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GRR, Dealing With Invasive Ground Covers

November 8th, 2011

The people who built our house weren’t gardeners and tried to cut corners anywhere possible when it came to the garden. As a result, I have had to correct many problems in the garden. From the foundation borders around the house being backfilled with sand (yes, ridiculous I know) to covering the entire back yard with gravel and driving on it all the time compacting the soil. On top of all of these problems I find myself with several invasive ground covers that they planted, most likely because they wanted a “low maintenance garden”.

Since I’m an organic gardener, spraying the ground cover is not an option. I don’t even like to use organic sprays as I think they’re also hard on soil and insect life. As a result, I spent lots of time each gardening season yanking out invasive ground covers and at least trying to keep them under control while slowly eradicating them. In all I have about 700 square feet of invasive ground cover I’ve been working on eradicating.

On the back hillside, which I can see from my kitchen window, I spent a few years smothering it with tarps and leaves. I have almost eradicated the Japanese honeysuckle from that area. This past week I’ve been spending a good portion of my garden time pulling up the remaining vines. I’ll most likely have some to pull up next spring, summer, and fall. With that, it should be gone – WHEW. But then I have to move on to the front hillside which is planted in variegated vinca vine.

It’s been backbreaking work to be sure. Next spring when I see this hillside covered in hundreds of tulips, muscari, snowdrops, and other flowering bulbs I’ll be glad I spent so much time eradicating the ugly ground cover.

Have you ever had invasive species to deal with in your garden? Did you plant them or were they left by a previous gardener?

Will It Bloom?

October 11th, 2011

Early this summer I planted hyacinth beans to grow up my porch posts. I was inspired by the ones growing up a beautiful arbor in the vegetable gardens at Monticello, on my visit the previous summer.

They’ve been growing and growing, all the way up the top and then flopping back down, but there are no blooms yet. There’s not ever a bud in sight.


I don’t really mind though, they did a great job growing up and blocking the sun on one the south side of the porch. They’ll also provide lots of organic matter for the garden when they get nipped by the frost. Perhaps next year I’ll plant some morning glories in this spot instead.

Do you have any plants that aren’t quite performing as you expected this summer?

Rocks: My Gardening Nemesis

April 22nd, 2010

I’ve talked about our rocky soil before. Everywhere I dig I find rocks of all sizes. From tiny pebbles to boulders I have to get Mr Chiots to help me dig out, they’re everywhere! I spend more time removing rocks from the garden areas than I do on any other garden task, even weeding. It’s especially bad in new garden areas that haven’t been worked before.

Last spring I worked up this new area in the garden and I picked out tons of big rocks while preparing the area. This spring we reworked the soil with some amendments and I picked out several bucketfuls of smaller rocks, only a few large ones.

Next year I’ll still pick out a several bucketfuls of smaller rocks and probably the year after that as well. I still get a bucketful of rocks from the front foundation bed when I weed and I’ve been picking rocks out of it for the last 9 years!

I’ve always got a bucket by my side to throw the smaller rocks into. I make piles of the bigger rocks around the property and we use those for rock walls and for stepping stones in the garden.

I’m currently saving them to edge the driveway in my efforts to keep the driveway gravel out of the garden on the lower side garden. (yes I have to pick those out of the garden as well *sigh*)

What’s your gardening nemesis?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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