Since I saw that first advertisement for Troy-bilt rototillers, I thought the perfect garden was to have NO weeds, EVER.
I have poisoned, mulched, hoed, tilled and pulled weeds over the last 30 years in an attempt to have a garden worthy of a Troy-bilt rototiller advertisement. Today I shall begin a short series of “Contemplations” that have occurred during this process.Early in my gardening career, my husband would spray the garden with Round Up early in the spring, 2 – 3 weeks prior to planting.
My fantasy was, “I am starting with a clean garden, weeding will be minimal because those pesky weeds are all dead,” In fact, this only handles those few seeds that germinated early but as soon as you till the final time before planting, you move new seeds to the surface for germination. Hmmm, not worth wasting Round-Up and there’s always the potential of chemical residuals in the soil.
A few years later, we inherited a hay stack and no animals to eat it. Since we were living in a hot, dry climate, it seemed reasonable to use that hay to mulch the garden. Not only did it smother the weeds, it kept the soil moist, reducing irrigation requirements. Another benefit was the friability factor when it was turned under in the fall. Ah, but the law of unintended consequences, the following year we had a beautiful grass and alfalfa crop germinating in the garden – Different weeds! Even when we’ve used straw we have managed to import new weeds in the medium.
As with any additions of debris, nitrogen, in one form or another, must be added to assist in the composting process. Going organic, we found a fine fellow with horse stalls that needed cleaning. After two years of heavy mulching, our soil was delighted with the infusion of manure. New lesson: When animals eat weeds, the seeds are not digested and expelled inert. Oh, no, the manure offered us a few new weed cultivars for our expanding collection.
Finally, by a stroke of brilliance, we located a feed lot where they happily filled whatever truck or trailer you showed up with, for free. Feed lots provide high levels of salt to the cattle to add water weight and to help prevent dehydration, the excess salt is found in the manure and thus is transferred to the garden. Our garden suffered greatly with this addition.
“The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” – Matthew 13: 24 & 25
How many times in life and for how long have we been our own enemy?
With all this wonderful experience, we are in a new space in time…