I was just getting started in my garden this spring–had planted a handful of vegetables–when I came down with bronchitis and didn’t have the energy for any of it. That lasted over three weeks!
Now that I’m finally almost over it, I have a sad state of affairs out there. Weeds, struggling seedlings… where do I start?
BTW, I can’t spend tons of time out there–I’m way behind on things INSIDE also.
What garden zone are you in? That will help to know what you can still grow.
Oh sorry – I’m in zone 5a.
But I don’t think I want to start anything new right now. I just have a whole bunch of maintenance to do. Grass getting into the perennial beds, tree & shrubs that need pruning, a million maple seedlings all over the freaking place… and I don’t even KNOW anything much about the perennials I have, since I just moved into this house last summer.
Need to do garden triage.
I always find it helpful to spend a few moments sitting in the garden with pen and paper, looking around and listing everything that needs to be done. Then you can look at your list and prioritize.
Without being there myself and seeing the situation, here are my triage recommendations:
Skip any pruning except cutting out diseased and damaged wood until next pruning season (probably Feb. in your area.)
Is the grass seeding in or coming in from the edges? If it is from the edges, I would stop it now by edging the beds. If you don’t have an edger, a flattish garden spade will give you a pretty clean line too (it is what I use in my yard.)
Grass seeding in is a bit trickier as you may want to wait until more of the perennials are up before mulching since it is a new garden to you.
Don’t bother weeding until you actually have the mulch on site so that you can mulch as you go, and not give new weeds any chance to pop up! Or depending on how bad the weeds are-you may be able to get away with no weeding. Simply cover the space between perennials with several (at least 10) wet sheets of newspaper and then with mulch. This will smother the weeds between the perennials; if you have weeds growing in the perennials it won’t work as well.
In the veg. garden if you planted in rows it will be easy to use the newspaper method there as well. Make sure to use something that will break down quickly to mulch in the vegetable garden, such as mushroom compost or hay.
I believe the grass is mostly coming in from the edges, although there may have been some seeding also. I don’t have an edger but I do have a mostly-flat garden spade–I’ll try that.
Actually, in the main perennial bed, which is triangle-shaped in the corner of the yard with two stone paths running through it for access, I think a lot of the grasses & other weeds have seeded in.
I pulled a really obnoxious weed last night… it was like a dandelion on steroids. A burdock maybe? I also have to learn all these N. Illinois weeds. I grew up in the Seattle area.
Is straw OK for mulch? there is a farmer not far away who sells bales of straw pretty cheap. Otherwise I’d have to go pay more for something at a garden center.
Never mind about the straw–the farmer was out. So I went to a garden center. I was afraid all they’d have would be fluorescent wood chips ;-)…. but they had bags of composted cotton burrs. Sounded good to me. And they are from the area of Texas my husband grew up in :-D
Where I live, there is always free mulch available at the municipal brush dump. You need to bring your own bags or tarp or a truck and load it yourself, but hey it’s free! The village doesn’t exactly advertise it, so there is always plenty of well aged mulch, perfect for my perennial beds. It is worth seeing if your municipality has something similar. If they collect leaves etc. in the fall, they probably do. If you live in a city, they might charge for it. If your municipality is anything like my village (a little disorganized), you may have to call around a bit before you find someone who knows about the brush dump.
Another potential source of free mulch is horse farms. Often they have old composted stable bedding that they are only too happy to have you come and cart away.
It may take some time (maybe a project for next year when you’re not behind) but once you’ve found a free source of mulch it is usually available year after year.
Hay is a traditional mulch in veg. gardens, but it can rob nitrogen as it breaks down. Straw is older(mature) when it is harvested, so it carries plenty of seeds- not the best when you are trying to keep weeds out!