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Planning for next year and cover crops...

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by gladahmae, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. gladahmae

    gladahmae Songster

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    May 17, 2012
    Benzie, MI
    I'm trying to plan for next year since my garden layout this year is pretty much a disaster. My "rows" of tomatoes are impassible and the plants are 4ft tall!!), my squash are pathetic, the green beans are OK, and my pepper plants are wasting space since they are tiny and sad. My cukes are also tiny for some reason......I have yet to see a cucumber, when last year I was COVERED UP in cucumbers. I didn't have room for pumpkins this year either.

    Which leads me to planning for next year.

    I have a patch I'm trying to grow sunflowers in this year (bunnies and deer are mowing them off) that I could easily use as vegetable space next year.......fenced of course. The problem is that our soil is very poor, and we have a LOT of weeds. Does anyone have cover crop suggestions that I can plant thickly, and then till into the soil in the spring? We're zone 5, and get a lot of snow. Maybe rye? or winter wheat?

    I've got a decent size pile of chicken manure from the meat birds, and I'll have all of the shavings from 2 more coop cleanouts (mulched my tomatoes with it this year and NO WEEDS!)
     

  2. CurtisCr79

    CurtisCr79 In the Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2013
    Shelbyville, KY
    I always have the same problem with weeds, I have considered "Hot Boxing" which is where you cover the ground in plastic for a few warm weeks and it bakes the ground killing everything including the roots and any seeds left behind. Buddy of mine does this with plastic from one of the big box hardware stores that is by the twine and red flags. Just grabs a bit on his way out every time he goes. Then it is just a matter of spreading all the peices out and putting rocks on the corners.
     
  3. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Songster

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    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    Our weed problems were vastly improved when we started doing two things:

    1. Just after harvest, I place a heap of leaf litter, compost and used chicken shavings to a depth of at least 12" if not 20". Let sit and 'cook' all winter long. I beg leaves from neighbors and I'm even known to collect the bags from folks nearby on garbage day. There's a house with maple trees and I return the bags once I've emptied them for refill! (They won't deliver, but hey, I save them a few $$ on the stupid bags!).

    2. Early, early spring - here in IL, it's usually end of Feb., during that first warm-ish spell (where the sun seems stronger and the winds are milder - typically lasts just 2 or 3 days here) - I take silver tarps and stake them over the beds and let the beds steam a few days. That seems to help cook the weeds. Often, I'll remove the tarp to find all sorts of seedlings - that promptly freeze as the temps drop.

    Between these two methods, I've reduced the number of weeds considerably.
    One year, I tried straw as mulch - but must have gotten hay instead, as all my garden beds were covered with wheat. What a mess! This is how I combated the wheat heads from returning.
     
  4. gladahmae

    gladahmae Songster

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    May 17, 2012
    Benzie, MI
    That's a great idea? How big is your garden though? My current garden is 25x40, and I'm planning on adding another of the same size in a different location on our property next year. My mind is reeling at the thought of coming up with 74 cubic yards of leaves.......
     
  5. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Songster

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    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    Our garden is 25x50' with another comparably huge bed in front of the house (that one's 16x20?).

    We have 4 compost bins going all the time - they're about 3' tall by now. We put in all leaves and stems (no flowers or seedheads) of all weeds we pull. We're busy pulling weeds all over this acre+ lot. Also, the used litter from our brooder boxes, our meat bird pen and our coop (I don't do deep litter method - have 2 bags worth of shavings a month). So by fall, I should have about 128 cu feet of compost. Then I start collecting leaves. I'm not kidding about beg, borrow or stealing leaves! I spend about 2wks collecting leaves. There are a few folks up the street who simply drive their tractors down to my place and drop the leaves in front of the garden. It's taken a while to meet all these folks and build this rapport, but it's well worth it! Start with your neighbors. Especially if you return those darn leaf bags to them to refill. Some Saturdays I've got a stead trickle of folks coming down the driveway - they'll rake them and drag the bag to me, I dump in the beds and hand their bag back! Now, this is slow work, because everyone's got to stop to chat...but...well worth it!

    Anyone who brings me their leaves goes home with at least a small amount of whatever produce I've got extra's of. Last year was pumpkins (everyone took home a pumpkin, as I already had 27 in storage!). Two years ago was concord grapes - I gave away 20 zip-lock baggies full of grapes to folks (they picked too). Three years ago was tomatoes - good gosh, I had bushels of tomatoes! This year, looks like it'll be pickles. My cucumbers are going gangbusters! I've already got enough pickles stored up for at least a year, likely a bit more!

    Be friendly first and it's amazing how neighborhoods can grow!
     

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