Friday, July 5, 2013

I Made TWO Giant Gardening Errors. Or The Time I Learned Two Lessons In One Day.

After pulling weeds round 2.

Well I did pronounce this my summer of learning.  And holy heck, I am swallowing my pride on this fine day, let me tell you, Bob!

Before pulling weeds round 1.

After pulling weeds round 1 and after straw.

I've shown you photos of my massive weeds.  I've since pulled them all.  Twice.  First I pulled them before laying down newspaper and straw.  But I didn't do a particularly great job of laying down the newspaper first.  And the weeds said a big eff you to me over that oops.  The grew through the thick {but apparently not think enough} layer of straw.  Plus I ran out of steam and straw.  And had to leave the entire tomato portion (center) open as I had seeds growing on either side.  Add to that rain, rain and more rain, which meant I wasn't at the garden daily.

Enormous weeds taking over.  Hard to tell where the onions are.

And well...I had weeds.  Like crazy, turbo, insanely HUGE weeds this time.

So I spent hours each day this week pulling those weeds.  But the left side of the tomato patch, which had all sorts of seeds planted, was last on my list.  For a specific reason.

Oh hey...there are the onions!  After weeds round 2.

I couldn't remember what was planted where.

I wrote it all down.  But that line of seeds never got from the paper into my spreadsheet.  {Oh yeah baby...I keep several garden spreadsheets.  I actually plotted the entire thing using Excel.  Woot!}  And I have been searching high and low for that piece of paper for a week now.

Well yesterday afternoon, it was time to finish up the weed pulling business and I had to do something with that side.  Lettuce was obvious, so that wasn't an issue.  I could easily tell a weed from lettuce.  Done.  But I could not for the life of me remember what I planted towards the front.  I knew parsnips were in there somewhere.  And maybe beets.  But as I wasn't sure what I was looking for and as I have never grown any of those things before and as it was 400 degrees outside with 700% humidity, I just started pulling.  And at one point, I held up one of those pulled weeds and smelled it because I thought, maybe this is what a one month old beet plant looks/smells like.  But then I convinced myself it was a weed.  And up they all came.

So you know what happens when you look for something for a long time and give up....  Right!  I found that damn piece of paper last night.  And quickly figured out that I pulled up one month old parsnips, beets and a variety of turnips.  Plus weeds.


I pulled out my seeds and I am going back today, before I head over for 4th of July merriment.

And this time, I will prove that I learned two {or more} lessons.

1. I will lay down a strip of newspaper (and eventually straw in a few days when I get up to buy more) in between the two paths of seeds.  This will both help me keep the paths very evenly spaced and keep the weeds from growing between the seeds lines.  It won't prevent weeds growing elsewhere, but it will help me visually to see things.

2. I will label my seeds.

I don't label things much after I plant them because even using a Sharpie, the tags eventually wash clean.  But they should last a few weeks or more until the plants grow large enough for me to get use to what they look like.

3. On top of that, I will keep a record in my master garden plot spreadsheet.  This has seriously been the most helpful tool for me.  Being able to access the garden details, color code things, move things around, etc has made this process feel so much more manageable to me.  It might not be for everyone but it seems to save me a lot of stress.  {Except when I forget to add things and lose pieces of paper.}

4. Like I did when planting carrots, I will add a few radish seeds in the line of other seeds.  Radish seeds germinate very quickly.  It's about 4-6 weeks between planting and picking.  So it makes it easier to see where the other seeds will be popping up.  Especially for seeds such as carrots and parsnips that take their sweet time to germinate.

4.  Before pulling weeds {because they WILL come back, no matter how well I mulch...just the nature of the beast}, I will make sure I know what I've planted in any given area.  Realizing I just pulled healthy plants, on their way to becoming yummy foods, was really heartbreaking.

What lessons {large or small} have you learned lately {in your garden or otherwise}?  Are you amazing at finding things the minute after you give up looking for them too?  I mean, I seriously looked for that piece of paper all week.  Gave up, pulled everything and poof a few hours later I was holding that piece of paper with my master planting list.  Argh!

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