From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Lazy Gardener's Garden

Mulch is the answer.


This is my 17th (or 18th?) garden in Kentucky. I've only had the garden plowed once. All the other years, I've dug it up myself with a garden fork. I do recommend a fork for digging, rather than a spade. It is amazing how much easier it is to dig with a fork.

I have considered getting a rototiller, but it seems an extravagance that would just take up room in the shed. I would probably only use it once a year.

Mulching out the weeds


You see, I don't waste time and effort in cultivating soil I'm not going to plant. I put some kind of mulch over every part of the garden except the beds where my plants are growing. I like to keep the weeds and grass down with mulch because I am not fond of hoeing.

This year, I covered my entire garden with two large sheets of black plastic. The plastic is held down around the outer edge with some large cut stones we happen to have from a couple of old chimneys. I used scissors to cut large holes in the plastic where I wanted to make this year's beds. 

In each bed, I dug up the soil very well and enriched it with a humus/manure mix and a little lime before setting the plants. In a few weeks when the plants are bigger, I will mulch around them with straw. The rest of the garden (everywhere but the beds) is still covered with the black plastic.

I've also used newspaper as a mulch with good success. I put down a layer 6 to 8 sheets thick and covered it with enough straw to hold it in place. Some years, I've bought end-rolls of newsprint from the newspaper office for mulch -- 6 to 8 strips thick, weighed down with a little straw.

Work in the spring, and relax in the summer,


I work pretty hard for a few days to get the garden set up and planted, but after that, it doesn't require much effort. I wander through and look for tomato worms and squash bugs and pull up any bindweeds that are winding their way up the tomato cage legs.

The mulch around the plants helps keep the soil moist, so a good soaking about once a week is all they need. Mother Nature often takes care of it for me. (If I could just teach her to pick the tomatoes and bring them to the house, I could really take it easy.)

Sometime after frost, I pull up the plants. It is best to pull up any plastic at that time also, as it will probably start disintegrating over the winter.

These ideas certainly won't work for everyone or every situation, but they work for me.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.