One great way to say ‘I’m sorry’ to your better half is to ‘make amends’ by spending the afternoon amending his or her garden soil for the growing season. Recently, 16 fraternity and sorority members from the University of Utah made their amends for previous wrongdoings by helping me prep the Meals Plus Harvest garden for the 2015 growing season (actually they were just volunteering as part of Greek Week). So, this blog entry is devoted to help you amend your garden soil correctly so you don’t end up right back in the doghouse for messing-up, again! Here is what our wonderful volunteers did at the Meals Plus Harvest garden on April 2nd, 2015 – it was as easy as 1,2,3!
- Removed stakes holding down drip irrigation lines and pulled back lines away from the garden soil. I made the mistake of not instructing volunteers to individually coil lines so we ended up with a drip irrigation love knot after they were all pulled back and away from the garden – lesson learned and never to be repeated again!
- Weed garden beds. Some perennial weeds, like common mallow (Malva neglecta) and dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) have already started to germinate (some dandelion plants are already starting to bloom). We also found blooming winter annual weeds like redstem filaree (Erodium cicutarium) and Persian speedwell (Veronica persica). It is really important to control weeds in the springtime to advert an even weedier mess later in the growing season and in future years. Check out the links above for more information on these weeds or for a full listing, visit USU Extension’s ‘Common Weeds of the Yard and Garden.’
- Repaired planting beds (restored the shape) and added about 2 inches of composted organic matter (horse poop specifically) to the top of the reshaped planting beds.
I am deeply worried about two things. First, the composted horse poop was not as well composted as I would have liked. I used the free stuff this year from the farm – hopefully this does not come back to haunt me! Secondly, the manure had recognizable straw mixed into it. This is fine if, AND THIS IS A BIG IF, the straw does not have weed seeds (like cheat grass) in it as well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and will report back on these two matters later in the growing season. Hopefully, I did not just introduce a new bank of weed seeds into the garden! If I did, at least we laid the organic matter on top of the planting beds instead of tilling it into the existing soil so the weed seeds will be concentrated in the top couple inches of the planting bed. I did, however, drop back out at the farm the next day to make amends for my own possible terrifying mistakes and mixed in a little nitrogen fertilizer to speed up the composting rate of some of the high carbon materials, like straw. Fingers crossed I won’t be spending the next year making amends to my Master Gardeners for causing them many new hours of ‘weeding out’ my error in judgment!