in the vegetable garden
FALLEN GROWTH will be sprawling around the garden as you finish harvesting for the year. The residue from crops such as pumpkins and corn can be chopped up to hasten breakdown, covered with fresh horse manure – because it will have all winter to rot down too – and then covered again with either black plastic, carpet or a thatch of hay or straw.
Black plastic usage in our garden is one of the main ways we can control weeds and manage to save our backs. Its use has been the cause of much debate considering my strong dislike of using plastic, but on balance this is an ongoing compromise. The plastic is light enough to move around and folds up easily to cover pathways and control the weeds in the growing seasons. It lasts for years, provides cover for the soil, organisms and creatures against our high rainfall, and we can’t find any better alternative. However, suggestions are always welcome!
There is always the consideration of introducing more weed seeds into the soil with the addition of old hay and horse manure but when spring time warms the soil, we pull back the black plastic, add lime if we didn’t earlier on, and let the weeds come away. Then we kill them by covering the bed again with the plastic.
Then we repeat the process: off comes the plastic, another crop of weeds comes away and back goes the cover again. We will repeat this process up to four or five times if the season permits and it does help with weed control.
The bonus is, each time the weeds are smothered there is the welcome addition of more humic matter to the soil, and it’s good worm fodder as well.
Although it’s starting to get cold in May, there is usually time and warmth enough left for another planting of mizuna, rocket and cos lettuce.
We also have lovely, lovely feijoas, some of the easiest small trees to grow and all they require is a little fertility. We certainly get speedy as we process buckets and buckets of these essential little green jewels of taste and sweetness.