Trying to get control of my weed bed

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This time last year, I had the best looking garden in many years.

This year is a different story.

Because of Covid, 2020 was the year we spent all summer at home. We didn’t go anywhere because everyplace we usually travel to was closed.

More time at home meant more time to be in the garden watching for a weed to pop up somewhere and immediately attacking it was a hoe.

I could actually see all of my vegetables without peeking through the grass and weeds. Picking them was a breeze.

This year, the pollen count was bad all spring and early summer. My allergies, which had been under control the past few years, were terrible again. The doctor had to put me back on two different asthma inhalers to even breathe when outside. The high temperatures this year kept me inside every afternoon.

And then, there was the rain. While we didn’t get enough at one time to have standing water in my garden, we received enough to make the garden too muddy to accomplish anything.

Both of my Troy-bilt tillers quit and my repairman hasn’t been able to get either running yet.

I use these to run between the rows to keep the weeds down.

I borrowed my neighbor’s tiller, a small one, but by then, the grass clumps were too thick and heavy to till through.

I used Susie’s riding mower to mow down all the areas I could get to, but it was too wide to reach the weeds between the rows.

After mowing, I again tried the small tiller. I would take three or four passes across the garden, then, I would have to stop and clean out all of the grass, weeds, and mud that had tangled up in the tines.

I would stop long enough to sit a few minutes in the porch swing and take a couple shots of my asthma inhaler so I could breathe again.

Susie was trying to pull the weeds, which were inside the tomato cages I had around all the tomato and pepper plants.

We pulled all of the bean and pea plants, which we had finished picking. We ended up with 20 quarts of green beans from four rows (last year we picked 75 quarts from 14 rows. We had 14 quart bags of peas to freeze from six rows. (My lima beans are covered with blooms right now.)

I said last fall I was just going to plant my garden with grass seed this year. Instead, I widened my 100-foot long garden from 25 feet to 35 feet. Now I have 3,500 square feet instead of 2,500 feet to take care of.

The bigger area did have some advantages. Where the extra 10 feet width of lawn last year was, the plants in that area are much larger than the old part of the garden. My sunflower stalks in the new part are about three feet taller than the rest of the row in the older part. The same is true of most of my vegetables. Bigger plants, more blooms and vegetables. And grass and weeds.

I finally finished tilling all the areas between rows, in the large patches where the beans and peas grew, and the other end where I plant my pumpkins and gourds. I have them planted ready for Halloween. Around the first of August, I will replant about six rows of peas. They take about two months to grow before the first heavy frost.

I fought my way through the weeds and found several zucchinis that were about a foot long. I couldn’t see them to pick when I should have. I am pulling the weeds from around them now and can see some small zucchini coming on. Next, I have to weed the two lima bean rows. They are covered in blooms, but no pods are setting yet. They take a long time to grow, but I really like the taste of the ones we finally get to pick.

We are now getting ripe tomatoes, and the peppers are nearing time to pick. The few watermelon plants I have are full of blooms. I don’t usually grow them, so I don’t know how long they take. We have 10 dozen ears of corn ordered from our supplier on Huntsville Road. We will be picking them up in about a week. That will take us another day to shuck, and ready them for the freezer.

I have a $500 gift certificate to use at our meat processor. I have to eat a bunch out of our two freezers before I have room to get more. With that meat, and all of the vegetables we have, we should be able to make it through the winter.

Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer whose work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications for 40 years. Born in Anderson, he is a graduate of Markleville High School. He lives in South Madison County with his wife, Susie. He may be contacted at creasons@aol.com.