Last Monday it was also time to tackle the soil improvement of the vegetable patch. While the base soil is very good to begin with, last year’s reduced crops showed that it is lacking some nutrients. My gardening friend, owner of the secret garden and lessor of the vegetable patch, had used sheep wool as a fertilizer for her potatoes and added deposits of some kind of fertilizing mushrooms that the plants can „snack” on as required in her vegetable beds, I mainly focused on weeding and spreading a multi-purpose organic fertilizer. With our different approaches, it is interesting to see how crops are faring in the different locations and conditions during the growing season. For some reason, both of our carrot seeds did not take. Her salads were mostly eaten by snails, while mine thrived. On the other hand, her zucchinis grew beautifully, while my plant remained small. Although we tried to help it with the special mushroom treatment, it was rapidly consumed by mildew.At the end of the day, we share whatever is in season and grows abundantly between us two anyway, so it not a matter of competition, but jointly observing what works where.

I decided on a new approach to reduce our most prolific “weed”: bishop’s goutweed. It’s too time consuming to painstakingly dig out all the small roots to no avail. Last year people kept telling me that you can add goutweed to salads and how healthy it is, but I was on a crusade and set on getting rid of it.  This year, I have four reasons to my new approach:

  1. 1. I really do not feel like working my way inch by inch through the vegetable patch again (my back will thank me!). It may be a tiny patch (2 by 3 meters/ 6,5 feet by 10  feet), but digging up the many small crawling shoots makes the area feel massive.
  2. 2. I read that by harvesting goutweed it naturally diminishes reproduction over time.
  3. 3. I believe weeds are mostly really beautiful plants who are unfortunate to grow in an area considered inappropriate by the gardener.
  4. 4. I am curious how I will like it in my salads.

So, I will take a more forgiving approach and will eat it this year instead of ripping it out. I am curious if this token of goutweed acceptance will make a difference.

To prepare the soil improvement, I harvested the field salad that I planted as cover crops last fall, hoed the earth with the front of the rake and used the backside to smooth out the topography of the vegetable patch. Then I added two big bags of compost, working around the primroses, little purple sage bush and sprouting bushel of forget-me-nots and chives (seen in the upper right-hand corner of the photo). 

When I straightened my back and looked at the area, it felt like I had painted the rich dark new earth with large brushstrokes. It felt like throwing the earth onto its lighter backdrop was an act of a painter haphazardly smearing paint on a canvas and creating abstract shapes and new forms through this organic and intuitive process. I took this photo to preserve the moment and then continued on to mix the compost into the earth.