Garden School:


Garden School:
Teaching this week: Rose pruning (as always!) and leaf mold.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Mon: Weeds, weeds, and more weeds

Yup, four hours hard labour weeding the Prairie beds.

But oh! so worth it, the left hand one is now completely clear, chopped and weeded, and I've made good progress round the right hand one. If the weather holds - and I was in shorts today, yay! - then on Friday I should be "finished" in those beds.  "Finished" in quotes there, as no doubt there will be a new round of weeds springing up in no time at all.

Talking of springing up, here's a nice example of what some large grasses get up to as they grow:

This is a Miscanthus sinensis Variegatus, and you can see clearly how it is forming a circle of new growth.

This is a well-established clump that is at least 5' tall through the summer.

This is what the books are talking about when they recommend that we lift and split grasses, keeping the outside parts and discarding the inner section.

Last year I did exactly that to three of the many clumps of this grass, replanting the outer sections only, and they are all making good strong new clumps this year.

Of course, it doesn't work on all grasses: Stipa gigantea, Spanish Oat Grass, just gets combed through and has a haircut for neatness, and the very large Miscanthus sinensis Zebrinus doesn't work like this at all: or at least, it does, but not for many years.

And now another word on the subject of composty bins, under the general heading of How Not To Do It, But It Still Works Anyway.

When I started in this garden four years ago, I asked for composty bins, because, well, I'm a gardener, it's what we do. We make compost.

There wasn't much urgency to begin with, as the beds were completely over-run with thistles and couch grass, so I explained that at first, we wouldn't be producing much in the way of compostable material, as there is no point putting couch grass onto a compost heap, unless all you want is couch grass forever more.  However, eventually we would reach a stage where we were producing "normal" weeds that could be composted to replenish the beds.

Despite drawing a sketch, with sizes, and a clear explanation that I wanted three bins, each about a yard square, this is what I got: two utterly enormous containers, each about 8' square and 4' high.

Oh well.

This means I can't do the preferred rotation: you know, one to be filled now, one to be left rotting, one that is being emptied and spread around now.

Instead I have had to pile the material against one side of the bin for 6 months, then against the other side. Not optimal, but it seems to work. See how small the right-hand bin's heaps are? They were up to the top of the walls when I stopped adding to them - that's how much a compost heap will shrink by!

Spent the afternoon fruitlessly searching for wood to use for benches etc at my Yard: you know that situation where a  kind person points to a large area piled high with "stuff" and says "help yourself!" and you think you'll be able to fill the car... but at the end of the afternoon, there is practically nothing to show for it? Well, that's how I spent the afternoon!

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