|On the Dobie Gillis Show - "Work?!"|
Today a reader asked about seeds. Did I use seed tape?
My approach to gardening is to avoid as much work as possible, especially when the work is completely unnecessary or unproductive.
Soil should not be moved around unless necessary. The colonies of soil creatures, from fungi to earthworms, do better when their established networks are kept mostly intact.
We began spring preparations by laying down Jackson Mulch wherever planting areas were anticipated. Newspaper kept arriving, so I kept buying shredded wood mulch.
To plant edible pod peas, we pulled back the mulch a bit, threw in loose peas, and covered the area with some mushroom compost - sanitized horse manure, really like rich soil. Some of you city-slickers will never make it in gardening, with those wrinkled noses.
We pushed some mulch back a bit and turned on the soaker hose aqueduct along the fence top. That took all of 10 minutes, to plant two fat packages of pea seeds. I ordered more and will run them back to where the fence turns a corner, about 80 feet of free supports for pea vines.
Seed tapes are expensive and not needed, unless we want plants to grow up like soldiers on a parade field. Instead, wide rows are better for more production and suppression of weeds. If the soil is disturbed weeds can grow, but the weeds will not grow where productive plants shadow the soil.
As Ruth Stout observed, some weeds grow on top of mulch or grow through mulch. Those weeds can be pulled and placed on top of the mulch. They have the nitrogen and moisture content that help the soil. Plants mine minerals and move them around when composting and mulching.
When seeds pop up through mulch, they have instant protection against weather extremes, wind and rain erosion. The mulch feeds the microbes that make soil fertile, while favoring earthworms, the apex of soil generation. Worm food equals worm casts (poop), and worm casts mean the best soil. Mulch is worm food.
We already have our fertilizer (Jackson Mulch) in place, and birds rummaging through the mulch will prey upon the insects and grubs that damage crops.
The difference with a new rose garden is that we will plant the roses in the lawn, then surround the plants with Jackson Mulch, turning the lawn into instant compost. So much less work! My parents would look at my short-cuts, and say "You are so lazy!" When I carried 100 pounds of shortening down the basement stairs at the bakery, instead of 50 pounds, that was so-o-o-o lazy. It saved trips.
My grandfather invented things, so I look at gardening as a way to save labor, which all inventions do. I made tons of compost in piles and wheelbarrowd them around the yard. Like Edison before the light bulb, trimming lamp wicks, I said, "There has to be a better way."
I like having a compost pile, because they is the convenient deposit place for all kinds of rotting organic matter. We had a whole layer of banana peels and coffee grounds on top, then our helper added a layer of leaves to make room for the peas. The sycamore leaves refused to rot, so they piled up in the corner of the fence. Maple leaves are far more cooperative, staying in place and added to the Jackson Mulch.
So someone can generate tons of mulch without hauling it up and down, around the yard on soft soil, in a weak, cheap wheelbarrow. Of course, the big construction wheelbarrows haul more and create even more work per foot. Spring soil is not the best pathway for moviing materials.
|Scarlet runner beans are relatively rare and hard to find late in the spring.|
Hummingbirds love their flowers.
Drugstores and hardware stores are not the best places to buy seed. I will get tomato plants at Walmart and Lowe's. Tomatoes are weed-like, ready to grow and fruit in the bright sun. I took some half-dead leftovers from Walmart, late in the season, and grew some grew tomatoes, even though they were growing in the crabgrass of the sunny garden (no newspaper under the mulch).
Bargain seeds, leftover seeds - no problem. That is late in the season. It is fun to experiment with inexpensive seed.
I have some definite plans for seed in the garden, so I buy from Burpee's website. They have a great system for ordering in each category.
If I cannot find an odd seed, like Scarlet Runner beans, I look it up on Amazon. They have the unusual items that the big companies no longer carry.
When I buy praying mantis egg cases, I will get them from Amazon, the only place I have found them this year. By that I mean they are not in the big seed catalogs, where I used to find them...and scarlet runner beans.
By sticking to one company overall, I get emails about specials and sales. That works well for roses, too.
I never regret buying too much seed, because someone can use the seed. Kids love to try gardening. I could have used more pea seeds, so I ordered a big packet in addition. Someone else will grow them. Mr. Gardener will probably be buying seed, so we can do some swapping.
Peas will be growing when asparagus roots arrive. We will just plant them along the fence, giving up a few pea plants in the process. The pea roots will help feed the asparagus.
|Keep your grandkids out of trouble - teach them gardening skills.|