Posts Tagged ‘tilling’

Tilling sucks

June 10, 2009

OK, I suppose tilling has its uses, but I must say that my tilled area looks really bad. I worked on it some yesterday, using a garden rake and a ho to get some of the grass up. There are some weeds in the tilled area, but mostly it’s just the grass growing back. Now to be fair, I haven’t done much of anything in the tilled area. Combine my laziness with lots of rain and that explains why the grass is growing back. However, compared to my raised beds, the tilled area is much worse. It is more work and the grass is growing faster. Even the Pie Bed, (the no-dig bed in which I turned some sod upside down and then filled with some potting soil), which is the raised bed with the most weeds, does not compare to the tilled area. 

Pizza Bed in the foreground, tilled area in the background

Pizza Bed in the foreground, tilled area in the background

The only complaint I have with the raised beds is that there is not enough room to get the riding mower between them. We don’t have a push mower and I really don’t want to buy one since we have a gas-powered weed whacker (that I can’t start!). Ideally I wouldn’t have grass in between the raised beds. I would like a garden with no grass at all, but how to get rid of that grass? Or, more precisely, how can I get rid of that grass without chemicals and without spending a lot of money? I know that if I put down mulch that will help get rid of the grass, but right now I’m short on mulch since our bagger for the riding mower was back ordered. We can pick that up today, so as soon as I can mow again, I will have mulch and lots of it. I also know mulch would help in the tilled area.

While I like the idea of grass clippings as mulch in the raised beds and the tilled area, I would like something else to put in between the raised beds. This site, Organic Weed Control Methods ~ Mulching, has some great ideas. It has some good information about why mulching is so helpful and has a list of natural mulches, with suggestions on where to get them. None of these mulches jump out at me as easy and cheap and quick (quick as in tomorrow), unless I want to walk around collecting the grass clippings from the last time we mowed. I guess I will just wait until we have the bagger and then let the grass clippings dry and apply them to the tilled area. Then I guess I will use the weed whacker to trim around the raised beds. I think it would be a good idea to put down cardboard and/or newspaper before putting down the mulch, too.

The best idea I’ve had for in between the raised beds is to use broken up concrete. I remember reading somewhere that broken up concrete is a flagstone alternative. It can be laid out so that it looks like flagstone, but has the benefit of being more environmentally friendly. One of our neighbors just up the road has a big pile that’s just sitting there. I’ve thought about asking him if he is going to use it, but I haven’t done it yet. Maybe I should stop by and ask him next time I am driving to town. I think I could always do the paper/cardboard with dried grass clippings piled on top and then add the concrete afterwards. The concrete part might be a good autumn project, though. You know, after we build a henhouse for our 24 pullets (though I suspect one of the Buff Orpingtons is a boy) and a greenhouse and a workshop for Tim.


I’d rather be gardening

May 30, 2009

I never have enough time to work in the garden, it seems. I think we only stayed home one day this past week. Unfortunately I was not feeling particularly energetic that day. It didn’t much matter because I couldn’t mow because of the rain and couldn’t work in the garden because we hadn’t been to the nursery to get plants, compost, and vermiculite. Now it is Saturday and I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped. I think that is probably how spring is. It’s been so long since we had a real spring (spring in Phoenix is subtle and doesn’t last long) that I have forgotten.

I weeded a bit and am grateful that I haven’t had to do more. I think the square foot/raised bed gardening works well at keeping weeds away. I have had some problems with grass growing, but mostly along the edges and the corners. The Pie Bed (rhubarb, strawberries, and blueberries) has had the most grass growing in it. I did not dig in that bed, and then I added turned over sod on top of the partially dying grass. However, even that bed did not have a lot of grass. Soon I will probably be pulling out saplings since the cottonwoods are doing their cottonwood thing. It’s really cool and looks like it is snowing. The muddy areas on either side of the driveway looked like they were covered in snow. 

The Herb Bed is beautiful and mostly full. It has three squares of dill, four squares each of oregano and parsley, one square of chives, and three squares of cilantro. The final square was a dill transplant that I started from seed, but it didn’t survive. I have more basil to transplant, as well as some lavender, mint, and rosemary. I will grow the mint and rosemary in containers so that I can contain the mint and bring the rosemary in during the winter. 

The tilled area of the garden is doing OK. The bad news about the tilled area is that the grass is starting to grow back in places. The good news is that the soil is still nice and loose, so it’s quite easy to pull or rake the grass out of the soil. I spent some time making more mounds for the corn, beans, and squash (Three Sisters) so that I can plant some more. Some of the corn is about 4 inches tall, which means it is time to plant the beans and squash, according to Renee’s Garden, which is the plan I am using. You can do the Three Sisters in a square foot garden, too. Since we have plenty of room I figured I would used the tilled area instead of using more wood to make the boxes. 

I posted a few pictures of the garden on the May 2009 page, where you can also read my incredibly detailed garden notes if you are so inclined. I’m not sure it makes very interesting reading, but it will prove useful next spring, I’m sure!

Morning chores (and another tick)

April 16, 2009

So I do have some morning chores now. I am trying to switch the laundry every morning so that the dirty laundry doesn’t pile up and so that we aren’t doing a lot of loads back to back, which is bad for the septic system. The laundry is upstairs, so I can do that while I am showering or getting dressed (and searching for clothes!). Then I feed Riley the cat his soft food so he stops meowing. I check the water for the indoor cats and change it as needed. Then I go outside to feed the outdoor cats their soft food.

Right now the chickens are in the garage in their movable coop, so I go in there to check their feed and water. If it’s nice, Tim and I will cart them out to the garden. Soon it will be warm enough that we can leave them out there all night and just shut them up in the coop part. It’s time to get started on the hen house, though!

Now part of my morning chores will include walking the fence line to check the cattle. I don’t know if all cattle farmers do this, or if it’s because our fence is a one wire fence, but Scott the Farmer said we’ll need to do it daily. We don’t actually have the cows yet, but I figured I’d better incorporate it into my morning routine. Besides, it’s a nice walk (good exercise as it’s uphill, too) and a good way to work up an appetite for breakfast, which will be the next chore to do. Oh, and today I can take pictures to post.

Last night Tim found another tick after he showered. I checked the kids, which is pretty easy with their new Tick Season Haircuts, as I call them. Aidan’s is a buzz cut. He said he wants a mohawk next time, which is just fine with me. I’m not sure Marvin will be so cool with that, but we’ll see. His haircuts reflect on him, of course, so if he does something  unusual people in town might talk, I guess. 🙂

I will probably do another post today even though I don’t like to do two posts on one day. It is 5 weeks since we  got the chicks, so I owe you all some pictures from last week and this week, as well as pictures of the fence if I can take any good ones (I am so not a photographer, but I will do my best). Today we also need to go into town to get two long hoses – one for the cows, one for the garden – a watering can, and some more bedding for the chickens. We also need a trough for water for the cows, but not sure how big of one we need. I’ll have to call Scott the Farmer to find out.

I’m also going to stop by the tree nursery to get more potting soil and to see when they can come till. In the meantime, Tim and I built two more frames for the garden yesterday. Now I have 3 4′ X 4′ frames. I need to plan the garden a bit more before I build more frames, as yesterday I was reading about how to plant the Three Sisters (planting corn, squash, and beans together as the Native Americans did) in a square foot garden. So, more planning and tending of the seedlings, too. Not sure when I will find more time to blog today, but I will try.

Anyway, I’m taking this short break while waiting for Tim to get dressed so we can walk the fence. Now I must go get some water and take my vitamins so we can go for a walk.