Gardening is work. It is a work of love, but it is still work. There are gardening phases that each garden goes through in its lifetime. There is the first few days when the earth is turned and exposed, the rows formed and the seeds planted. This is the phase we all love the best. The time of hope and dreams of great rewards.
Then there is the phase when the young plants are curling up out of the ground, shedding their burdens of dirt and reaching for the sun. This is the phase of birth, and of all the phases this may be the most exciting one. We watch and marvel at the mystery of the earth and seed. How do these tiny little pellets become full grown plants that can give us so much bounty? Marvelous indeed.
There is the season of bounty, when we are lucky enough to take nourishment almost directly from the earth. The taste of a just picked tomato still warm from the sun as the juices burst into the mouth is an experience that can not be described. Picking strawberries and filling a bowl, snapping peas or slicing a fresh onion, these are the rewards for our hard work.
But there is one phase, in between the planting and the harvesting that is onerous. Weeding. Weeding is an absolute necessity and it can be a seemingly endless task of bending over in the hot sun. But, there is a way to avoid the weeding. You can have a weed free garden if you choose to. A garden that doesn’t have weeds is a productive garden, and a beauty to rest a tired eye on in the evening.
Choose your spot. Someplace well drained and sunny. Then put a border around that spot. It can be bricks or landscape timbers or any number of landscape blocks, or edgings. Turn the earth inside the border, or not. Turning it is better, but isn’t strictly necessary for this garden. Turning it loosens the soil, allowing the new roots to go deeper faster, but not turning it won’t stop you from having a good garden.
Turned or unturned, this is the time to decide if you want to put drip irrigation or a soaker hose down, make that decision. Now cover the entire area with four layers of newspaper and soak with water. Choose only newspapers with black and white print, the color print may have stuff in it you don’t want. If you want to be very organic, use unprinted paper. Gather boxes of cardboard and open them out flat. Lay them over the area in two thicknesses. Each thickness laid in such a way that there are no cracks that go from the air directly to the paper. Soak these thoroughly for two days with water.
Layout your garden, on paper or in your mind, then cut small holes in the cardboard and paper, plant your seeds or started plants in the holes. The paper and cardboard will maintain moisture in the soil, block weeds and attract earthworms. Your garden will be weed free. You can enhance its appearance by putting mulch over the cardboard for a more natural look, and it helps in drought times too. At the end of the season cover the garden with clear or black plastic sheeting. This will keep the paper and cardboard composting over the winter.
By next spring the paper and cardboard will have begun to soften and disappear into the ground. The weeds and grasses that had been there in the beginning will have been killed off over the year. In spring you can apply more paper over the cardboard, wet it down, cover it with mulch and you are off to the races. There you have it, an instantly weed free garden that is attractive and functional.
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December 2012, a massive solar storm knocks out the power grid. Three hundred million Americans are suddenly faced with a survival situation. They have no water, electricity or fuel. Food rapidly disappears from the store shelves, not to be replaced. Only three perecent will survive. Those three perecent will have much in common. What does it take to be one of them?