The weather’s been nice enough in the evenings lately that we are spending time sitting out in the gazebo with a glass of wine. One of the things I noticed last night was that I haven’t touched my forgotten bed, the one directly behind the gazebo. It can stay forgotten for much of the year if I let it, because I hate it and it’s not visible from the front.
I hate it because it’s filled with things I can’t get rid of, like burdock and nettles, and unless I completely cover myself, I have a horrible reaction to the nettles when I try to get them out. I’ve cleared this bed every year in the spring, and by the end of the year, it’s back to six foot weeds because I just hate working in it and it’s hidden, mostly. Everything I’ve ever planted in the bed is smothered by the weeds, except for one tough rugosa rose left over from our old garden, that we love.
I thought I’d try something different this year, try to reclaim it using lasagna gardening techniques. So Frank helped me pull the big things like the burdock, and we got out as much of the roots as we could, though not all, unfortunately. Then I used hand tools to clear out everything else. I covered the bare ground with Preen, which will theoretically keep new seeds from sprouting.
Then I put about a dozen bags worth of coffee grounds on top of the soil, including the old filters. I put it on thick, probably two inches, and made sure I covered it all.
I next spread out cardboard and newspaper, covering the entire bed. I decided to try lining the bed with rocks to see if that will help with the mowing around the bed and to hold the cardboard down. I watered that really well, then Frank covered it with the last of our pine-bark mulch pile, thickly — probably four inches or so. I soaked the whole thing really well.
So theoretically, the cardboard will decompose, the earthworms will be attracted by the coffee grounds, and the weeds won’t come back. (I wish! I hope.) It looks lovely now, though bare, but there’s just no point in planting anything in there until I know I’ve got those weeds under control.
Although it’s not completely bare — Frank pulled out some baby tiger lily seedlings out of the mulch pile, and I put those in there. I figured if they were growing in the mulch pile, they can grow in the mulch in the bed. The mulch mountain has lasted us three years, and it’s right next to the old foundation. As we’ve gotten down to the bottom, the daylilies and tiger lilies that are so thick around the old foundation are just all through the last of the mulch.
When we were finished with that bed, I continued my weeding around the other side, which is the last part of my spring clean up — the big slope, which mostly has iris on it. I found out (the hard way) that the hill was created by the landscaper with fill, which meant it was horrid soil and everything I planted in it died, except for the iris. For a while, not even weeds grew through the mulch, though that is certainly changing now.
I didn’t quite finish that bed when I got pulled in because it started raining and I was exhausted, by I got the forsythia pruned and much of the weeding done. I found vetch throughout the bed, in bloom (pretty but worrisome) and smothering all sorts of things. I know it’s late to prune the forsythia and I’m probably sacrificing some blooms next year, but they didn’t actually bloom for us this year, so clearly needed help.
Frank continued laying drippers in the front bed, where all the tulips and lilies are. He finished the bed right in front of the house as well, and then ran out of supplies. He and I are having a disagreement about whether or not the stuff should get covered with mulch. He thinks it looks fine just laying on the ground, I think we should covered it with mulch. (yeah, I know we are down to the bottom of our pile, but I still don’t like the way it looks when it shows.)
All sorts of new things are blooming today — the false indigo is out and looking gorgeous. The dahlias and glads that we planted at the beginning of the month are just starting to poke through, which I’m very glad to see as I was getting nervous. But mostly, it’s iris time. I did a little deadheading of the Marlow ones but they were really the only ones that needed it.