2006-11-30 / About Town

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

If you have already put your garden to bed for the winter,

I hate to tell you, but there's more to do. Your vegetable and flower gardens could use a little help right now so that you don't leach nutrients and minerals out of the soil over the winter. In the mild weather we've been having, I've been able to get a jump on preparing the soil for next season. You might like to get organized, too.

First, I dragged several cubic yards of seaweed into the garden and spread it over the beds about 1 to 2 inches deep. On top of the seaweed I spread a couple of inches of compost. This was followed by a layer of grass and chopped leaves. When I mowed the lawn last week using a mulching mower, the grass and leaf mixture was laid on the garden beds about 3 to 4 inches deep. In spring, I do not walk on the beds or remove the mulch. The entire deep mulch is left on the bed until it rots. Next spring, all I need do is add some more compost over everything, and then scrape away the mulch where I want to plant and the job's done. No digging, no more work. The only problem I find is that a lot of slugs hide in the mulch, so a little lime around each plant takes care of them. Anyone want to buy a rototiller? I haven't used it in four years.

Now is the time to clean, repair, and sharpen your hand tools, too. Bring all your garden tools into your workshop and thoroughly clean them. Coat them with a layer of oil by wiping each tool with an oily rag. Use a good wood oil on the handles, either teak or linseed oil. Sharpen the blades of hoes, clippers, snips, and knives.

Your power tools should come under scrutiny as well. Take each gas-powered tool and empty out the fuel. If it is four-stroke fuel use it up in your car. If it is twostroke fuel put an additive such as Stabil or Enzyme Treatment from StarBrite into it and save it for next year. Remove all filters. If they are the sponge type, clean them using dishwashing soap, dry them, and then add a little clean oil. If they are paper filters, toss them out and replace them. Remove and replace the spark plugs. If your tools are old, check the points and replace if needed.

On your string trimmer, replace the line. Lubricate any bearings as needed. Sharpen your chain saw, and get it ready in case we get a storm and tree limbs come down. Leaf blowers, shredders, hedge trimmers, and generators should be made ready as required.

Finally, wait for the seed catalogs to arrive, sit by the fire and start perusing them. I've already seen a bunch of them and have just received one from Dixondale Farms in Texas. They sell onion sets, and last year, I spent $20 for four bunches of 60 onions. I got the best onions ever, but the only problem was, what to do with them after harvest. There's only so much French onion soup and pissaladiere (French onion and anchovy pizza) that you can make. That said, we'll look at what's new for seeds and what works in our area in a few weeks.

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