Farmgirl Gardening Series Week 9 (weeds, water, and radishes galore!)

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Well we barely kept it watered this week, didn’t thin the carrots, and the weeds are moving in, but just like housework, the garden work will wait for us!

The plants are now getting big enough that we can wield a hoe to combat blankets of overnight weeds.  There is still some hand weeding involved too.  Try to do one area each day.  Some weeds will try to look like a vegetable.  Take care not to weed out your corn!  Crab grass looks like corn when it’s coming up.  Corn has more rounded leaves.  If in doubt, leave it, you can figure it out in a few days!

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Some of the wild roses had to come out to make room for the green beans!

We hand water.  20 seconds in a four foot span is 2 inches of water.  Ideal for proper growth.  It will be nearly dry tomorrow!  While hand watering you can also see which seeds didn’t germinate (I don’t think I will buy that brand of seeds that I got from the garden center again, none of them came up) and see what weeds are sneaking in, how many rabbits visited, what bugs are there (hello cricket!  goodbye red ants!), and how everything is coming along.  We have found that this is the most economical and environmentally friendly way to water.  You use far less.  Drip systems, just like sprinkler systems break, get holes in them, and waste water.  Hand watering puts you in control and only things get watered that need it and how much they need it.

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We did receive a pleasant surprise!  Lisa sprouted a sweet potato in her kitchen.  She gave me the orb with its lovely shoots cascading everywhere.  I very nearly kept it in the shop as a house plant, it was so beautiful!  I separated the shoots and planted them along the trellis.  Sweet potatoes are not easy and not commonly grown in Colorado but it was worth a shot!  The beautiful leaves and stems shriveled as the roots took hold.  Low and behold, there are the leaves coming back!

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This week Maryjane and I just enjoyed the garden.  That is what is it there for.  Sit and relax.  Right now we have radishes coming out of our ears because I get to missing them so much that I get crazy planting and every single seed germinates, I swear, and then after a few dozen radishes, we are done.  That is when they really start growing!

Here is our favorite way to eat them: Butter crackers, place sliced radishes on top, sprinkle with smoked salt.  Delicious!

Our garden is doing pretty fine this year.  This week we will thin plants and cheer the corn on.  They need to be knee high by 4th of July!

Winds of Change

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The warm wind blew around me foretelling a light rain to come.  The mosquitos lessened and took cover as I pulled bindweed and thistle.  I don’t know why I would be weeding a garden that I cannot harvest from but I looked down the other day and noticed my nails were clean.  The lines in my hands were free of earth.  I had to get back into the garden.  I pulled weeds and counted what was growing.  Rows and rows of crops are waving proudly in the prairie soil.  Plants growing heartily in the prairie without much amendment and among weeds and voles.  My goodness, I think I can say I have a green thumb now.  How easy it will be in the city.  I begin to cry.  The cows are lowing loudly to capture the attention of the males across the road and the owls sweep grandly from tree to tree and the wind carries on it the sweet smell of first cut hay drying in the sun.  The country holds a place in my heart that cannot be tethered.  But it is not meant to be for us now.

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There are great opportunities in the city as well.  Wonderful folks to meet and wilder animals coming through from the mountains.  Its own beautiful scenery and friends to be found.  And seeds.  I can always plant seeds.  A message from a friend and I now understand.  It is sometimes hard to step off and go with the wind in a new direction but there is always a reason and the Creator knows where we are going in this sliver of time.  We just have to hold on to the tailwind and be on our way.

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Out Hoeing Around

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Ever the comedian, in Blazing Saddles form, Doug walked around the local farm store asking salespeople, “Where da hoes at?”  He was met with eyes lighting up and laughter.  I cut down a different aisle.  Alas, we live in a small town and everyone knows who I belong to.  One salesman turned a corner, saw me, and said, “You hoeing around this weekend?”  Laughter.  Men.  Gotta love them.

Since I dug up the whole front yard and side yard I have over tripled my garden space.  I have no desire, nor the time, to hand weed and my small spade just isn’t cutting it this year.  I remember reading one my favorite books (which somehow missed the list of my Top 10 Garden Books), “Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology” by Eric Brende.  He was trying to weed his extensive pumpkin patch when an Amish fellow showed him how to use a hoe.  I figured I needed a hoe too.

The weeds are ever so happy this year, joyous, dancing, that I am watering daily and for the rain.  The sun makes them stand up and shout, and I am feeling a bit like the Headless Horseman, or the Queen of Hearts, “Off with his head!”

It really takes little effort to use the hoe.  Your frame doesn’t really move, but stays upright and with simple flicks of the elbows the hoe shoots out, chops through the weeds, or in the case of smaller weeds, dislodges them from their soil source.  You will have to do this at least once a week because there are thousands of weed seeds because, guess what?, they are the native plants here.  Not the heirloom warty pumpkin.  Even pulling the weeds from their roots (which is sometimes necessary) will pull up a hundred more of the buggers in its place.  The weed battle shall never be won.  Much like laundry and dishes.

But that is what organic farming is all about.  Weeds love organic farms, so do bugs.  So do I.  So I lose up to 30% of my seeds to hungry birds.  The rest of the Swiss Chard to the leaf miners.  Last years roses to grasshoppers.  But what I do get is delicious produce that feeds and fuels us and our customers.  Packed with nutrients, and not packed with pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides!  I’ll opt for the hoe.  My biceps are looking pretty nice and I don’t mind being known as the girl hoeing around town.