Warmed up to the mid 80’s and it felt good after those cool blustery days. I finished my shopping today with a three pack of propane bottles, a big bag of dirt and a Seed Geranium that only cost 99 cents at Freddy’s. I like that the seed geranium grows a bit smaller than the zonal type and it can re-seed itself zonal geraniums propagate via cuttings. I have the geranium in a pot for now but I think they might make a very pretty border plant along my sidewalk in the front yard and at a dollar each it would fairly cheap to add another splash of color to the front of the house. I never thought I would get into gardening and enjoy it quite this much. I seem to have made it over the hump of knowledge and being a lot more pro-active rather than reactive this year. I have moved just past the stage of a “beginning gardener” and started on the stage of an “intermediate gardener”.
The big bag of dirt I got was used to top off the soil in the potato buckets. The plants are starting to put on a few flowers and just growing like crazy. I was always killing the potato plants but using the buckets has worked great. The potatoes and tomatoes are really separated this year and I placed the buckets under a cherry tree and I think that has helped the plants not get too much sun. Next year I want to do more of the potato buckets now that I have had a bit of success. It was hard to isolate all the things I was doing wrong trying to grow potatoes. By using the bucket method it is easier to see what is right and wrong and fix it. Plus if you have a small growing space/area these buckets work great and they are cheap!
I got a good start on weeding the beds and overall the weeds aren’t to bad. I have grabbed a few weeds here and there before but hadn’t sat down and done a good weeding. The new raised bed did not need any weeding at all. That ranks right up there to a minor miracle to me. The two smaller beds needed a little work but the plants are growing nicely and almost choke out the weeds. The big bed is about the worse and even it isn’t too bad overall. I am cleaning out the weeds and the soil got that sort of clay baked crust appearance at the top layer. I will finish up the weeding and on the 1st of July lay down a thick layer of straw for mulch. The plants are getting tall enough now not to get buried in the mulch and I will add a bit of rabbit poo for fertilizer and I think that bed will start more healthy growth. A great thing about the set up of the new raised beds is I learned a lot about how to repair the soil on the old beds. Golly, this fall after the growing season will be busy. But by then my compost pile should be working good and hopefully I won’t have to buy so much stuff to improve the beds.
Where I laid down the wood mulch has been a very interesting experiment. A few spots I laid down landscaping cloth and a few areas I just mowed close to the ground and no cloth but laid the wood mulch right on the “grass”. A few impressions so far is it is easier to pull most weeds as the mulch helps retain water in the soil. Yes, you can take a hoe to some of the bigger weeds and then just rake the mulch back into place. Now my focus has been trying to improve the quality and for that goal I think just laying the wood mulch on the grass and weeding in spots is the way to go. Now if you need to kill off weeds but still want a good looking yard I would go with the landscape cloth or cardboard and lay the much on top of that this summer and then work on the soil fall and winter. I’m not an expert but this is what my early test results suggest.
Last but not least my aerating some of the back yard seems to be working, darn it! It’s a heck of a lot of work to do all that with just a garden fork even if the cash cost is nothing. I need to improve the soil a bit more and then find a grass that does well in the shade as well as this climate. The front yard seems to be looking a bit better since I De-thatched and fed about 1/2 of the front yard and working on the edible front yard beds. The plants are starting to fill in a bit and while slow,the beds are starting to looked better. Also on the plants from a store or nursery seem to have less transplant shock if you sort of break the root ball apart before you plant.