Weeds! Bugs!

When we started our backyard garden we were given a lot of advice...some of it helpful and some, of course, not so helpful.  One of the "not so helpful" phrases we heard many times was, "Start small.  Don't plant more than you can weed."  To an experienced gardener, I'm sure that means a lot.  To us, well, let's just say we didn't know how fast weeds would grow.  I'm not writing this post to discourage you from gardening.  It is well worth it!  Just plan extra time for weeding and bug prevention.

Here's a typical scenario:  You prep an area to plant and then plant it.  You think "That was easy."  So, the next weekend you start another (larger) area to plant, almost finishing.  By the third weekend, you get the second area finished and planted.  But, oops!  The first area (which have not have time to watch) is full of weeds already!  Unfortunately, the weekend is gone and the next week you are at work late each night and the next weekend you have planned to be at a family gathering, not gardening.

Plus, I have learned that I have no idea how long various gardening and landscaping projects will really take.  For example, when I guessed that installing 30 rosemary and lavender plants (to deter deer) would take 10 hours (surely, it can't take that long to dig a hole and put in a plant), it took 40 hours of digging out large limestone rocks.  Of course, not much weeding got done in those extra 30 hours.  After the 40 hours of digging rocks, we noticed bugs eating our garden and had to research how to kill and prevent them (organically).  And somehow the weeds didn't stop growing just because I was on another project.  (That's a life lesson, too.)

So, my recommendations if you are new to gardening:  First, multiply whatever time you are planning for a project by 3.  Second, estimate how much time you can devote to weeding each week.  The 6 foot X 9 foot herb plot pictured above took me 23 minutes to weed after being left for 3 weeks untouched.  So, if I have 20 minutes to weed each week, I should have no more than 3 beds that size.  Either I can weed all 3 every week; meaning fewer weeds per bed, but weeding 3 beds.  Or I can weed one bed every 3 weeks.  This assumes not having other projects (or vacations) instead of weeding.

You'll work out your own system, and this is not an exact science.  And don't be discouraged.  We "got behind" in weeding and bug preventing many times.  Most things still survived, and we are doing better in our second year (no 40 hour rosemary/lavender projects).  But hopefully estimating how long it takes to weed a 6X9 bed will help you know what "don't plant more than you can weed" means for you.


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