Ok, I know, it’s officially spring and that means the beginning of Panic Season. There is so much to DO, I haven’t even taken time to write on this blog for over a month. As every plant awakes, every weed seed jumps out of its pod, every blade of grass begins it’s spring flush, and as our neighbors are frantically revving up their lawnmowers and weed trimmers twice a week if not more often, how can we NOT feel the intensity of this “now or never” insanity? New seeds and primroses, pansies, and daffodils have arrived earlier than ever, and the stores have metamorphosed into a riot of color (and can someone tell me why lots of bright colors are described as a “riot?” Surely they didn’t live through the 60s!). But seriously, as a plant addict, this seems to be unreasonable temptation. I am salivating over seed racks and strawberry plants I don’t need, and I often arrive home wondering, “Where am I going to put this?”
Spring. We are breathing a sigh of relief – “Ahhh – Spring has arrived!” – while gasping in overwhelmed apprehension – agghh! Spring has Arrived! – seemingly overnight. Just as we’ve finished up with pruning chores (we hope!), we are already behind in starting starts, planting plants, prepping pots, building beds, digging up grass before it can’t be dug, pruning out the dead stuff, and trying to instill some sense of order before we can’t – recognizing that we never could anyway, which is, indeed, the definition of insanity.
Whoaa whoaaa whoaaaa –
I am going to add one more desperate need to your to-do list, which should be *starred* in order of necessity, since in reality, we are taking care of desperate needs first. And since we are in triage mode (not my normal ADHD/easily-sidetracked mode), this is a 5-star order: WEED YOUR GARLIC.
Now. Not tomorrow. Not – “Oh, it looks like it’s doing fine – it’s a strong plant & can hang in there while I plant more sweet peas…”
It should have been done before the equinox – so if you were on top of things, Bravo! Yes! Plant more sweet peas, spinach, salad greens, kale, chard, beets, broccoli, berries, shrubs, trees, and the many of their kind who love to get a good start before the heat arrives….
But – if you didn’t get the Round To-it, here is the deal:
Early Spring is the most important weeding you will EVER DO in your garlic bed.
Bold & Italics-type Seriously.
- Because the tender, brittle roots have not yet extensively spread throughout the soil – so weeding now is less likely to break them.
- Because the weeds, too, are just getting going – and although some may seem quite large already (especially grass and dandelions) – it’s nothing compared to how quickly they will soon get a grip in the soil, at which point, they may be impossible to remove without damaging the garlic.
- Because the chickweed, for example, can easily be pulled out, but will soon go to seed and be all over the place (eat it – you’re not weeding; you’re harvesting).
- Because if you applied mulch, you have to get it off there pronto so the ground can dry out and warm up (or you risk getting the dreaded MOLD) – and while you’re at it, you can clean things up.
- Because everyone is beginning the competition for nutrients – and you need to help your garlic by eliminating (or at least reducing) the competition. They can’t do it on their own. Indeed. You DO have a purpose.
- Because the garlic is now a hungry green vegetable – and Now is the best time to give it more nitrogen, kelp, and fish fertilizer. Healthy green leaves now mean bigger bulbs later. It’s important. Really important.
- Because the last thing you want to do is fertilize a bunch of greedy weeds determined to dominate the universe! Get them out of there!
So – Go for it. Pull back the mulch if it’s there. Weed that garlic. Give them some food. Tell them how proud of them you are for getting through the winter. It doesn’t mean that easier days are ahead, though. There are more weeds out there that want to steal their food and water and strangle them out of existence. There are incessant natural forces of wind, rain, and blistering heat. After they survive the elements, they are lifted out of the comfort of the soil and are left to desiccate in dry air. Lastly, they are chopped into tiny pieces and outright eaten with great relish by ravishing beasts. Such is life.
While you are lovingly nurturing these tender (yet sturdy!) sprouts, don’t tell them that last part, mmm-kay?