So Richard headed out to the Big Garden with Tilley, the Rototiller. He cut wide swaths inbetween the rows. Freddie (the Buff Orpington Rooster) and Button (the White Plymouth Rock Hen) patiently followed him back and forth across the field, gleaning Grubs, Worms, Bugs. They are smart Chickens.
We 3 Humans still needed to weed the 4-8 inch strips around the Plants by hand. That field is immense at about 1/3 acre. While Richard, Tilley and the entourage of Chickens were going back and forth, I sat on my bucket and carefully hand weeded 1/3 of 2 rows.
In the meantime, we began reclaiming more parts of the Garden closer to the house. Melanie commented that we had spent so much time weeding that we had been spending less time with the Plants. Such work is hard. What makes it doubly hard is that for a while, you see little progress. We did discover some important teachings along the Path.
- We 3 Humans only have so much energy and we are tired. We need to "liberate the Humans" too.
- In addition to the Weeding, we also have harvesting and preserving that needs to take a priority. We could focus on saving it all and end of up losing more than we need to.
- We need to decide which areas have priority. Some produce just may not make it this Season.
- We lost a lot of the Dry Edible Beans because Seeds rotted in the Ground with all the moisture. For some varieties, we had used all of the Seeds. If we would have lived 100 years ago and used all the Seeds we had, we would be in big trouble. Our back-up in modern times is the Grocery Store, which does not always give us the healthiest or the least costly products.
- Modern Grocery Stores were not a back-up earlier Folks would have experienced. Their levels of vulnerability must have been immense. They surely had to be aware and skillful to survive and thrive.
- In many parts of the 2 Gardens, the Soil has become hard and compacted in the areas without adequate Compose. I remember the Old Timers calling such things "Hard Pan".
- That hard Soil has leached out a lot of the precious Nutrients. I wonder how far Down Stream those Nutrients have traveled. The Rains just washed them away. Tragically, overall Soil vitality is reduced.
- The now compacted Soil strains the Plants. They become stunted. Weeding is difficult. I can imagine that the coming Rains will just roll away without penetrating and nourishing plants. We need to carefully hoe to break up the Soil.
- Covering the exposed Soil with Mulch (Straw or Grass Clippings) is essential. We have made progress here. This simple action will protect the Soil and keep the Moisture levels higher in the expected Hot, Dry Season ahead.
- The height of the Weeds around the Plants meant the Garden Produce had to strain tall to reach the Sun. Again, Vitality of Plants is reduced. Some are a little "leggy" and the color is yellow, rather than the vibrant green.
- When we weed, it seems like the Weeds just keep on popping up. They are incredibly vigorous. A lot of Gardeners have talked about the aggressive nature of Weeds this year. What is going on?
- The parts of the Garden with adequate Compost typically have Plants which are far healthier. The raised beds have far easier access.
- Richard commented that instead of planting large sections in straight rows over ground that is less fertile, it makes more sense to plant in smaller areas on more fertile Soil.
- Soil is everything. We need to protect it and we need to use natural means to fertilize it and restore its tilth.
- We are tired. We had 3 young adults from Wren Song, a farm down our lane, come today. They helped weed the Sorghum Cane. That was wonderful. Rachel is coming too. We do appreciate any and all help. But we just need to keep working smarter about these things. And we need to take breaks.
- Teachings abound.