Where the Garden Becomes Real...
May was (WAS! where did the time go?!) a busy busy time. All of the sudden, the clouds parted and warmth streamed in! With a sudden heat wave kicking off the month, there was a lot to get done... beginning with actually preparing the space for the garden.
Now, this year is really a temporary garden. A year to understand the soil, the weather, the other inhabitants of the wild wild NE that adjoins the grassy 'knoll'. The permanent garden, if all goes well, will be in a different and dedicated spot. Meanwhile, I figured, I may as well kick off the learning and start in a smaller scale.
The area I picked had South and East exposure with sun through all early morning and with shade creeping from the wall side (call it North Side of the garden) from about 11am till evening. Still, the Southern most part of the garden continues to get some, if weak, sun all day.
This spot is adjacent to the house and originally had a maple tree that we cut down. It was a young maple and as such should not have very deep root systems but as I was finding out over the month, even a shallow tree root system is still something to be wary of.
In Connecticut, you find a lot of gardens that use a particular ground cover - Pachysandra. It is convenient in that it has rabid sprawling growth, effective in that it stays green through Winter and snow cover, easy in that it grows in sun or shade. In short, it propagates like a weed and can easily take over the area if let unmanaged. It has also become rather a native to the state because of its prolific use.
I happen to intensely dislike it.
If you look close, it looks like a tangled head of hair. And, much like that unattractive nest, is a cesspool of dried leaves, ticks and other things. Clearly it had to go, even if the space was not going to be used for the garden.
It is great ground cover but most definitely a weed!
getting rid of pachysandra
Fortunately, it is not difficult to weed it out. If the plant has been there for a long time, then its root systems do go deeper, especially, if as it usually is, it is planted around a tree. But, you can simple tug on the above ground part and start dismantling it.
Once you have the shallow stems and leaves out, you can dig out the rest as you go along tilling the ground for new planting. The good thing about working a patch that had a weed like pachysandra or another growing is that the top soil is usually rather rich, loosely compacted and full of happy earthworms. Also, birds tend to be around often because of the worms -leaning to good pollination. In that way, tilling ground that was recently weeded is more advantageous than tilling through a grass patch.
Clearing the 80 sq ft patch took me a couple of hours, spread over two days. I had a lucky break of some rain the third day, which made tilling and turning the land easier after the rains as the ground was soft. As I mentioned before this patch was dominated by an young tree, so the roots of the pachy were not that deep. I lucked out (not so much with the flower patch downhill where there was 10 year old birch that we took down).
Once it was cleared, I attempted to plan my plan with plant patterns. On my list were the seedlings I had germinated indoors and also a few older seedlings and herbs I picked up at Home Depot. I had also saved some butternut squash seeds from a fruit I had bought; as well as potatoes that I had unintentionally sprouted.
So the list was - Peas, Tomatoes, Peppers, Potatoes (fingerling and red), radishes, onions, basil, rosemary, cilantro.
Ready for the next day and planting to begin. Woot!