Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Easy cheesy weed barrier – Northern Sunshine Bed

In honour of the brand-new  2’ x 6’ square foot bed – ready and filled up at last! – I invented a clever way of keeping down the weeds (mostly grass, some strawberries, and miscellaneous other undesirables, as seen at the back in the lower picture):  the dozens of rolled-up freebie newspapers and flyer bundles that get tossed onto our porch that we never read.  (Village Post?)

I was stockpiling them all winter, thinking I would find some way to use them in the garden.  They’ve gotten rained on, snowed on, frozen and thawed, but they’re still tightly rolled with elastic bands.

So I took them and squished them down into the spare inches between the edge of the bed and the trellis, like this:

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They fit so tightly!  And there are about a bazillion layers of paper in each one.  I’m sure they will keep down anything that wants to grow there, at least for a few weeks… by which time I’m sure we will have accumulated even more rolls of waste paper.

Here are the undesirables, in the back, in this spot last year:

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See the soaker hose?

Looking through the last year garden pictures, I realized that I’m really going to miss the milkweed that volunteered in this spot the last few years.  Even the ordinary wild ones attract butterflies and smell nice.  As you can see, that area was an out-of-control berry patch last year.  But isn’t that tansy gorgeous???

I have scaled down the number of strawberry plants, but hope to have much more fruit from this non-runnering variety (“Seascape”), which I apparently planted two weeks ago

Here’s how it looks after Elisheva added fresh pine needles two days ago:

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I pay her $2 for each grocery bag of pine needles (she collects them at a local park).  The fee includes spreading around (but not ON!) the plants.  :-)

(this is 4 bags’ worth… strawberries apparently love acidic mulches like pine needles, and I suspect the pointy bits deter critters)

I guess the cage can come off now that the pine needles are on.  I found it at the curb beside our local school a couple of months ago and dragged it home to use for the guinea pig on the lawn.  But then I realized it was the perfect size to shelter 24 newly-planted strawberries!

I plan to remove it for a few weeks and if/when they start developing berries, maybe toss it over top again when they start getting ripe.  Not that a simple cage will deter a concerted mammalian or avian effort at berry-theft.

So here’s what the entire back of the garden looks like now in all its cheesy glory, with peas coming up in the square foot beds, and the newly-organized Northern Sunshine bed.

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Oh, yes… I have been working at naming the beds!  So I know what to call them, both here and when giving instructions to the kids (to avert an incident like last year when I almost tossed a handful of lavender into some food I was cooking!).

(“it’s the spiky thing next to the frilly thing” – ooh, not good directions when what I wanted was rosemary)

This is the Northern Sunshine bed because it’s on the northern edge of the yard, and also the very sunniest spot in the yard.  Looking forward to housing SIX happy tomatoes on a trellis there!

Will post here when I have the naming project done, hopefully later on today.  I’ve scanned the diagram of the yard already.  I’m sure you can’t wait.

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