Friday, April 13, 2012

Of pitchforks and toilet paper

Tis the season to prep the garden.  If your garden is like mine, it's also the season to weed.  I have a terrible case of crab grass.  Sounds a little nasty, doesn't it?  I don't like to work my beds to heavily all year.  They tend to do better with just a little aeration. 

Now, I've seed broad forks all over the web for the past few years.  I blame Eliot Coleman and his fantastic books for this trend.  The problem is that they're expensive and usually need to be special ordered.  I'm cheap and I don't have a lot of space in my shed.  When a blogging friend wrote about her broad fork a few weeks ago, I realized that I was doing the same thing with my pitchfork.  I love a good multi-tasker.  Good tools that you feel comfortable with are indispensable. 

Using the pitchfork to loosen the soil

All you do is shove your fork into the soil, then rock it back to loosen up the soil.  Go across the width of the bed.  Then take a step backward and do another row.  My pitchfork is about half the width of the broadfork, but that doesn't bother me.  I'm short, so small is many times better.

Before prepping the bed.

After loosening all the soil, I went to work weeding.  If you don't have crabgrass, you are very lucky.  It's the devil.  It spreads under ground through long roots called stolons.  You can't smother it.  It just simply takes work.  When the weeds are gone, I smooth it over and the bed is ready for planting.

After prepping.  Weed free, loose soil.

When the beds were prepped, I planted my beets, carrots and parsnips.  I make my own seed tapes with toilet paper.  You can read about it here.  In all, I got 800 parsnips, 1600 beets and 1600 carrots planted.  Sounds like a lot, but in reality I'll be planting more this summer.  We love our root veggies. 

New England is experiencing a bit of a drought right now, so I'll have to keep them well watered.  Hopefully we'll get some good soaking rains soon.  If not, it will be a challenging gardening year.  What have you gotten into your beds lately?


Daphne said...

I do the same thing with my garden fork. And like you I don't have a lot of space to store a broadfork, so I'm fine without. It just takes a bit longer.

The Mom said...

Daphne, we both have small, duplex yards. I have more time than space.

Robin said...

I have a great pitchfork that was my grandfather's. I think it's older then me! I would love a broad fork. But, can't see spending the money on one.

I also make my carrot mats on toilet paper. The mats sure do work well.

daisy said...

We have crabgrass too. It's a bear!

I'm harvesting lettuce now. Waiting on the pole beans and peas to come along. I will be planting potatoes for the first time next week!
Enjoy your weekend!

The Mom said...

Robin, the pitchfork is a favorite. I wish I could find one sturdy enough to last. Mine was replaced this year.

Daisy, I'm so sorry you're dealing with the dreaded crabgrass as well. What kind of potatoes are you growing?

kitsapFG said...

Garden forks work quite well, just takes a little longer and more "bites" to get the job done. I like my broad fork as it makes fast work of the long garden beds, but have done many a bed with just a garden fork too.

Your finished bed looks great. I know what a battle it is to deal with rhizome spreading grass/weeds. Had that in my central Washington garden and was forever battling them.

The Mom said...

Laura, I do wish that I could justify the broad fork, but alas the pitch fork is for me. sigh...

It must be wonderful not to have to deal with the dreaded rhizome weeds.