Gardener’s dream of vegetables, fruits, and flowers growing as prolific as weeds.
The dream begins with the arrival of the first seed catalog of the year. Flipping through its pages of bountiful produce and beautiful blossoms fuels our imagination. Images of healthy vines heavy with squash, melons, and cucumbers taunt our taste buds. The garden will be better and bigger and badder than ever before.
Seeds are plunged into our best seed-starter mix as soon as practical (or sooner). The seed trays are watched anxiously for any sign of germination. Then it’s under the grow lights.
Meanwhile, weed seeds slumber under a pile of snow. Spring brings warmth to the cold earth. No one watches as they unfurl their first set of true leaves. It’s not until they’ve crept into our vegetable patch that we pay them any mind.
If only it were so easy to grow broccoli and brussels sprouts as it is crab and bermuda grass.
Several months ago, Dick built two hugelkulture mounds. Digger dug a large trench, and Tractor filled it with decaying logs and branches, topped with forest soil, and compost. In the first year, the mound’s nitrogen will be bound to the decomposing process of the wood, turning them into sponges that soak in water. In two years or so, perennials will thrive in this micro-climate without the need to water.
Jane planted several varieties of squash, watermelons, pumpkins, and cucumbers as a way to anchor the dirt to the mound. The plants thrived, especially the cucumber; their vines crisscrossed and wrapped the hill. A host of insects – friends and foes – pollinate the flowers or bore into the vines. Toads or frogs hide under leaves.
Weeds have slowly taken over, but not for long. Jane spent the day tending to the plants, removing the weed pressure. Oops, an overripe overgrown cucumber. The cucumber plants outdid themselves. With jars of dill pickles tucked into the pantry and a crisper full of the vegetable, it’s time to remove its powdery-mildew vines.
With the last strand of grass pulled – straw is used to prohibit its return and cut down on the evaporation of moisture. Of course, we all know that Jane will be back to reclaim this mound yet again from the persistent weeds.