Archive for July 25, 2008

Garden Grinch

At times, I feel a sort of kindred spirit with the Grinch.

    Not when the Mean One slinks through homes, stealing from every Who down in Whoville.

    But on days when I’m looking for a peaceful respite in my city-leased garden, I do have a certain sympathy for Mr. Grinch when he laments about all the “noise, noise, NOISE!””

    I can see where some people need to use their heavy-duty tillers to bust through the sod at the beginning of the gardening season, but this year it seems, every weekend they’re out in force, using the tillers for weed control. The noise can be ear-splitting, even a distance away.

    My garden isn’t pristine, and sure, there are weeds, especially with a rain-drenched summer such as this one, but there are alternatives to using gas-consuming noise pollutants.

    A hoe, for one. This much quieter option might take a little more physical exertion than a tiller, but after testing a tiller once or twice, I’d stick with the hoe. At least it’s easy to put down and rest, as needed, compared with shutting off and restarting the tiller.

   An older gentleman at the city gardens used a manual tiller that he said he picked up at a yard sale for $5. Quiet and non-polluting, both in noise and gas emissions, the tool seemed quite effective at uprooting his garden’s weeds. If anyone is aware if these can be found, other than a garage sale, please let me know.

   My preferred method of weed control is using something I have in abundance: newspaper.

   I use it at home to create new flower beds and at my vegetable garden on the ground surrounding my plants.

   Early in the season, before the plants spread out enough to hold down the newspaper on their own, some type of “paper weight” is needed. For this, I use something else found in abundance: weeds.

   The method goes something like this: Lay down two to four sheets of newspaper surrounding each vegetable plant – this works especially well around tomatoes. Throw some uprooted weeds on top of the paper so it doesn’t blow away. After about a week, the weeds have dried and I cover this with a layer of another free mulch that I have in abundance: leaves.

   The leaves take a little more effort. Every fall,  I rake up a good 20 or so large bags of leaves from my honey locust tree, which I store until gardening season arrives the next spring.

   This newspaper/weed/leaf mulch keeps many weeds at bay for the season, and when city workers till the area in October, the newspaper and leaves are turned into the ground. Worms, especially, seem to like the newspaper.

   I know the method isn’t perfect – some newspapers blow away or a weed sprouts through areas not covered properly – but at least I can enjoy the sound of birds and carry on a conversation without having to go search for peace at the top of Mount Crumpet.   

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