How to Have a Weed-Free Garden (…and what this has to do with the UnDiet)

So why would I want to talk about gardening in my UnDiet blog? Because I’m looking to make this UnDiet thing a lifestyle, and one of the ways I plan on doing that is to grow my own food.

I’ve been occupied a lot lately pulling weeds from my yard. I’ve never been big on flower beds, but the place we just moved onto a few months ago had been lived in by the same family for more than 50 years, and apparently the woman loved flowers.

This woman must have filled her hours in her later years cultivating this gorgeous place. I don’t mind the weeding too much because it’s good passive exercise for me. Truly, the yard does look like a lovely park. However, it far outstrips my ability to keep up with it. Since I still work every day, albeit from home, I don’t have hours and hours every day to spend in the flower beds.

This morning, as I pulled the long grass from under the picnic table (the tables are too heavy to move so we just mow around them), I looked out across the back meadow. It’s full of lupine right now–just lupine and grass. No dandelions, no pigweed, nor any of the dozen other weeds I’ve been pulling in the yard. Not even crabgrass.

Why is that? Why is my yard full of so many varieties of weeds while the meadow is not? One reason: cultivation. That land back there has not been disturbed. It’s been fenced as pasture, but never ploughed or disturbed any way except animal feet and occasional human feet upon it. The weeds just stop and go no further, which shows me that a healthy ecosystem in a meadow/pasture not only doesn’t allow weeds, it forbids them. Near the house, where the land was cleared for building, the weeds proliferate in a sea;  in the meadow, although it surely receives the same inundation with blowing or dropped weed seeds, the weeds do not.

That’s the secret to not having any weeds in your garden. Stop rototilling it.

So how does one garden without rototilling? Raised bed gardening. I’m not going to tell you how to do it; a simple Google search will bring up hordes of excellent articles. The pictures alone are worth the search. Especially look at this link, the blog of an experienced gardener who has tried it the traditional way, and read her short, straightforward rationale for switching to raised beds.

You can buy soil that doesn’t contain weed seeds just about anywhere. My favorite thing is to have a load of compost delivered, or make your own compost, which is what I’m doing right now so that I’ll have plenty of gardening soil for next year. For now, I’m gardening in an old bathtub, a wheelbarrow, and reclaimed flower pots.

The bathtub was full of beginning mum plants that would have grown up to be beautiful flowers this fall, but there are many, many mum plants in the various flower beds around the rest of the yard, and I needed garden space.

I ask forgiveness of the departed soul who planted those mums. But I think she understands.

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My tub garden is looking like a covered wagon at this point. I had to put up the “tent” to discourage the magpies who were pulling off the onion tops and then deciding they didn’t like the taste. What I’ve planted in these two small areas will be enough onions and potatoes to last us 5 months into the winter and enough basil to make a good jar of pesto, my favorite condiment. The plan for next year is to have a garden that will sustain the two of us year round, and a couple of goats and a small flock of chickens through the winter.

Here’s an article by Dr. Mercola talking about Joel Salatin and his methods.

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