Spring cleaning in Fall

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done anything at all with the farm. This was according to plan; with the infant I knew I wouldn’t have time to care for it properly and I didn’t want to feel torn or guilty. Plus, it’s good for the poor soil back there to be left fallow for a while. So I planted a few peppers, zukes, and tomatoes this Spring – which the groundhogs promptly decimated – but for the most part it’s been entirely and completely ignored. I mean it. I think we’ve mowed it twice all summer.

(Which probably accounts for the fact that the neighbors planted a row of arborvitae along the property line. I’m not happy about it, but hey, if they’d rather look out onto a row of towering useless trees instead of a thriving meadow… I guess they’re allowed. I’m just gonna be grumpy if those trees start shading my crops.)

But in the mean time, just look at how all that grass & greenery is thriving! Even though it’s just weeds, when I look at it I think of the benefit to the soil. I’ve talked about it before, but growth is what foments the richest soil: it’s all in the cycle of compost and microorganisms. So I’m not entirely unhappy that our “Soggy Bottom” has turned into a sea of waist-high grass. Not that I wouldn’t jump at the chance if someone offered to mow it for free…

Remember how barren & infertile the soil was originally? When nothing but English Ivy would grow?

Maybe all those backbreaking trips with wheelbarrowloads full of manure and compost were actually worth it, huh?

The weeds are changing as the soil becomes more fertile. The nasty rushes that took over in the beginning are becoming fewer and farther between. No more English Ivy, hardly any poison ivy that I’ve seen (there used to be big nests of it). Instead it’s mostly grass and mile-a-minute weed, which tells me that the soil is becoming more fertile and the hardier weeds are seeking less hospitable terrain.

Most importantly, though, is that this won’t be an eyesore of a backyard fallow meadow for long. I’ve had enough energy lately that I’ve been able to skip a few naps and get out to the garden. I’m looking at gardening catalogues as something other than purveyors of never-ending thankless labor, and my Hobby Farms Magazine is no longer just a useless coffee table decoration. I’m starting to get my game back and whip out some spring cleaning on this poor forgotten little farm!

To start with, I have mowed down the paths, whacked down the tallest weeds, and I hope to keep them that way. More plans include cultivating overgrown beds and planting some winter covercrop, to be planted through in the Spring.

I have also decided to pull out all the wavy beds and winding pathways – so sad! – to make room for straight beds that are much easier to plan, cultivate, plant, and weed. I really wanted the curvy beds of the Fiddlehead to work, and they might have if I had more time and fewer kids, but… I’ll go with what works, for now. Unfortunately this will mean pulling and de-mulching miles of buried, overgrown landscape fabric, digging up borderstones, unearthing sodden timbers and logs that marked edges of pathways. I don’t know if I’m up for the task… but a little at a time I can handle, surely.

And you can be sure I’ll whine about it all right here, to you! Don’t you feel lucky?

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