Hatred for the Vegetable Garden

by Scott Smith

I hate my vegetable garden this year. I really do. I think it’s because I worked so hard on prep this year, knowing that my time in the garden would be limited by the fact that I’m working full time at an office job now. I weeded and weeded and then weeded some more before laying out my mother’s extravagant gift of that black, fabric weed barrier. I carefully laid it out, secured it with the earth staples, planted in careful rows. The most magical thing about the fabric is it’s ability to levitate. The weeds raised the fabric, pulling the pins clean out of the ground. So, now weeding is even harder because I have to move the fabric out of the way in order to do it. I’m crushed and my produce sucks.

However, Barb! saved me from my black mood by sending me an email full of links to the concept of the ‘edible forest.’ I’ve thought about edible landscapes but the edible forest takes this to a new level that hadn’t occurred to me, although I realize it’s been going on for a long time. You basically use plants that produce foods that you like (and that do well in your area) and lay them out in a way that borrows from the structure of a ‘natural’ forest. Some of the plants produce food for the gardener, others produce food for the other plants, and of course all of it feeds nature by attracting birds and a healthy balance of insects. I’m thinking about planting cherry trees around the existing tree in front of the barn, black raspberries around the edges, comfrey for ground cover (and food for the chickens apparently), and I’ll figure the rest out from there. I might even get really ambitious and inoculate some wood with mushroom spore.

Next year, the formal vegetable garden will be given over to the asparagus (which I hope to expand), and lettuces, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini will be planted among the perennials, and somewhere there will be a strawberry patch. I’ve had it with fighting the formal weed vegetable garden.

The fabric won’t go to waste. It will be used for paths… I’ll lay down cardboard, a sheet of killing compost, the fabric and then a nice thick layer of mulch. We’ll see what the weeds have to say about that.

A couple morel links:

MSU Student Organic Farm
Oikos Tree Crops