The tour ended, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was a magician! Through a slight of hand, well, actually by pointing out different plants along the walk in order to take the focus away from where I didn't want her to look, we completed the tour without my friend ever seeing my vegetable bed. Even though it is very hard to overlook, I had managed to steer her away from the most embarrassing part of my garden.
Would she have understood? Probably. But I believed that I could magically transform it into a beautiful showcase by the time she returned for another walk around my garden.
In contrast to my friend's tour, when my sister came to visit, she got to see the vegetable bed.
But when she saw it, she cried out, "Oh, my! I was going to tell you to put down landscaping fabric, but I see you did! Wow! How did all those weeds grow on the fabric like that?"
That was a good question. My error was in putting a layer of mulch on top of the weed barrier. The mulch composted down, and in doing so, seemingly every weed and grass seed germinated and grew in this fertile base. But it wasn't totally the fault of the mulch, either. Much of the grass speared its way through the weed barrier. Bermuda is not easy to kill.
When I read that Janet of Plantalicious was showing "warts and all" in Helen of The Patient Gardener's monthly meme, End of Month View, I realized that if I joined in to show my vegetable bed every month, this just might be the motivation I needed to get - and keep - it in shape. So, here it is. My wart:
|from north east corner looking south|
|from east corner looking west|
|from north west corner looking south|
My plan is to get all the weeds/grass/mulch out/off of the landscape fabric. Then put down another layer. (And no mulch this time!) I will try to keep up with any weeds that poke though. Even though the weeds are in the pathways, not where I plant vegetables, I still want to use organic methods here, so I'll probably try using vinegar.
Can I magically transform this area? And not let it get out of hand? Not sure, but that's the plan!
We'll see how much I've accomplished next month!
Good idea Holley since you have a very nice area for a beautiful vegetable garden maybe posting about it on a regular basis will be all the motivation you need. Eliminating Bermuda takes time and patience. Try newspaper as an extra layer.ReplyDelete
I often use my blog as a motivator to take care of problem areas in the garden.
Thanks for the encouraging words, Shirley. I do think this area could be very nice, if I paid it a little more attention. It's amazing to me how fast things can get out of hand once it starts!Delete
Holley, Holley, Holley. It's winter. The weeds take over in the winter. Don't be so hard on yourself. Just don't invite anyone over during the winter!ReplyDelete
haha - I'm afraid this is more than just winter weeds! I worry if I don't get it out now, when it greens up it'll be even harder to remove! But, I'll take your advice about not inviting anyone over during the winter - the garden doesn't look so good in its winter bones, anyway! ;)Delete
Dear Holley, you might be surprised, but I honestly think your vegetable garden looks great the way it is! What I see when I look at your photos is a vegetable garden in the winter time. It has a beautiful structure, the way you laid out the beds and framed them with wood is perfect and visually appealing and I love the surrounding wood fence. Of course, at this time of the year the beds are empty and everything has died down to the ground. That is what I see :-)! But I hear you, the weeds will get green and lively again and will be happy to grow in the mulch and, of course, in a vegetable garden you would like to grow veggies and not weeds. I think, it is a great decision to take part in the End of Month View meme. It certainly will give you motivation to achieve your goal for this part of your garden and I am looking forward to follow along and admire your progress. - I had another thought. Your vegetable garden is as big or bigger than my whole garden. The work that your garden requires must be tremendous and as far as I know you do it all by yourself. So no wonder to me that you don't get done everything the way you want to. I always think that overall you do a fabulous job in keeping up your garden! Wishing you happy gardening and a lovely rest of the weekend!ReplyDelete
Christina, you are very kind. Yes, it has good structure, but it's useless if I can't get in there because of all the weeds! :O And you are right about my garden being quite large overall. It does take up a lot of time, and part of the problem was last year I volunteered to mow the yard, and my father's and grandmother's, too, to help us all save some money. (My husband has horrendous allergies so he can't do it.) This year I will have to organize my time a bit better so I can squeeze it all in!Delete
I'm so envious of the space you have for your vegetable garden! I do know what you mean about the weeds getting through the membrane. I had a similar problem on my old allotment, where I had put wood chippings down on top of the membrance. Even with cardboard underneath the membrane, the weeds still punched their way through and embedded themselves in the woodchips & membrane.
In my new garden, I got a landscaper to take out all the old grass/weeds (5-10 cms deep), then after putting membrane down, we added lots of purple shale (c. 5cms) on top. I'm hoping that will work better and stop any (or at least most) remaining weeds coming up. I'll find out this Spring/Summer if this has worked...
I've just joined the EMOV meme too, and I'll look forward to seeing how your vegetable garden develops each month.
Julieanne, your plan of action - digging out all the grass first - is ideal. That is absolutely the best way - and I think I've tried them all - but so hard to do on a big scale without the proper machinery. I hadn't thought to add shale on top. But, I think the key is getting it out in the first place. I'm glad to hear, though, that I'm not the only one that has encountered this problem.Delete
Very brave and admirable thing to do :) it's not a bad looking 'wart' at all and we reckon you'll be able to magically transform that area with ease.ReplyDelete
I am determined to transform it - through magic or just plain hard work! Unbelievably, every 3 ft x 3 ft area fills almost one entire lawn cart with old mulch, grasses and weeds! I think that if I get it under control, keeping it under control is going to be paramount to its success.Delete
Glad to see you posting again. I don't remember your garden having the raised beds and the fence all the way around. Was that a recent change? I mulch between my raised beds but don't have the fabric barrier. I guess the advantage I have is rain which makes it easy to pull the weeds.ReplyDelete
Yes, Marcia - All this is fairly new! I put additional raised beds in just last year (see http://dreamingofroses.blogspot.com/2013/03/veggie-beds.html) And then we put fencing around it (http://dreamingofroses.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-many-words-of-progress.html). So, all this disaster happened over the course of one year! It's incredible to me how the grass and weeds will take over if we aren't diligent in controlling them!Delete
The bones are good! I'm sure you'll kick it into shape. If magic is needed, maybe get yourself some ruby slippers and start clicking those heels as you garden!ReplyDelete
Kris, I'm clicking, I'm clicking! ;)Delete
Aw, it could be much worse! (I don't know if I'd dare show some of the 'warts' of my garden!) But it looks like a really great space that will look so nice with a little TLC! I look forward to seeing it when it's all prettified!ReplyDelete
Oh, I do so hope it gets 'all prettified' this year!Delete
I'd love to have the space to have a nice size vegetable garden. I think featuring it might help you keep up with it also but who knows. My problem with the times I grew veggies was the squirrels eating everything so I gave up.ReplyDelete
Cher Sunray Gardens
Sorry to hear about your fat, freeloading squirrels! Thankfully, I don't have squirrels. And the fence keeps the deer away. My main problem is the weeds. I hope having to post it every month will shame me into getting it into shape!Delete
A brave move to share your problem area.... I'm too much of a coward to bare all! Good luck with the new layer. (I am also envious of that veg garden!)ReplyDelete
I hope one more layer will keep the grass down. I can not shovel all of it out, so this is the only solution I can think of!Delete
What a great area you have for growing food... it's wonderful even in winter. The weed problem is a challenge, and you are right that the real solution is to dig up the grass completely, then start over. Landscape fabric, even unmulched, just is no match and won't be able to smother those weeds. In fact it sort of encourages the worst and most aggressive as they are the ones that can poke through and have their way in the nice clean fabric you laid down for them! Good luck, I admire your plans to get at this area and make it what you want!ReplyDelete
No! Say it's not so! I can't dig it all up and start over. I will just have to try another layer and try to keep the weeds at bay best I can. I know it will be a big task - in other areas where I haven't put down landscape fabric but have tried layers of cardboard, I've had to go back and dig out the grass. I was hoping the weed barrier would actually do what it's supposed to!Delete
Oh, if you could see my little wannabe veggie plot right now! You'd be quite happy with yours! I too have lots of motivation to get mine shaped up, but this frequent snow is getting in the way!ReplyDelete
I know what you mean about wanting to get out, but the weather won't let you. I have days like that, too. Thankfully, I live where I can still occasionally work outdoors pleasantly in the winter. In fact, winter is usually not as bad as our summers, when I have to stay indoors due to our high temps!Delete
The bare bones look fab ! It is mahoosive ! Good luck with clearing it, just keep thinking of all that fantastic veg you will be growing there in the not too distant future ! :-)ReplyDelete
Oh, I hope so, Jane! I love your positive attitude! I have actually been imagining it in my mind for days now - it keeps me going and working!Delete
Oh, my. I don't envy you having to get rid of Bermuda grass. That will be a big job. I fought it for 30 years, in our DFW garden.ReplyDelete
We live on a golf course here. When they overseed for the winter...with rye grass...we get a lot of it growing here. Especially this year. They had just done the seeding, when we had our Halloween flood. So, a lot more than usual washed down.
Not as hard to remove as your Bermuda...but, still a big job.
It would help if the weather would co-operate.
If you know about Bermuda grass, you know how hard it is to get rid of! I don't envy you getting rid of the newly seeded grass every year, either. I hope our weather doesn't go from uncooperative to hot! I need a lot of work days in between!Delete
The garden looks great even with all the weed/mulch on it. There is no need to stress so much about the weeds in the vegetable garden. If you have hot summers like I have weeds help a lot. Sure they don't look great but they will give you lots of moist it the mornings.ReplyDelete
You're just being sweet. :) The problem is I can't get to the vegetables because the weeds are so high! And I'm worried that if I don't get them out, I will eventually have just raised beds full of grass!Delete
It is funny that you see a wart and all I see is potential. How nicely you have laid out your vegetable plot Holley! I have had a similar experience with landscape cloth. Any pinprick in the cloth is the only opening a weed needs. My advice (gleamed from disaster) is to buy the best cloth you can afford and make sure you overlap it at least 3 inches. I wonder if pea gravel might work better than mulch for you? (I have both over landscape cloth.) Good luck with getting this area in shape. I have a similar area to tackle as well so I feel your pain.ReplyDelete
I have pea gravel in one area of my garden, and it has done well. But I had removed every grass and weed for several months before I put it down (no landscape cloth underneath). I would love to have pea gravel here, and I bet it would help, but just thinking about all that shoveling has cooled my enthusiasm for it!Delete
Hi Holley, glad my warts have inspired you ;-) Though as others have said, I don't think it is very warty at all, maybe more a (very large) ugly duckling, that, with a bit of weeding and tidying, and the loveliness of fresh growth, will soon be a beautiful swan. Seriously, it is a wonderful space, larger than mine but I know from experience how much work it takes, and will really enjoy watching what you do with it, I am sure there is lots I can learn for my own raised beds. Landscaping fabric - I have to be honest, I am truly not a fan. I know people who find it a wonderful time saver for planting veg and fruit through, but I don't know anybody who hasn't had problems with weeds using it on a path, including me at my old allotment. it seems that whatever you lay on top of it excess soil always collects and weeds germinate, and couch grass etc. seem masteful at poking their way through. Sorry, but if you know this you could maybe cover the fabric with chipped bark or gravel and just yank out weeds every now and then without worrying about it too much?ReplyDelete
Janet, I have never used landscaping fabrics in any of my beds, but I was really hoping it would work for pathways! Your report is very depressing, but that is exactly what I am experiencing right now. I guess there just is nothing known to man that will actually keep weeds at bay! I am almost convinced to try the gravel, except it is such a large area, it would take me forever to shovel it all in - not to mention the expense. A lot for thought, though.Delete
Can't wait to follow your progress. Will probably influence me to get out there and get my hands dirty too. You are one brave woman!ReplyDelete
I've been trying to get outside every day that I can, and that it's warm enough to do so. We never know how fast it's going to get hot, and I need all the work days I can get this year!Delete
Oh Holley, this is going to be a wonderful vegetable bed when you are through! It has all the right elements. I can picture something that I want to share with you: in Europe it is common to put a rose bush at the end of a row of grapes in a vineyard. In my veggie garden, I often move a tree rose out by a few of the raised beds--kind of a special decoration and to add more and more flowers into the mix. It would add height and texture to the space and make it rather elegant....ReplyDelete
What a beautiful image, Susie. I do want to plant roses outside of the fence, and I usually put some sort of flower inside the fenced area, too. I think it attracts the bees. I could put a tree rose with a single form in there - that would beautify the space, and attract the bees, too. Love your idea!Delete
I love your wart....it looks fabulous and I can't wait to see it transformed. Good luck as it will be hard work!ReplyDelete
You're right, Donna. It will be hard work, and consistent work keeping the weeds at bay even after I've forged a pathway! But I'm looking forward to seeing it transformed, too. In my mind's eye, there's not a weed in sight! ;)Delete
Weed barriers have never been but a source of frustration to me. I find it easier to put down a good layer of mulch, then pull by hand or hoe any weeds that pop up. In my climate there is no such thing as keeping weeds away completely, unless they are covered by concrete! Maybe in other climates weed barriers work better. I actually think that your vegetable garden looks just fine for this season. By the way, I never show my warts on my blog, and, believe me, I have some. That's a decision I made long ago, and one I am not likely to alter!ReplyDelete
I don't usually show my warts - only occasionally. But I decided to shame myself into action. If I don't keep up with it, it will return to grass, and I think showing it off every month will hopefully give me the motivation I need to make it a priority. And trust me - I've thought about concrete! But, oh, how hot that would be! Not to mention more work than I'm willing to do.Delete
I guess I would agree with those who said it looks fine. So you have a few weeds? Once the veggies get going, they'll fill in the space. Especially if you pull the weeds at the beginning, and give the veggies a good start. Have fun! Can't wait to see it in a few months!ReplyDelete
The problem is not with the beds, it's with the pathways. I can't even get to the beds for all the grass and weeds that have popped up! I even have tomato cages that are completely hidden by the tall grass!Delete
It must be a beautiful garden on the spring. So wide and neat beds.ReplyDelete
I'm hoping it will *become* a beautiful garden. Funny how our best plans are not always consistent with what Mother Nature throws at us!Delete
I totally commend you for showing your garden warts and all. We love our gardens even tho we are never satisfied when it comes time to share them... It is the nature of gardens and gardeners, but truth is beautiful, too.ReplyDelete
Look up the reports on weed barriers by Linda Chalker-Scott. She examined the scientific studies about weed barriers and not only claims that they do not work very well causing more trouble to get the weeds out than if they were not there, but that they harm the plants you want to grow by creating a barrier to moisture and air, no matter how big the holes may be.
Love your garden and your writing, thanks for posting!
I did look up those reports, and they were as I suspected, but hoped not. I have no idea how else I would make a pathway in this garden, though. I am going to have to make it work - somehow! It's just that that somehow may take a lot of trial and error! Thanks for commenting.Delete
The lay-out of your vegetable garden is already beautiful, you just have to remove the weeds. Every first of the month a photo of your garden shall give you motivation to get to work. I am sure it will succeed.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Janneke! That is my plan exactly! I just needed some extra motivation, I think.Delete
I agree with Janneke. You have a beautiful foundation to work with. Don't get beaten by a weed. They aren't the boss of you! :o) Have you thought of laying stones or bricks as a pathway instead of fabric? It would help control the weeds. Even big commercially made stepping stones would work.ReplyDelete
I should think about stones or brick - I just didn't want to deal with the expense! Thanks for saying the weeds aren't the boss! Sometimes I forget that! :)Delete
You have a great space for your vegetable garden. The layout is good. Bermuda is a pain!!! Good luck with the vinegar. I use newspapers to smother it out sometimes under soil or mulch depending on the space,ReplyDelete
I have never had much luck with newspapers, even cardboard doesn't do as well as I thought it would against that blasted Bermuda. I was very disappointed with the black cloth, but I think my main mistake was putting mulch on top. I have no idea how the vinegar will work - I've read about it, but have never tried it. I usually just pull weeds, but since this is grass growing through the plastic, spraying it seems more practical.Delete
I love your vegetable garden layout, Holley! I don't care of weeds, if the veggies grow well. If the weeds are big I try to fight against them after the rain when the soil is soft and I can weed them with their roots.ReplyDelete
You're so right, Nadezda! Waiting until the soil is moist, and the roots pull easier, is important, especially in trying to get all the root! I need to remember to water before I pull weeds, if it hasn't rained.Delete
The basic structure looks perfect for some great results this year Holley.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Aiistair! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for great results!Delete
That looks like a great space to work with. I bet you will have it tip top in no time. Good luck!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Kelli, for your encouragement. If I can just get it there, I think I can keep it there! :)Delete
Like the others, I am not a fan of landscape fabric, and I think your vegetable garden looks just fine! You have such a beautiful, well-maintained garden that I'm not surprised you think this qualifies for a "warts and all" post, but in my yard, this is just business as usual! My whole garden is a wart.ReplyDelete
Sarah, I don't believe you for a minute that your whole garden is a wart. But I do believe that all us gardeners have a wart somewhere in our gardens! It is just in our natures to add on until we have over-extended ourselves, and therefore, we don't get it all done, and a wart grows. I'm afraid you didn't look close enough if you think my vegetable garden looks fine! :ODelete
I've been known to use police caution tape to rope off parts of the yard I don't want people to see. 'Caution, some weeds cannot be unseen.'ReplyDelete
I haven't tried landscape fabric, but I am guilty of using hay and straw mulch. I put it on thick, taking a cue from Ruth Stout's book. "If weeds pop up, plop more mulch on 'em.' Ok, maybe not elegant, but I do have to admit, my soil is really improving. But it takes lots and lots of straw which I get free from the local fair association after the cow sales. And there are a few weeds I don't think I'll ever conquer, no matter how deep I bury them. But I'll keep trying...
I think your raised beds are wonderful, love the configuration.
Police caution tape! hahaha - Karen, you crack me up! But, I just may use that next time! :) I'm not sure Bermuda grass would ever be killed by mulch - there are reports that it will come up through six feet of dirt! I do agree that mulch of almost any kind is wonderful for the soil. If the landscape fabric doesn't work out this year after all this effort, maybe I'll give something else a try next time!Delete
You have a huge area as your vegetable garden -- wow! so much space. It looks very clean and tidy and perfect to my eyes. So, you can proudly show the garden to your friend.ReplyDelete
I hope I'll have the pathways cleaned out by the next time she visits. Eventually, she'll figure out that she didn't see this area! :)Delete