Decisions, decisions, decisions. Gardening is one giant series of decisions, isn’t it? Deciding what to plant, when to plant, where to plant what, when to fertilize, how to fertilize, how or whether to till, when to harvest, what to do with your harvest, when to give up for the season and pull out the remaining plants. So it’s not surprising that we tend to look back and start questioning some of the decisions we made earlier in the season.
For instance, I’m really, really second-guessing my decision not to put corn gluten meal down on our peas this year. I know they don’t need the nitrogen, since they’re nitrogen fixers. But the weed-seed-germination-prevention aspect would have been nice. We cannot seem to keep the weeds from taking over our peas, no matter what we do. When we try hoeing near the row, we let weeds grow between the plants that eventually take over. When we pull the weeds, we end up pulling up pea plants, too – they have such small, shallow roots! In the years we wait to put up the climbing fence to pull weeds, the vines don’t climb properly. When we put it up early, like this year, we can’t even reach the weeds to pull them when they sprout. <sigh>
We are starting to wonder whether we should have planted corn and squash at all. We planted a few rows in our “far garden” around the corner from our house, only to have the sand hill cranes eat 90% of our seeds. The dozen or so corn plants that managed to germinate got immediately choked out by weeds, and we decided it wasn’t even worth weeding. Out of 40 or so hills of squash we planted, only 3 have survived. In the “house garden” we planted 3 rows, but now they’re shading our tomatoes, which seems to be slowing the ripening. And a rogue squirrel keeps stealing ears from our stalks. Who knew those little buggers picked corn?!?
I’m definitely regretting my husband’s decision to plant 8 rows of green beans. Yes, we sometimes have partial crop failures of green beans, so it’s good to stock up the freezer & and cellar when we have a good year. And he did plant them at different times so they (in theory) wouldn’t all come on at once. But this was a good year, and the goofy weather made them all mature at the same time, so we’ve had them running out our ears. We ate some, froze some, canned some, pickled a few, gave a few away and invited friends to come over and pick some, and STILL had a bunch that got huge and papery and inedible. I just hate it when food goes to waste. Well, at least they’re shading out some weed growth in their rows.
Which brings me to our biggest annual decision/dilemma/hindsight consideration: not using chemical herbicides. This is the time of year when weeds run amok, and we can’t seem to get the weeds out of the garden before the form seeds. There are lots of bare spots in the garden now where there aren’t plants to block the sun to the weeds and prevent them from growing. In other spots, the plants are too big & bushy to get between for significant weed removal (did I mention I regret planting my tomatoes so close together?). We planned to mulch more plants this year (like our brassicas & potatoes), but couldn’t find a cost-effective source of weed-seed-free straw. So instead, the quick weed, lamb’s quarter and quack-grass weed seeds we’ve already got are all germinating and creating more seeds for next year. Is this the year I finally cave and Round-Up the garden to make a clean slate for next year? I’m trying to stay strong and stay organic and stick to “mechanical means” of removal, but this army of weeds is testing my resolve!