Gardener's Grapevine 05.04.2011

Written by David Green.

By Jo Erbskorn

I walk around my yard daily in the spring. I know that sounds like a strange thing, but it never seems to stop amazing me how much a plant can change in one day. Sometimes it appears they change while you’re looking at them.

As previously stated, plants throw “babies,” and I consider these free plants either to enhance my garden or to give to friends. Yesterday I think I moved a greenhouse full of freebies. The dog lay on the ground nearby watching everything I did. I’d dig a plant out and walk over to a bed and dig another hole and put it in. She seemed happy to watch and relax in the spring sun…I thought. I heard a noise and turned around. Apparently the dog is not as dumb as we all thought she was, as she was digging my holes for me. This would have been OK except I was moving the bluebells out of my vegetable garden not into the middle of it.

My gardens have been in use for many years. For someone just starting a garden, it can be a great idea gone bad without a little assistance or knowledge. My first garden was in a spot that was used by previous gardeners for years and stripped of every nutrient there ever was. We grew two-foot tall corn and carrots that looked like they had been pounded into the ground with a sledge hammer. It took years to bring the ground back.

The first time I started a flower garden and had to move grass, I really questioned my sanity. It is very hard without a tiller and it takes a very long time to get the grass and roots out. I recently read an article about starting a new garden bed. They suggested using bags of soil with fertilizer in it, laid end to end in the area you want your new garden in. The soil comes in plastic bags. [See the June 6, 2010 Observer “Local Stories” listing on-line].

Slice the bags from end to end, leaving three to four inches uncut at the top and bottom. Plant your plants right in the bags and they are set for the year. If you want, you can cover the exposed plastic with bark or straw to hide it. After the summer you can pull up the plastic if you want to or leave it and use it as a barrier adding more soil the following year.

I found this to be a pretty crafty idea as starting a new garden bed with a tiller does not eliminate the grass issue. Grass and weeds will still pop up for a very long time and make the garden very unsightly. Using a product like Round-up can ruin the soil and take a long while to rejuvenate.

So if you are in the beginning stages of gardening, think about what type of start you want and the amount of time you are willing to invest. If time is in short supply, try container gardening, which I will talk about next week.

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