Reclaiming the Garden

There’s nothing I could say about weeds that hasn’t already been said.  Everybody is looking for the solution.  I think the best solution is to learn to tolerate them… to a point.  I’ve been educating myself recently on which ones are actually edible.  A surprising amount of them can be eaten by humans.  I was weeding today and worked up the nerve to nibble on some purslane.  It wasn’t bad at all and I was pleasantly surprised.  Grayson was thrilled.  He won’t eat brocoli or spinach but he thinks purslane is delicious.  Kids are hilarious. 

I bought a fantastic book recently at the Seminole Indian reservation called “Healing Plants; Medicine of the Florida Seminole Indians” by Alice Snow and Susan Stans.  It’s the first published record of Florida Seminole herbal medicine and ancient healing practices.  It explains the uses for quail’s foot and lizard tail.  Don’t get excited, they’re just plants.   I just love to learn about nature’s remedies.  I’ve gone off my topic though.  My topic is about removing the weeds and reclaiming my garden space from them. 

This was my vegetable garden about a month ago. No, I don't work in my garden everyday during the summer. I haven't done much work in it this summer at all... too hot.

 

This is my vegetable garden today. I reclaimed it. That's cassava in the picture.

 

The clear plastic I put down will solarize the soil.  The heat generated will kill the weeds, diseases and pests (especially nematodes) in the top soil and make our garden ready to plant in September (or early October).  It isn’t the ultimate solution though because the plastic breaks down rather quickly and then it goes into a landfill.  This method works best for me because I don’t have to use any chemicals (which I despise) and it gives me a reprieve from pulling weeds for a couple of months.  It actually gives me a much-needed break from the vegetable garden and keeps it looking tidy.  I tend to use this time to focus on my fruit trees and add manure around their bases.  The summer rains wash away a lot of nutrients. 

This was the garden bed yesterday.

 

This is the garden bed today. It could probably be described as back-breaking work. I think it makes the food taste better and be more appreciated.

 

Even after all the weed pulling, there are still weeds coming through all the cracks around my garden beds.  I can live with these.  They always go away in the winter anyway.  One of my big problems this summer was the eleven different kinds of mint we planted.  Grayson and I loved it so, so much.  Everybody told us not to plant it in our garden but we wouldn’t listen.  I rationalized it by saying that it would crowd out the other weeds that I didn’t want and every step through it would smell like mint.  It did smell lovely but it sent runners underground in all different directions and spread like fire.  I pulled every bit of it up and out of the garden. We will keep it in pots from now on… lesson learned. 

The African basil is thriving in the heat. The bees are all over it and dash madly from flower to flower.

 

Honeybees on the African Basil.

 

The papaya trees are loaded with blooms about to set fruit.

 

The coneflowers love the summer heat.

 

Sugar cane in our yard. We've given it a large area.

 

Our little banty chicken (the boss) has been extremely broody. We put the fertile duck eggs under her because the duck is not interested in being a mother.

 

We had to give broody "Sweet Pea" her own box because she was causing a traffic jam.

 

This is a new addition to the family. A friend gave her to us because she said it was time to get her out of the house. This young hen has been thoroughly socialized by watching T.V. with her 3-year-old in the living room. There are too many predators outside her house.

 

She is the sweetest little hen ever! She just wants to be held.

 

Our predators are inside our house. This lazy predator won't even kill a roach.

 

It's the dog days of summer alright.

 

The garden is always changing.

 

Come grow with us!

9 Responses to “Reclaiming the Garden”

  1. Hi there Lisa!
    Your blog is fantastic! Hayes and I have been visiting it regularly since we saw you in May. Please keep up the good work.
    Take care,
    Kim Browne

  2. 9bgardener Says:

    Re: Purslane. I occasionally stir fry it with garlic and serve over rice or as is. Best in spring before it flowers when plants are flush with new growth and, like all greens, when picked early in the day. Discard mature reddish-brown stems as they tend to be tough & poorly flavored when lightly sauteed. Enjoy!

    • Thank you for the purslane recipe! I know it’s edible and I always read that it is tasty, but I never knew how to prepare it. I will definitely try it stir-fried.

      • 9bgardener Says:

        You may find it more interesting than “more-ish.”🙂
        By the way, long beans also perform well for me into summer in zone 9b and can be grown in containers. Since your son seems to like curious things that are good for food, (Kids are, indeed, hilarious!), he might appreciate. What boy could resist a ‘bean stalk’ that tries to grow to the sky and sports beans 2 ft. long?
        Regards, Diana L.

      • Oh yes! My kids would love a bean stalk. We do have some Thai snake gourd seeds that sound similar. We had a problem with stink bugs this summer which really threw me off. I think I’ve figured out how to handle them for next summer. We didn’t get the vine crops that we’d hoped for this summer. We did get some, but they set us back. I will definitely get some of those long beans for the kids to grow… thanx!

  3. 9bgardener Says:

    Although not nearly as substantial a “stalk” as any gourd plant, the more delicate long bean vines are still well worth a grow. I like the black-seeded green variety. I’ll be watching your posts for an organic plan for pest control of stink bugs. They can really wreak havoc on a garden.

    • I read somewhere that putting a board down near the base of a plant with stink bugs helps control them because they will hide under the board where they can be removed. This past year, Grayson & I collected them with gloves on and put them into a ziplock bag. We kept the bag outside and would just go on a daily stink bug hunt to add to the bag. This actually helped ALOT! I think the solution is… wait for it… guinea fowl! Of course, they eat honeybees too and will actually sit by the bee hive. Not to mention that neigbors usually despise them. The stink bugs came like a stealth army in the night on us this past summer. We will be expecting them this next summer.

      • 9bgardener Says:

        Thanks, and Whoa! Maybe that’s why I’ve had less problems with the bugs in past couple of years. My “girls,” bantam Brahmas, Cochins, and a little Silkie, are expert foragers and make for the raised beds as soon as I open the gate to their yard. In the little time I allow them there before shooing them on their way, I know they pick and cultivate for weed control and have, no doubt, made a difference in the bug population.

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