I gotta tell ya, I am so excited about getting a grip on the sad state that is my garden. There's a saying that goes something like "you can't serve two masters". Well they just might be onto something by golly! There are only 24 hours in a day and 8 of them are for sleeping. It explains why I had eight foot tall stinging nettle taking over my raised beds while I was at work. To be fair, I'd given up on trying to stay on top of the veggie garden last summer. Spring revealed broken boards requiring some major bed repairs. When would I find time to fix this? Instead I focused on the display planters on the deck and in front of the house Turned out I saved myself a lot of grief. It was not a kind summer. Too hot to work. Not enough rain yada yada yada. You get the picture.
By September, things were getting out of hand and with hubby's help we managed to yank all the nettle and cover the bed with some black silage plastic after I repaired the side boards. Any kind of tarp, carpeting, plastic sheeting will help to keep it from coming back until I can get in there. It's one of my best tools in the garden! By placing a sheet of black plastic down, the sun heats things up and kills everything underneath after about 3-4 weeks, depending on weather. What a back saver! Yup, this year I'm going to work smart. I'm also going to step out of my comfort zone and ask for help. You see, out here in the countryside, neighbours are mostly farmers. Farmers with backhoes and tractors. Several years ago when we had a road built to circle the barns, we've had a large mound of topsoil (also with a nettle forest) that is not only an eyesore but hard work to excavate a wheel barrel full of dirt from! Compost eventually , well,... composts! Things tend to sink low in the beds over time. I need tons of dirt to top up my raised beds and the going is slower than maple syrup right about now. So if I can screw up the courage to ask, just maybe I'll have a head start on things! Besides, I can't plant anything in 80% of the beds until I do!
As an aside, He's a little gem of information I gained over the holidays...hubby announced he's not crazy about asparagus! So I just may remove it to make room for perennial foods that we will eat!
So step one this summer is to get this ship shape and productive! Some hasp berries bushes were recently planted but may not have survived. That's ok because when I did get around to trying the berries on a bush at work, yowza were they sour! I don't know about you, but over time you get smart about stuff. It occurred to me that having to add tons of sugar to make something palatable goes against my grain of healthy eating and cutting added sugar. So out they'll come, along with rhubarb. Have you ever tasted anything so bitter? Why do we do that? There are so many more tasty things we can grow that have their own natural sugars. That's my take on it anyway. To each his/her own. In my garden, there will be no plants that don't serve us. I even managed to plant 40 some garlic cloves for harvest this year!
Step two is to remember to collect wild edibles. Oh yes I have been an avid herbalist and free foodist for as long as I can remember. I enjoy making myself medicinal teas. I was reading recently that many of the edible weeds contain more nutrition than regular produce! I want to take advantage of those vitamins! My plan is to create a calendar to know when the best times are to pick dandelion leaves, and wild violets etc. as well as non edibles that are used for rope, like,... nettles! Also for decor I want to collect pussy willows and dogwood. I eventually want to harvest willow for basket making and twig furniture. I want to identify what I have on the property and mark them, take cuttings and start some rows for future commercial use for floral arranging etc. Yes I have thousands of ideas, ambitious plans, hopes and dreams. And some of them will happen in 2019!
So feel free to follow along as I plan and schedule myself to the point of exhaustion with projects and ultimately some major improvements!