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Archive for April 25th, 2010

One of the blogs I love to visit is Yolanda Elizabet’s Bliss Gardens. I truly do find blissful moments there, visiting the colony of cats that adorn the place, viewing the orderly and wonderfully scented gardens.   There is amusement too, in the depictions of  darling (no-longer-a-puppy) Tara’s antics.   Bliss Gardens is inspirational too, taking you on tours of beautiful Dutch show gardens in her area.   I almost forgot how instructional Bliss is, lots of great information imparted with a humorous touch.

I was particularly struck by the latest post of Yolanda’s:  “Speed Weeding.” This post was very high in my mind today as I was watering the seedling beds over by the sauna dressing room garden.  This is where I allow zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, and other rampant annuals full sway.   The butterflies and bees absolutlely love this spot during July and August.

Anyway, I planted some sunflower seeds on the west side of that garden, and today I was watering those seed beds to encourage them to sprout.   Of course as I was pursuing that job, I had to reassure the robin mother who is nesting right above the hose storage area of the sauna wall.   She is none too confident of our intentions when we are rummaging around below her, and it seems to help if I tell her in a calm and loving voice what it is that I am doing.   (Often when I am in the midst of this sort of activity I suddenly “become” Bilbo Baggins addressing the thrush on Smaug’s doorstep.)    This morning she watched me empty the bird watering pan I always keep by that faucet, and refilling it with fresh water.    She kept shifting in her nest and peering at me very sternly, but she sat tight and relaxed as she watched me slowly working my way along the whole garden, watering the plants that I already have established there.

And this was when I reflected upon the whole concept of “speed weeding” as a tool for garden maintenance.  Mostly I thought about the concept because I need to do some of that very badly.   Unlike Bliss Gardens, I rarely have a group of gardeners coming over for a tour.  Usually my need for speed weeding is caused by my deciding to take my virtual friends on a garden tour.   Needless to say, I can avoid a lot of problems by just deciding not to photograph any spot that is egregiously flaunting lots of weeds.   Or I pass off the green mist around my plants as “ground cover”.

My favorite tool for speed weeding is the Cobra Head weeder.   I have two of these very useful tools, so I usually don’t have to look very far to find one handy, even though The Havens is a rather large space.   Actually, since I usually grab one of them when I head out into the garden, I usually don’t have to look farther than the end of my arm for the tool of choice.  Anyway, using the tool at an angle, I can shave baby weeds off their roots.   Or I can loosen the soil nearby and pull them out by their roots.   When I am doing the “shaving” operation, I frequently follow that with a layer of fresh compost or mulch, and in literally minutes I can change an area that looks like this:

to something that looks more like this:

Same lettuce bed, different angles.  Now take a look at how my onion bed looks, which I never had to speed weed at all because I mulched it directly after my onion plants started growing.   Please also take a moment to admire the garlic, which is in the bed behind the onions.   That was planted in October, wintered over and is now growing like a bad weed (if I dare to mention that word in relation to a desired crop).

The asparagus bed is in the background of this shot I took of the handful of asparagus I harvested the other day.   As you can see, it badly needs weeding in that shot.   That problem was dealt with the other day, but I did not do any speed weeding here.  The asparagus spears are busy coming up through the soil, and any speedy technique is likely to break them off below ground level.  I managed to get the weeds gone and only broke four spears.   And why, you might ask, would you weed out an asparagus bed anyway, especially one as happy as this one?   Because asparagus is a little sulky about competition, and I prefer it to a lush bed of weeds.   Very soon I will be top dressing this bed with a couple of inches of half composted leaves.

I could use that shaving technique here in the Sauna Garden where I mainly host annuals for the butterflies and hummingbirds.   The usual suspects here are marigolds, cosmos, zinnias and cleomes.    This is what the area looks like right now.

There are a couple of cherry tree seedlings in this view, as well as a whole host of sundry chickweeds, and I don’t know what all else.   I will probably use the shave/mulch technique here, but I will be very careful.   Because just to the right of the pebble down at the bottom you can see a cleome seedling.   It is actually in a quite good spot for my purposes, so I will try to leave it intact as I remove all the other volunteers.   By the way, if you are so visionary as to establish a Certified Wildlife Habitat, as I have, you will have lots of things brought to your gardens, planted unbeknownst to you as a wonderful surprise for spring, by the robins and their cohorts.   That is the source of the literally hundreds of cherry tree seedlings I remove from The Havens every year.

Now here is a spot that you almost never see photographed on this blog.   This is the left side of the barn.   There used to be a raspberry patch that started here and extended around the side of the barn.   Now the raspberries are succumbing to some sort of fungus, so I have left them to their own devices while we get a new place arranged for them.   Meanwhile, the robins have planted poke weed here, and there is a lot of other stuff where the raspberries used to be.   I guess we’ll probably remove the railroad tie edging and just start mowing this off as part of the lawn.   I don’t really have any great desire to tend a tiny garden bed here.   Meanwhile, I just crop this out of my photos, as a general rule.

The new raspberry bed is almost ready for planting.   Like most things around here, after a few years of looking around, the obviously perfect spot for the new raspberry bed made itself known.   It will be in front of the vegetable garden fence, and in addition to being a raspberry patch will serve as one more layer of defense against the bermuda grass.

Here is another spot that involves quite technical weeding.  This is the edge of the Root Cellar Garden.   Last fall I had my strong son remove the terrace edging rocks because they have been invaded and colonized by bermuda grass rhizomes.   I did this in the fond belief that during the fall I would get that stuff removed in time to resituate all my lily bulbs, daffodils, sedums, etc etc that are living there.   Ha ha ha ha ha.   This is how it looks right now.

We had to move the rocks so Jim could mow the lawn near here.  it is really going to be a trick to get the grass rhizomes out without killing all the lilies, which you can see are quite happily growing in the first picture.   Quite a nice clump of them there, actually.  This is the sort of mess that makes me almost give up my organic principles and go out and purchase roundup or one of its cousins.   Almost.

And now, a short diversion.   On the way back to the house the other day I noticed that my clematis are busy blooming on the fence.

Remember back when I was so fascinated by the snow and winter beauty that I was parading around at all temperatures, most of them real cold?   There are quite a few posts in January and February exhibiting that obsession.  I have paid the supreme price for that bunch of nonsense.  Sometime during all that in and out, freezing my camera and bringing it in, it got condensation Inside the lenses.   There is a spot on the lens that shows up in the most inopportune times.  Unfortunately, I will have to take this camera to the camera doctor and pay money for the removal of the blotch.   Money which is not available at this time due to the rather inopportune choice our tenants made to move leaving no forwarding address but all their furniture in situ.   Needless to say, we have to wait the appointed amount of time before we can dispose of their personal possessions, and meanwhile the place is standing dirty and unoccupied and not producing income to offset the mortgage.   To say money is tight at The Havens right now is to make an understatement so profound as to be almost unimaginable.   Suffice it to say that the money tightness as resulted in Not One Single Plant being purchased for the new Stroll Garden this spring, a fact that makes my soul shed invisible tears.   We will be fortunate to afford the new raspberries we need.   Oh wait.   Am I whining?   I shall cease and desist immediately.

Anyway, this is what an uncropped photo looks like.   Notice the lovely dark splotch in the sky.   Someday that will be removed by the camera tech.   Meanwhile, I just have to live with it.

Someone left the cake out in the rain, I don’t think that I can take it, cause it took so long to make it, and I’ll never have that recipe again. . . Oh no!”

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