Gardening, plant babies and weed control

2009 is starting off as a great year for the garden. As you can see here, the plant babies are growing strong. We started the plants in the green house, rather than using plant lights, and you can see by comparing these photos, just how well they are doing.

plant babies a week later
plant babies

My two youngest, inspired by the “Little House” books, decided to plant wheat. We had a section of yard where a tent was left out a little too long, killing off the grass. They cleared out the dead grass and had a perfect place to grow wheat.

Rather than purchase wheat seed, they used some un-ground wheat berries we already had. The wheat sprouted and is growing fantastically. The patch is just the right size for us to learn the entire process, from growing to harvesting, without being overwhelmed with work.

I’m sure that fresh ground, home grown wheat will make totally awesome sourdough bread.

a small patch of wheat

Last year, after reading that roto-tilling is a no-no, we started looking for alternative ways to control weeds. In last years garden, we pulled the weeds and used them around the plants as green manure. While this worked, it was quite a bit of effort.

This year, we are trying some different methods. In one area, where we have bindweed, we planted buckwheat. It’s very competitive and should smother out the bindweed.

In other areas, we have straw from the chicken barn, PVO (Peas/Vetch/Oats) and black plastic.  The chicken barn straw has chicken manure in it and works quite well, but the chickens only produce so much.  

PVO is a ground cover mix from Fedco seeds.  It’s planted in the middle section in the photo below.  Later, when we are ready to plant our actual food crop, the PVO will be turned into the soil.  

The last section has black plastic.  The plastic blocks out the light and works well, but it’s not very sustainable.  It also does not allow water to reach the soil and hard to keep in place.  We had high hopes for this method, but it was looking like it would not meet our expectations. However, as you can see by the bottom photo, there were relatively few weeds. Also, turning the spoil was much easier than if we had not used the plastic. There were many worms and bugs, indicating that the soil was still alive.

3 types of weed control
3 types of weed control
Results of black plastic
Results of black plastic

I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year turns out.

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