by Charlene Burgi
This week the temperature dropped considerably and I found myself outside planting bulbs, dividing and replanting perennials, ripping up the remaining summer vegetable garden, and finally tackling the horrendous job of clearing out the greenhouse.
The brisk air outside can chill a gardener. While the cold is invigorating, it is just cool enough to find reasons to venture into the solar-heated area housing frost-tender plants. Unlike in the hot days of summer, the greenhouse in the cold weather can be a joy to work in. I took that first step inside and it was like walking into a sauna! The moist heat was as welcome as sitting in front of the fireplace with a cup of herbal tea.
The second step inside was a bit more sobering. Besides my eyeglasses fogging up, I realized how neglected this part of the garden had become over the hot summer. The plants flourished in that humid environment, but so did the weeds!
| Overgrown weeds
Visions of creeping thyme growing between the stepping stones were lost in what appeared to be a cover crop of oxalis. Gophers could not penetrate the wire-lined, soil-covered flooring, but that didn't stop those pesky critters from rooting around under the wire and lifting tunnels of soil in the planter beds inside.
The cool weather also reminded me that I was running out of time to plant winter veggies. Jack built another raised planter in the greenhouse for onion sets that didn't get planted this summer—yes, another delayed project. My hope is that they will thrive in the warm climate inside. Lettuce, mache, beets, carrots, cauliflower, and spinach also need to get into the ground soon. Basil and parsley still flourished from spring plantings, assuring that more pesto would be forthcoming. Unfortunately, weeds had invaded their planting area also.
Clearly, delaying this chore over the summer months only increased the task at hand. The best way to tackle any weeding chore is to nip it in the bud when the weeds are tiny and have yet to produce seeds. The postponement of this project caused double the effort to eradicate the weeds.
Weeding in a confined space means doing the job on your hands and knees. From this position you will find yourself up close and personal with soil conditions and critters as the unwanted vegetation is removed. Spiders were the first thing I noticed as they clambered up the triple wall siding to get out of my way. Pill bugs, which love the warm moist environment, wandered away looking for another hiding place where they could feast on more decayed material such as compost and dying vegetation. An earwig quickly scurried by—the first earwig I had ever seen in Lassen. To my consternation, lying under the thicket of overgrown weeds was the larva of a root weevil—the bane of succulent root systems. With this larva living in the soil, hand picking weeds has now extended to hand picking adult weevils!
The spoilage didn't end there. The root system of the creeping thyme intermingled with the weed roots. I worked patiently untangling the mess and replanting the thyme. The experience made me flash back to the days of fishing with my dad up on the watershed. We no sooner sat down to fish when my line backlashed and my dad spent the rest of the day untangling the fishing lines!
Delayed projects can often get out of hand in a hurry. Is there something in the garden that you are putting off? Did you get that mulch down on prized tender plants before winter sets in? Do it now! You won't regret it.