Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I have so many weeds coming up!

Linda from Indiana asks...

I know that I did not "put my garden to bed" before winter very well, and I have so many weeds coming up!

Should I try to pick every weed? Can I use any covering to kill the weeds? I need to get this done, but I want to do it as efficiently and completely as I can. 

Please let me know what you think, and thanks. 


Well Linda, let me assure you that you are not alone.  This is partially why so many people love their weedkillers!  We for one, though, are not these people and have some options for you that will help to get rid of these pesky "successful" plants in a environmentally friendly way. 

1)  You suggestion of picking every one is definitely one way that will ensure that you are able to get rid of as many of your weeds as possible.  This can be a very thorough job but can also be time consuming if you are itching to get to planting!  Keep in mind that your weeds propagate in three major ways, by spreading seeds efficiently, spreading under the ground by roots, corms, tubers or bulbs, and trailing tendrils that where they touch the ground take root.  For those that grow by dispersion of seed and have shallow root systems pulling the weed before it goes to seed can be effective.  Others may have a very large or tough root to kill like dandelions, wild dock, wild onions and wild garlic.  Interestingly enough the four aforementioned common weeds are also edible.  To get rid of these though you have to completely dig up the root or expect that it will pop out again and you will have to just "kill" it again. 

2)  Covering the garden beds with a impermeable covering IE black plastic or weed guard, for instance, can be effective in killing the foliage therefore starving the weed from nutrition.  In effect, this is accomplishing the very same effect, of killing the foliage, as most weedkillers.  Another advantage is that this can also warm the soil for a little earlier planting.  Pin or stake the covering down well and leave for a week or two.  This works especially well if killing out lawn for a first time planted garden.  A possible side effect though for covering a previously broken up piece of ground is that by warming up the soil it may allow more dormant weed seeds to sprout that just needed those few extra degrees and moisture to give them a boost. 
3)  You can opt to burn off the weeds and left over leaves and dead plants from last season.  This will help to sterilize the soil, perhaps killing some of the seeds closest to the top of the ground, and killing some diseases resting in the soil waiting to attack you garden lovelies this season. Keep in mind that for the most part this is only recommended every three to four years, not every year.
4)  You can also combine killing these weeds with prepping the soil all in one shot.  By thoroughly breaking up the soil, (by hand tools, tiller, cultivator, tractor plow and disc, tractor rototiller, etc.) you can kill these early emerging weeds and break up the soil for planting all at the same time.  Keep in mind, very deep roots will not be eliminated, dormant seeds will still be there, and breaking up the soil may "awaken" other weeds.  The dead weed plants will need to be removed from the garden.
5)  You can spray the weeds with an organic, Eco-friendly weed killer.  There are many home recipes out there made with simple household ingredients.  Just be cautious as to what you are putting on your garden.  It is one thing to put a mixture of salt, bleach and dish soap on your driveway weeds but quite another to put on your garden beds. 
We have used combinations of all of the above over the years. We hope this has helped.  Hopefully those pesky weeds won't survive in suburbia this garden season!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

From what we knew to what we can do

     When our ancestors first came to the vast wilder woods of the Midwest, they brought with them generations of passed down knowledge.  Knowledge of how to and what to look for and when you do this and that.  All this knowledge was their toolkit, their DIY guide to raising a family, to not go hungry, to help those they met, to heal their ills, to surviving in this World.
     So much of that has been left behind.  So much has been buried away.  So much has been lost.  So much was not cared for and left to become esoteric only known by the fringe and labeled as archaic and shelved on dusty shelves as an artifact of who we were.  Closed up in boxes and covered in darkness only accessible with white cotton gloves or a gray headed escort, talking in what seems like an indecipherable dead language with little to no connection to our modern sensibilities, it has been hidden from our interests for generations.  But suddenly a glowing light is growing on the horizon.
       A generation is coming of age in a new age of knowledge.  Darkness passes us on the street and pops up on our news-feed.  A growing need of something is felt in our hearts.  Our minds start to wander from our learned experiences and our college degrees and start to hear an inner voice that is more instinctual.  So now starts the search for that forgotten knowledge.  Those basic life skills that used to be our tour guide in life. Now is the time to go back...So we can go forward.  Stronger than before.  No longer lost in cyber space.  It is time to learn how again to survive instinctively.  So that we can survive and thrive in suburbia.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Survivalist in suburbia

Welcome to our suburban homesteading blog.
We decided to create this blog in tandem with multiple projects that we have recently started in our community related to gardening, self-sustenance and service in the last year. If you are joining us from one of those projects or classes, we hope this becomes a valuable resource for you as you implement the techniques taught there. If you are from a different community it is our hope that you too will find this site helpful both in your personal life and throughout your community as well.  It is our goal to explore, share, and encourage the many ways in which anyone can lead a more self-sustaining life style no matter where they are or how much land they do or do not own. We will begin with the topic we know the most about which is gardening. Having gardened on all sorts of properties suburban and other wise (mostly rentals) we have a lot of personal experience and years of research. We strive for organic gardening that meets the majority of our dietary and health needs. This includes natural pest control options, a balance of vegetables, fruits and iron rich foods, medicinal herbs, and natural beauty and meditative qualities.
We also want to share our experiences as we strive to live more independent commercial resources while still keeping our home close to family in a typical suburban, subdivision with a strict home owners’ association. We know what kind of challenge this will be but we want to make the most of effort by sharing this journey with those who might have also wondered if such a lifestyle is possible in their living arrangement.  This will include scavenging and hunting in public or “friendly” woods, resource conservation, recycling and upcycling, natural energy sources, and goods and services swapping. Warning we believe firmly in moderation so you will not find extreme lifestyle topics here. Though my husband I would love to go completely off the grid, we have kids and parents and friends who would probably not be too keen about going with us. So, yes, we are trying to find and keep the best of both worlds and we can’t wait to take you along for the ride. Thank you for joining us.

 The Stewarts
Steven, Amber, Tess, and Graham