The sun is bright today and the air is warm. There are red bud trees and giant oaks all around the field, some only as far away as 30 feet from the edge of the garden. Tree seeds and last autumn’s dried leaves are just beginning to fall as new leaves emerge and push them out of the way. Spring time winds are causing older trees to drop weakened limbs all over the ground. Last year’s dried sweet gum balls and pinecones are bouncing everywhere. I think this is a perfect day for a little garden maintenance.
Garden maintenance is very crucial to keeping away unwanted pests and insects. Slugs, snails, sowbugs, millipedes, and centipedes all love to hide under decaying debris during daylight hours and then sneak into the garden after dark. Although sowbugs and millipedes are helpful for breaking down organic matter like that found in a compost pile, all of these creatures can wreak havoc on tiny seedlings and tender veggies if they get out of control. We’ve already lost a few lettuce plants to these guys who love to hang out under our damp straw mulch. Once I raked back the mulch to exposed the ground underneath, the soil dried out and not one lettuce leaf has suffered since.
Initially we covered our raised double dug beds with thick mulch to help keep down soil erosion during the soggy winter months. We also line the paths between the beds with cardboard and then covered the cardboard with old hay to prevent weed germination this spring. Well, the beds are still there and no weeds are growing along the paths but there are all kinds of creatures there too! Because we’ve had significant rainfall lately the ground is staying extremely moist and the straw, hay, and cardboard have become prime locations for slugs and snails, millipedes and centipedes, and sowbugs. Agh! From now on, if we use mulch at all, we’ll only add it to the garden beds once the soil has warmed up in late spring or early summer.
Anyway, back to my original train of thought – garden maintenance. Today I’ll rake the hay and straw away from the edges of all the planting beds to expose the cardboard underneath and give it some drying out time. I might just go ahead and remove the cardboard if it appears that pests have taken up shelter. I’ll probably leave the hay and straw in the paths so it can be raked back onto the beds later, once the soil has warmed up a bit. I’ll rake up the dried leaves, pinecones, small limbs, etc and dump them into a pile to be used later as the ‘brown’ in the compost pile. A clean garden is a healthy garden.
HAPPY GROWING! ♥