Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dirty Talk

Yep, it's that time of year again: time to resist all temptations to plant early.  Time to resist that desire to put just one tomato into the ground cause, well gee, it has after all been really lovely for a couple of weeks now.  Now is the time to get the ground ready and, yes, that means weeding.
To begin, I really don't like to use any kind of chemical cocktail in the garden when I can at all avoid it.  The very idea of Roundup and its companions gives me the willies.  So what to do when you have an area that has been taken over by grass and weeds?  Vinegar.  More specifically: one gallon of Vinegar mixed with two tablespoons of dish soap.  Lightly spray this mixture over the area to be cleared on a good hot sunny day, and in a few days, the area will be ready to clear of the dried up plant remains. 
Before on left, after on right
What's nice is it doesn't make the soil toxic, doesn't linger, and doesn't kill off the beneficial nematodes.  Because it doesn't linger, once the weeds are removed one must stay on top of any new weeds that may attempt to move in (sorry, no free rides).  If you're not careful, a dried up, overlooked root ball may spring back to life.  Be wary.

Plants need more than just a pot of dirt to grow in.  The soil needs to be dense enough to support the plant, yet loose enough to allow the roots to grow, drink, eat, and breathe.  By adding organic matter such as compost one loosens and enriches the soil with nutritious matter that also helps the soil hold moisture without becoming boggy.
Soil mixed with compost on left.  Plain topsoil on right
One of the blessings of keeping chickens is maintaining a compost pile made from the bedding and chicken poop.  Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen and needs to sit for awhile before using it in the garden.  After about six months, a well maintained pile will be odor free and will provide beautiful, rich compost.  
Did I mention that the compost pile is also earth worm heaven?
 A little time and effort and soon you'll be rewarded.  For now, we wait for Memorial Day while happily digging in the dirt.

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