We talked about the process of starting seeds indoors, especially in those colder climates. So, what happens after you move them outside? How do you combat those pesky weeds that just won’t go away? Why do your plants keep falling over? What the heck is the difference between annuals and perennials and how do you remember which is which? We ask these same questions, so here is what we have found to work.
When trying to maintain a toxin free garden weeds become a problem. There are a couple of natural options to keep them at bay, but the first step is to weed the garden. Yes, we mean getting out the knee pads and trowel. You have to get to the root of the problem, literally. If you just take a weed-wacker to them or just pull out what you can see they will keep coming back. Take the handy-dandy trowel and rip out the roots. Now that the hard work is done it is time for mulch. There are many kinds of mulch, wood chips, straw, or dead leaves are all great to cover your now weed free area. Be sure to layer it on thick. The main reason to mulch is to keep out the sunlight. An added bonus to mulch is that it retains water and helps keep the plants that you do want, moist. If you have a hard to weed spot or still have little buds popping through your mulch, there is a natural week killer that you could use.
Natural Weed Killer
1 Gallon White Vinegar
¼ Cup Dish Soap
2 Cups Epsom Salt
Please note that the Epsom salt will deplete the minerals in your soil, which is great for between paving stones or a on a mulched walkway, but not good in the garden beds. If spraying in an area that you plan to plant, leave out the salt.
Sometimes plants need a helping hand. They may become top heavy and begin to sag or have pretty little vines that like to take over. Whatever the problem, there are options. First things first, keep in mind where your viney friends are, like peas or squash. Consider giving them something to climb. We made a trellis out of some metal mesh and a couple of 1x3’s which did the trick. You could also purchase a trellis if you are going for something with a little more aesthetics. If you don’t provide these vines with support, they will grow wherever and take over other plants. The crops that they produce could also grow on the ground and begin to rot. Another plant to be weary of touching the ground would be your strawberries. Strawberry pots, fence boxes, or berry baskets that keep the fruit from touching the ground are great options when preventing fruit rot. Tomato cages are great for tomatoes as well as many other plants. We use them on our wildflower bushes that like to spread out. The cage keeps the bush contained and allows us to shape it the way that we want to. Last, but definitely not least, is garden twine. This stuff works miracles. A couple of tips. Don’t tie so tight that it cuts into the stems or branches and allow for give so that a gust of wind doesn’t pop off the tops of your flowers. It is great for tying up blackberry brambles to keep them from touching the ground and taking root.
Annuals vs. Perennials
By golly! Every year we have to Google the difference, and we know that we can’t be the only ones. Annuals need to be planted annually. They survive one growing season then die, so need to be planted again the next year. Most vegetables are annuals, as well as your planter flowers. This allows for variation from year to year, which is great, but not starting from scratch every spring is even better. This is where perennials come into play. Perennials come back from year to year, usually budding from the roots. Our wildflower bushes are perennials so are our hostas and the never-failing rhubarb. These are great plants to fill in space that you just don’t want to fuss over. When gardens have both varieties, it allows them to be full and colorful. It’s also fun knowing that it’s the same rhubarb plant that was planted 15-20 years ago!
Gardens can be a ton of work. The best plan is to get ahead of it. Any work that you do this season will make next season that much simpler. Plant the plants you want, get rid of plants that don’t make you happy. Most importantly enjoy the hard work and process. Three years from now your garden will have a story, and that story will continue to grow.