Well it seems that summer is here. The heat that we have been getting has been a bonus for the garden. Everything is up, even the corn that I planted outside in containers.
Usually in the Yukon, one of the main challenges is to keep enough heat on the plants and to prevent frost. Not so this year. This year we have needed to water every night just to make sure the tender seedlings don’t wither and die during the hottest part of the day.
But, along with a growing garden, there are growing weeds.
Now, a weed is really only a plant that is growing in a spot where it isn’t wanted. During the first few years of our garden, one of our main weeds was wild roses. Beautiful on the hillside, but really painful if stepped on while walking barefoot between rows of vegetables.
While perusing seed catalogues in January, weeds are far from my thoughts. Somehow I always seem to forget that with a large garden comes lots of weeding.
Oh well, I guess I can always look at it as extra green feed for the animals. Then I am harvesting, not weeding.
Weeding is especially important with carrots when they are just emerging out of the soil. Competing with weeds is not something they can do when they are just seedlings.
We also try to weed peas early, before they set their pods. Then, when their vines get long enough, they actually shade the bare soil and the weeds can’t compete.
It is important to pull weeds before they flower and go to seed; otherwise, the number of weeds would be multiplied. So, picking weeds is a necessary “evil”.
Until the weeds get big enough to make it worthwhile, as feed, I mow the grass around our place and feed it out. The laying hens roam the area around the barn for grass and bugs.
And as the geese grow, they have started to patrol around the barn, as well, grazing as they go. This leaves only the pigs and broiler chickens to bring green feed to.
We have a nine-month-old dog who follows me everywhere.
When I do chores, he follows and waits outside the barn until I am done and then follows me to the house. Same when I go to the garden. If I take a walk on the hill, he is right there, too.
Sometimes when he follows me, he is so close that he steps onto the back of my flip-flops and trips me up. So when I decided to mow a part of the lawn, he, of course, followed me to the lawnmower and then kept a respectful distance as I went around the yard.
I guess he stayed back because he didn’t like the noise. It took two-and-a-half circuits of the lawn before he decided I really wasn’t going anywhere and he went and laid down in the shade.
Usually, the grass grows greenest around the barn, so that is often where we need to mow it most. Seems kind of odd to mow a barnyard, but the dark-green grass is full of nutrients that the animals like and need.
Now, pigs absolutely love grass, roots included.
If there were an area I wanted to have the sod removed from, I would fence it off temporarily and put pigs into it (let them do the work for me).
But at the moment I don’t need them to remove any sod, so they stay in pens where I bring them their green feed. And what they don’t eat, they trample into the manure, making a good mix of nutrients for the garden.
Joan Norberg and her husband, Allan, run Grizzly Valley Farms on the Mayo Road. They have successfully endured the Yukon’s short seasons and less-than-ideal soil conditions. Send her your questions at [email protected]
Joan Norberg and her husband, Allan, run Grizzly Valley Farms on the Mayo Road. They have successfully endured the Yukon’s short seasons and less-than-ideal soil conditions. Send her your questions at [email protected].