are bouncing back this year but it is going to take a while to get them up to the lush growth and production they had achieved in 2011. Also wood chip covers are not a morning glory deterrent at all. In fact the morning glory LOVES those areas to the point of trading one type of weed control for another.
I do have to admit though that covering the entire garden with grass clippings is very labor intensive for the first month or so after planting. It would help if I had one of those pull along grass catcher type mowers but I also like to let the grass clippings dry a day or so before putting them on the garden to cut down on the nitrogen that leeches out. Also this year I will have much more time to devote to the endeavor and I am looking forward to seeing how that works out. The last few years it has been a constant job that I had to work on almost every possible free minute as I juggled work and planting. This year I will be able to get the entire job done in one or two mowings and have the entire process behind me.
Let's just pray for a normal growing season this year. I believe the Good Lord presents us with opportunities and has given me one this Spring. Time has always been a very limiting factor in many of my sustainable experiments and projects but this year I will not be so shackled and so far things are coming together nicely.
Time to see how it all fits together.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!