Garden Log #1 – Weeds, Vines, and Shears

Today, my boyfriend and I did a lot of work in the garden. Emphasis on a lot. We pulled weeds from the garden beds and cut down a bunch of vines using shears borrowed from my neighbor.

I’m so glad that I have neighbors who are not only interested in my garden but also care enough to help me when I need it. Whether it’s borrowing tools, watering the plants for me when I’m out of town, or even just encouraging me and talking to me about how much my garden has grown and can continue to grow, they support me. In fact, it was my neighbors – in addition to my partner – who gave me the “just do it” conversation when I first conceived the idea of gardening in one of the empty and unused lots in our neighborhood. They give me feedback and they also tell me how important it is to teach the youth and to pass on the knowledge that I’m learning to the next generation. These are values that I hold true and that I hope to fulfill.

So we got to pulling weeds and cutting vines and it was strenuous work. We were left with piles and piles of vines and weeds in the end, which we tossed aside, although some stalks will be used for my compost pile. I forgot to take a before picture but the transformation was…whew chile, it was crazy. I cut so many weeds on the land today, which I don’t usually do because the city usually takes care of that but since COVID-19, they haven’t scheduled any trimmings so we just decided to take care of it.

I sincerely hope the city contractors come out soon to do more work and cut the grass like they usually do because we can’t keep this up forever! haha. But I’m grateful that they come out about once a month to upkeep the land. The stalks were getting ridiculously big! I love plants but weeds are so annoying and meddlesome. They always grow back! We can only hope to have the level of unyielding determination and perseverance that weeds have.

We also planted some perennials in the containers in the garden so that’s pretty cool. We planted lemon balm and mint. It’s super important that mint isn’t planted with the rest of the garden because it’s an aggressive grower and it can take over the entire garden and we don’t want that. The same goes for lemon balm. This is a side of plants that I find so interesting because – just like animals – they can use aggressive survival tactics to ensure their existence and to pass on their genes. That’s exciting to the scientist in me. If you’re interested in knowing more about these mechanisms, check out this article.

By planting the lemon balm and mint in the container pots we can control its growth – and avoid its invasive tendencies – while still being able to enjoy the plant. When I tell you that my arms were hurting after all of this work! WHEW!! Who needs arm day at the gym?

I’m also so thankful and lucky and appreciative to have my partner by my side to help me through all of this. It would’ve taken me so so so much longer to complete all of this work had he not been here to help me with it. After we were done, we rested for a minute and talked about strategies for improving the watering system.

I plan to increase my watering to 2-3 times per day so that my plants adjust more easily to being outdoors after being transplanted. I plant to to water about every 6-7 hours. That’s the one nice thing about working from home right now because I have the capability to do that.

I also plant to plant more seeds and transplant the seedlings that I already have. I’m excited to see how things grow for these next couple of weeks!

Quick seed update:

This morning I checked on the seeds that we planted on Monday, May 24th, and they’re growing already! Five plants have already started sprouting: kale, brussels sprouts, lettuce, peas, and chamomile! It’s only been two days. That’s so exciting and I can’t wait to see how they look a week from now.

One piece of advice I can give to people who are planting seeds is that you should always read the seed packet for information and directions on how to plant the seeds. I usually always do this so I can avoid having any problems in the future and so I know the recommended way of growing the seed because each seed is different and their requirements may vary.

So when I originally planted my first round of seeds, I read the back of the packet for lavender and they recommended that the seeds be placed in a moist paper towel in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 weeks. This step is encouraged because lavender seeds have a low germination rate, meaning that they have a low chance of sprouting. This process helps to increase the likelihood that you do get some seedlings.

lavender  seeds on a wet paper towel
lavender seeds

Even though I know I read this direction when I first got the packet, I completely forgot to do it! *facepalm* So today I finally followed directions. At first I was a little disappointed and felt behind on this process (as has been the theme of my garden experience this season – thanks COVID-19 😭) but I keep reminding myself that everything happens according to when it’s supposed to happen. There is a greater plan and I have to understand that things may not always happen on my timetable, even if that’s disappointing and frustrating, you gotta keep rolling with the punches.

COVID-19 has caused everything to be delayed for the garden this planting season. I wasn’t able to get the seeds, soil, wood, or any of the materials that I would usually have in stock right now, according to the schedule that I had hoped for. Sometimes I get discouraged by how much progress – or seemingly lack thereof – I have made so far because this time last year my garden was already three months in with its growth. I feel so behind but am trying my best with the realization that things won’t be perfect and that this is all a learning process. What I am learning this time around can be applied to the future.

This is especially important when it comes to gardening and tending to plants. We may do everything right or know how to do it correctly but sometimes there are variables that are out of our control. What matters is how we choose to react to these situations and perceived setbacks and what we do differently next time. That’s the lesson today folks. One that I think I’ll have to keep reminding myself of this season.

Have you had any garden or plant setbacks recently? If so, what was it and how did you deal with it?

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