Unwanted weeds

Really? A simple weeding job? This is taking forever.

It took me just a day (a winter day – late start) to romp through the weeding of the vegetable beds close to the end near the dahlias. Eight done and ready for the next season.

It was a peaceful job. Sitting down on a mat and working my way down the rows. I had annual weeds. Some expired tomato plants. But it really was simple. And fast. A joy in fact.

The hardest part was hauling the heavy sacks of compost I use as a mulch.  They were stacked near the old compost bin area in front of the bread oven and are hefty little blighters.

After about six years of doing this – not digging the soil, adding to the beds with home-made and bought in compost every year the beds are gorgeous. Chocolate cake gorgeous.

I’m very pleased. And I wasn’t even fuming about the deer which had worked its way down every single row, munching the Swiss chard to the ground. And the sorrel.

They don’t like the peppery taste of rocket. So at least they have left me with some salad items this winter.

The indentations were everywhere. And quite deep where they met the mole rat tunnels underneath. A meeting of two marauders if you will.

At least they left behind a lot of poo which I dug into the soil. Nice little manuring job to add to the mix.

I even added more logs of chestnut to the edges. They sink over time. I stood back and admired.  And then spent a while cutting out chicken wire squares to drape over every chewed plant in the hope there will be resprouting. (I’m still in the New Year optimism of the vegetable gardener mode.)

Eight beds down just eight to go. And the bonus was a good crop of parsnips which I didn’t even know were thriving hidden in the undergrowth. We feasted on parsnip mash for dinner.

The rest of the Potager, I figured, should be a doddle.

But no.

I forgot to factor in my most pernicious weed. And it’s entirely my own fault.

Strawberries. What was I thinking? I pictured edging all my vegetable beds with strawberries so I could harvest merrily away as I walked the rows. It worked.

But the strawberries did what they will. They threw up runners which found lovely rich soil in which to put down roots.  My beds are infested. And yes, it’s a delicious crop, but I have a jungle of plants and I decided it was time they moved.

Out they go.

Not to the compost heap. Perish the thought. No, I’m recycling them.  Fifty have already gone into a basket and given away to my neighbour. A few hundred have been shoved into the very edge of the new permaculture bed. And I have covered the area that is supposed to be a tulip bed in front of the lavenders with more, yet more little strawberry plants.

And I have about three hundred more to go. Two whole beds of them.

I have planted a sea of them in the potager edge where I am only growing a fig, kiwis, the grape vines for the courtyard, and any bramble that has snuck out of the rocks of the barn above.

It is now a strawberry nursery and I was just grateful I had bare soil to shove them in.

Believe me, after hundreds and hundreds of plants there is no loving replanting going on. It’s a graceless shove into any bare soil I can find.

It took me a whole day to get just two beds done. And a quarter of another in the almost dark. I have sacks of the plants. And am seriously considering setting up a stall by the roadside and giving them away.

Ask me on Friday and I might have stopped moaning. Actually I feel guilty. I should have been on top of these runners months ago. Strawberries reproduce this way and I ought to have been supervising the proliferation.

And guess who was supervising my strawberry replanting? Yes, have a soft kneeling mat and it will be stolen.

So now I know that I am not attentive enough to the plants in the potager. Each bed in this potager will be strawberry free.

And the rest of the farm can be an incubating bed for this prodigious ground cover plant.

Please excuse me while I log onto Facebook and contact my nearest mates and see if I can’t hand over sacks of the strawberry plants I still have to yank up. Wish me luck.