By Steph Larsen
Living things have a habit of not doing what you expect them to. It’s the nature of life, to adapt as best you can to the circumstances presented. But sometimes plants and animals can go places you aren’t intending, and the consequences can be minor … or catastrophic.
Take my garden, for example. This spring, I armed myself with a new notebook full of empty graph paper and the best intentions to record everything from weather conditions to which crops flourished and flopped. I researched how much space each plant needed and paced out the grids in my garden so that nothing would be crowded.
And then it rained, and both the notebook and my intentions drowned in the downpour.
As I look at this first garden at the farm, I have two distinct impressions. One is that the weeds staged a revolutionary overthrow against any kind of order I tried to bring. I’ve had to embrace the fact that I simply don’t have time for “immaculate gardening” where the only plants within my 50-by-50-foot square are the ones I planted. It was all I could do to keep up with planting and harvesting, and weeding didn’t make it to the top of the list as often as it rained. I am not a tidy person by nature, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
The rows of tomatoes and the bed of strawberries fared better than the beans and beets due to copious use of straw mulch. Next year, I will be much more liberal with my mulch use. I’d rather spend $4 on a bale of straw than hours whacking weeds with a corn knife. We were hesitant to use black plastic as a weed barrier, but perhaps next year we’ll give it a try. Readers, how do you feel about the plastic sheeting? Are there better, non-petroleum-based options that really work?
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