When I say that I’m not ready for summer to end, I also have to admit that it would be great to have a break from the relentless heat and humidity. So it was nice to step out into a 62-degree, blue-sky day this morning and realize that it was a morning made for gardening.
My calendar shows that it’s a busy week ahead, but I set my timer for two hours, covered myself in bug spray, got out the tools and compiled a mental list of garden priorities:
1. Pull out the last, giant stalks of amaranth that have been shading everything else. It has already gone to seed, so that means I’ll have it again next year, but at least the kitchen garden is navigable again.
2. Finish digging the crabgrass and weeds out of the strawberry bed. This was a job I started late one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, but had to stop when I ran out of daylight. What I had to leave has continued to grow, and what I had already cleared of crabgrass, wild violets and wood sorrel was getting covered again, and the roots of weeds and strawberry plants have intertwined underground so it was a tedious job. But it’s clear of grass and weeds now, and that makes it easier to consider whether I should continue to maintain this strawberry patch, or dig it all up and make room for something else next year.
3. Pull out, cut down and dig up as many of the invasive paper mulberry* sprouts as possible. There’s a large paper mulberry tree and a thicket of smaller trees next door and its roots have sprouted in the kitchen garden and perennial beds since we’ve been gardening here, but this year, with all the rain, it’s been even more vigorous. It’s amazing how these sneaky sprouts grow out from under rocks and gravel and fence posts, and almost freaky how fast these things grow to tree size. They can quickly take over an area. I pulled and dug and cut as many as I could until my alarm buzzed (and a few more after the timer went off).
The priorities list is even longer, but my time is up. At least now I can see a way to start on the third garden season. I may try planting garlic this fall to see if I have as much success with it here as I do at Farm in the City. I may plant more spinach. Is it too late to plant beets?
* Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) is a fast-growing deciduous tree native to Taiwan and Japan that was introduced as a shade tree in the U.S. in the early 1900s. It can quickly out-compete and overwhelm native and other vegetation. It spreads by sprouting and suckering from the roots as well as by seeds distributed by birds. A suggested method for control is to pull up seedlings as soon as they sprout, but once they become trees, the only way to keep them at bay is to cut them and immediately apply herbicide such as glyphosate (Round-up) to the stump to destroy the root. I avoid using chemicals in the garden, but in this case I can’t say I’m not tempted!