Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Garden Remodel and Mint Invasion

The peas are in the ground! Finally! I don’t know that I’ve ever planted them this late. (the picture of the planted peas was just dirt, so I took a picture of crocuses instead.)  This year’s garden is going to be a haphazard affair, it seems. We’ve got a construction project going which has forced me to relocate my strawberries, another chore I took care of this weekend. They wouldn’t all fit in the temporary bed I prepared for them, so some of them went in pallets. I’ve never tried this, but am hoping it works.

The driveway is being expanded and repaved- a project that has been overdue for at least ten years. New terraces and swales are being cut into our hillside to fix drainage issues. In the end, I’ll have two new huge garden beds! Well, since I’m losing one (the strawberries) in the process, it’s only a net gain of one bed. But as long as I’m still sending the garden to lawn ratio up, that’s all that matters.

This is the garden that's going -(I built that wall myself ten years ago by the way)

I’m a little nervous about one aspect of the garden remodel. In the bed where the strawberries used to reside there is mint. And when I say there is mint, I mean the entire bed is overrun, underrun, completely overtaken by mint. The strawberries have generally been able to hold their own in the battle for control, but the mint has always been on the winning end and I have to ally myself with the strawberries by mid summer and ruthlessly pull out any and all mint I can find. That still leaves plenty by fall when I cut it and dry it to make mint tea. My concern is this – when the old bed is bulldozed and the new beds are terraced into the same hillside, will the mint be EVERYWHERE?

I know from past experience that even if I can out all the mint I can find before the actual bulldozing, that won’t eradicate it. Mint is powerful. Maybe the most powerful plant in the entire gardening world. (well, maybe except the kudzu vine which is taking over the entire eastern seaboard as opposed to only my gardens)

Consider this post your warning. If you plant mint, and there is every reason to since it’s delicious for cooking, makes great tea, and comes in a bazillion flavors, plant it in a container.  And even if it’s in a container, you must still stay vigilant. I planted chocolate mint in a whiskey barrel next to our garage and I find chocolate mint popping up in the cracks of the driveway and in flower beds that are nowhere near that barrel. So plant mint at your own risk. And those aren't sticks in the picture below, those are invasive mint roots I turned up with my first shovel full of strawberries!

Another new planting method I’m trying this year, in addition to the pallet beds is seed tape. I’m excited to try planting some different colored carrots using the tape. I’ve avoided planting carrots the last few years, because thinning them and weeding them is tedious and the crop is small and bizarre-shaped thanks to our rocky soil. No matter how thinly I plant carrots and lettuce, I always have too many and between the weeds and their wee-size and feathery nature, thinning them is near impossible. So I’m giving seed tape a try in the hopes that I can grow yellow and purple carrots like the delicious ones I bought from a local CSA.
Seed tape is biodegradable tape that you adhere your seeds to and then plant. This way I can use reading glasses and tweezers and plant exactly how many I want in exactly the right distances so there will be no need to thin. I’ll let you know how it turns out. And in case you want to give seed tape a shot yourself, I bought mine at Pinetree seeds.
Because there are so many changes and experiments going on this gardening year, I’ve decided to add another feature to the blog. I don’t want to bore those of you who have no interest in gardening (for shame!), so I’ve added a side bar on the blogsite called, “This Week in the Garden.” I’ll post pictures and updates there. If you receive my blog by e-mail as a subscriber, you’ll have to click through to the blog to see the pictures.

One last note, for locals. If you’d like to come and dig up some mint from my about-to-be-bulldozed garden bed, let me know . I’d be happy to share. There may even be a stray strawberry or two left in there, too. 

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