Every year, around this time, I have the best intentions for the garden. I imagine all sorts of ambitious garden projects. And in my mind, our garden is green and lush, without one single weed. There's this guy at the garden plots who figures prominently in these fantasies. He's the gardener I'd like to be when I grow up. He's out there every morning. He pulls the weeds before they even surface. We used to think he used some sort of chemicals. Nope. Just a really active, dedicated weeder.
I am not this guy. Typically, by early July, I'm talking a lot about how much I plan on weeding. But in actuality, I'm climbing through two-feet high tangles to get to the Black Krim tomatoes. Scratched and sniffling, I keep bitching about the weeds. Then, planbreaker and df head out one sweltering morning to actually do the weeding.
All of this is simply to say that I'm really going to miss df and planbreaker this year. They're kind of like my gardening conscience. Now that they live in an important node point in the global economic system, what will become of the garden?
So, I did some research, trying to figure out how to minimize the weeds. I found this helpful little article, which praises the benefits of mulching. We've sort of been mulching, by laying down straw, but it appears that we can it one step further. Mulching not only controls weeds, but also helps to increase your crop yields (scroll to page 7 to read about an organic mulch experiment in Peoria). This is because mulch enriches the soil and helps to retain moisture. Since we've had problems with blossom rot in the past, as well as weeds, mulch really seems like an all-purpose answer.
The cheapest mulch, and one that seems to be very effective, is made from shredded leaves. You spread this around the plants, and it diminishes the number of weeds substantially. I have tons of leaves in my yard, and am wondering if we could use these. Apparently, you're supposed to gather and shred them in the fall, which I didn't do, but I wonder if this is really necessary. I mean, do you think we could just rake up the leaves out there now and then shred them? Or is this crazy?
Overall, what do you guys think of mulching? It's no replacement for planbreaker, df, rj, or js, but it seems like our best shot at weed-control this summer.