Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Perfect Garden....no weeds!

I read once in a book that if a gardener achieved the perfect soil that weeds would not grow. Over the years I have come close to having a rich and perfect soil and still had weeds. Weed seeds can live over 7 years in the ground. A single weed plant can produce hundreds of seeds. I have been reading and researching lasagna gardening and square foot gardening. I had read the book Lasagna Gardening ten years ago and had applied some of the principles but hadn't really dug into it for various reasons. Then I was researching square foot gardening and think that a mixture of the two would work fairly well for me in my garden. Square Foot gardening advocates a mixture of peat moss, compost and vermiculite as a growing medium. Vermiculite is a mineral that is mined and it absorbs water. But in clay soil, it's pores can plug up with clay and it loses it's water retaining properties. It does not decompose, so I don't think I want that in my garden. Perlite is volcanic rock and it actually sticks to clay so it's useless in my garden too. I'll stick to what I know best. Adding organic matter that decomposes is the best way to build soil. I am going to try a test plot this year using some of the principles of each manner of gardening. Lasagna gardening is putting layers of peat moss, manure, compost, leaves, grass clippings etc in layers without mixing. Well, I don't have leaves right now, nor compost so I'm going to use what I have on hand and what I can buy. I'm not sure if I will buy compost for the simple reason that newspaper is often used in compost. Some websites say the ink is harmless and others say that it is not for gardens because of the components in the ink. I will err on the cautious side and simply not use it in my veggie garden. The newpaper is soaked and placed at the bottom of the Lasagna Garden to block out weeds. It works wonderful because I've used it as bottom mulch around trees that I've planted. I've read on the net that the ink can leave very small amounts of mercury, cadmium, lead and chromium behind. Again, maybe I'm over reacting but I really don't want to eat that stuff if I don't have to. I'll use cardboard instead, with as little ink as possible. Then, I'll buy some bagged topsoil, I have lots of horse manure and a couple bales of peat moss. Maybe some sand and some worm castings too. At this point, with snow on the ground, I'm not sure how this is all going to come together just as yet....I have to think about it. I want a bed that I can test how two plants of everything I grow will do in a compost bed. Setting the beds up takes time and energy and I think, over time, if I'm successful, most of my garden will be planted in this manner. I'm really curious how my test bed is going to work out!

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