May 26, 2011

Gardening with Mr. C. DIY Gardening Tip

This week Mr. C wants to help you get the most from your investment of time, effort, and expense (seeds, plants, etc) by helping you contend with the "curse" upon every gardner from Adam till now - WEEDS".

A weed is "an obnoxious growth which tends to out grow and choke out more desireable plants". Learn to identify the emerging plant (sometimes pictured on the seed packet) as soon as the 1st leaves (usually smooth) and then the true leaves (characteristic of the mature plant) appear. Everything else will be weeds (which don't grow in neat rows). Be like federal agents (T-men) who study the real US currency so they can better spot the counterfeit.  Notice the contrasting shapes in the pictures of cilantro (or coriander which re-seeds itself every year in the herb garden near my front door) and swiss-chard (which I planted in my main garden a few weeks ago) below.

                                     Swiss Chard                                              Cilantro
Don't expect to eliminate all the weeds, but controlling them is do-able. Take a tip from Barney Fyfe of Mayberry and "NIP THEM IN THE BUD !!". Visit your garden regularly to take in the marvels of Gods' creativity and to control the weeds. Here are the tools in my "arsenal".

The four on the left are my main weeding tools.  I use the edge and short side of a "Florida" hoe (1/3 the length of a normal hoe), and a long handled weeder to cut them off at the roots.  When I miss some, especially any that flower and start to go to seed, I use the spading fork or hand weeder (with knee pads) to loosten the soil around them so I get the root when I pull them (avoid 7 years of weeding from 1 years seeding). Then I spread a layer of compost (future topic - it is not the same thing as mulch) around the plants to discourage weeds, conserve moisture, and feed the soil so it can feed the plant roots.  I limit weeds in the paths with heavy (12 mil) black plastic held down with flat rocks (visable in the 05/15 - 05/22 blog archive picture). You can also use weed-cloth and spikes , newspaper, cardboard, or weeds that you have pulled. 
Note: If you haven't recycled your May 22 Sunday paper, I highly recommend you read, heed, and save the gardening article on pg.1E. The author has some excellent ideas.
Stay with it and soon you can enjoy the "vegetables" of your labor.

If you have any comments, tips or questions, please feel free to post a comment or send Mr. C an email at
Till next week - Mr. C

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