Weeding and Gardening, 101

Weeding has to be one of the most excruciatingly boring jobs in the world (thank god for my ipod).  I didn't realize this when we lived In Ireland.  Our entire garden consisted of a postage-stamp size lawn that mon mari used to cut with a scythe-thingy on the end of a golf club: swing practice and lawn trimming in one stroke!   In Andorra, it was smaller – not a lot of flat land in the Pyrenees.    So, when we moved to the Vendee where the highest elevation is fifty feet and we have 7 acres of land… I might have gone a wee bit crazy.  I was so overcome with joy at the vastness of it all that the first thing I did was dig up the lawn in front of the house and turn the whole thing into an herb garden – roughly 30 x80 feet, complete with gravel paths.  I still love it….but it is a bit large for the culinary needs of two people. 
Then there was the potager (vegetable garden)!  It's about a 5 minute walk from the house and a lovely area, surrounded by grass, roses and some huge trees.  I could see where the prior owners had their garden and decided one half that size would be right for us me. (In true French tradition mon mari roto-tills in the spring and eats the produce all summer – nothing more).  How wonderful to have all of this space – room for sprawling melon, pumpkins and cucumbers plus lots of sweet corn and tomatoes.  And asparagus!  Spent the whole first summer, everyday, all day tending that damn garden.  Big mistake was I let the weeds take control in the spring and I was never able to wrench it back.  I spent the winter reading gardening books (Amazon.com, .uk, and .fr – see side column).  Here is what I know now that I didn't know then:
Only plant what grows – Our ground is hard clay.  In year one my carrots were 1 inch (2.5cm) long by 2 inches wide,  I don't plant carrots…or parsnips.  Peppers don't do well, nor does (sigh) asparagus.
Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!  If your garden needs hoeing it's too late.  In year one I weeded constantly.  In year two I hoed for an hour twice a week – never weeded….not once! 
Efficient use of space:  My garden is half the size it was originally and I have more planted and get more food with less work.  Inside my 3 rows of sweet corn I have pumpkin and squash growing.  They like the shade and keep the weeds down in the corn.  Inside my 3 half rows of tomatoes I planted radishes.  By the time the tomatoes are big the radishes are picked.  Inside my 3 half rows of various green beans I planted melons.  I planted the pickling cukes inside the rows of dill, and the lettuce goes in and around the zucchini (courgette) plants and in every other little nook I find – it's all picked by the time the other plants get big.  The cucumbers go in with the peas and there is a border of spinach on the side with a bit of shade.  I vigilantly hoe all this until the vine plants get big – then they keep the weeds out for me!   
It's a much easier garden to handle, I get to enjoy summer and my vegetable freezer is full by the end of September!  If only I could do something about all of those roses…who needs 100 rose bushes, anyway…..

1 thought on “Weeding and Gardening, 101”

  1. You might want to try a “circle hoe”. I have one and love it! Much easier to get those bugger weeds without getting the flowers or veggies too.

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