Back about 8 or 9 years ago, I planted my first garden. It consisted of tilling the ground and planting. My intention was to see how fertile the land was naturally. It wasn't. The garden produced some edibles and lots of weeds. But what I also learned that year was that with 2 little ones it was virtually impossible to keep the garden weeded- at it wasn't even that big! So we started using cloth and plastic mulch to help keep weeds down. It worked, but I didn't really want to use it- or buy it every year.
So this year, in our new garden at our new home, I decided I didn't want to use plastic any more. But for some reason I forgot why I used it in the first place. We started with a nicely tilled chunk of land, we worked hard to pull out all the roots and such that could grow again. And we planted. Somewhere around 100 tomato plants, lots of herbs, 20 or so pepper plants, 6 different varieties of summer squash.....
The wind blew. Or gusted. Or howled. And I learned that even though I didn't need to harden off my plants back in our old garden. I do here. The free range chickens free ranged right into the garden and scratched around. The dogs chased each other around the yard- and the garden. And the grass grew. And grew. And I remembered that I had a hard time keeping a small garden weeded with 2 kids and now I have a huge garden with 5 kids....no way was I going to keep it up. I tried. I kept a weedless circle around the base of most plants. But when the wind stopped and the chickens lost interest and the dogs got fenced. I was left with 30 tomato plants. And 2 squash and much less peppers. I was also left with what looked like a yard with plants sticking up out of it.
I was frustrated and disappointed and all those negative things. But then what plants survived got strong, Paul brought home about 36 free tomato plants, 36 free zucchini plants and 50+ free sweet potato plants. We planted beans in the tomato rows to fill in the empty spaces. And we got mulch.
And the boys worked really hard to tear and soak boxes. Lay them in the garden and shovel the mulch on top. We aren't 100% done. We need more boxes and we will need more wood chips to make the mulch as deep as it should be.
But what we are left with is so much nicer.
The garden looks healthier, it's easier to get through and not accidentally step on a plant.
And although it seems later than usual to me, things are starting to grow. Green tomatoes and tiny zucchini. And potatoes almost ready to be dug from the ground.