Re: Gardening this year?
The sheep troughs are about knee-level on me, so not a problem to weed with my Longnecker weeder. I have not mulched them in years past, but I have to solve a different issue this year, so may use some mulching fabric or plastic.
We have that new stray dog, Suzie Q, and she is LOVING the beds that Mike has filled so far. Fresh, rich, fragrant composted soil is a real draw and fun to dig in...so I may have to roll out some chicken wire over the trough rows, to thwart her.
I put five ten by two foot troughs in a fifty-foot row, two rows. That gives me two 2x50 planting beds (which is a wealth of planting space in square foot method, which relies on succession planting for a full season's food.)
That matches my 50' soaker hoses, which I run down the center of each row. Each row is set on top of a fifty-foot section of salvaged conveyor belting my SIL scavenged from his workplace. That keeps the ground underneath the troughs from getting weedy. (Actually, one belt is about 6-7 feet short, so I am trying a piece of scrap carpetting under that portion this year. I've read that waste carpetting is good under garden paths for several years...so we'll see.)
I have to keep Suzie from digging out the troughs, and so picked up a couple of fifty-foot rolls of two-foot wide, two-inch mesh chicken wire this week at Lowe's. I am thinking of running a roll of black fiber mulch fabric (cheap at Sam's, Walmart or any big box home store) over the tops of the troughs, under the wire. Everything needs to be installed in the correct order, so I have some planning to do.
It goes like this here, from the ground up: Belting/carpet under troughs, troughs, soil/compost mix level full to top rim of trough, soaker hoses down center( pin in place with ground staples if necessary), mulching fabric or plastic, chicken wire to keep Suzie from digging. Everything is recycled, repurposed, salvaged or supplies on hand, except the wire, which cost me $16.54 plus tax.
We will be teeing into one of those hose splitters to connect the soaker hoses, and I will be adding a third solid hose to a circular sprinkler in the center of the "Tramposter" I invented for the pumpkin vines. That will cost about $6 for a cheap, spike sprinkler I saw at Lowe's on Friday...I may already have something similar in a storage box, so waited to check before buying one.
We use scrap garden hose salvaged from the farm ( hog building supply to pressure washers for washdown hoses), cut it to the length we need to reach each trough row, and put those male and female ends on as needed, to make connections.
If we do not get sufficient rain in a week, we irrigate. I put a cheap mechanical water hose timer in the line at the spigot, and set it for an hour or so. It cuts itself off, so we can't possibly forget and drown the garden...more important for people with a weak well, so as not to run it dry.
Since we are replacing the swimming pool liner is a couple of weeks. I plan to salvage pieces of that 30-mil plastic for garden weed block, too. Once it's down, I will very likely use gravel or rock dust over it, so I'll bascially never have to replace it again. I am tired of moving mulch sacks...mulch rots really fast on this very damp land, and in our summer heat, it just rots at warp speed.
The decking lumber left from our old pool deck, which is now replaced, may be some new deck "pads" in some spots in the yard where grass doesn't grow...I haven't had time to plan for that yet. I will probably wait to get that pool plastic, to block grass under them.
I want to move the grill a bit further from the rear wall of the house, where Mike has it on the stoop. I think it's not really as safe as I'd like it to be it there. As I raked yesterday, started eyeing a spot under two pretty shade trees about 25 feet further out. May be able to get him to tote the chicken and shrimp skewers that much further, if I set a couple of comfy chairs out there, too.
Still have to decide where to set my scavenged protein tub planters this year, and exactly where we'd notice and pick the most herbs...maybe a few pots (those bright blue tubs) on the pool deck? Herbs really need to be on a well-beaten path, I think, to get maximum use.
I really want to get more use out of our backyard...this place is laid out oddly, and our traffic paths are sort of atypical, I think. I go out the "front" door to access the kennel, pool/poolhouse, office, sheds and garage. The side door is where most visitors approach the house to knock.
The back door goes basically nowhere now, which needs to change. It will be the door to the garden, in addition to the present access to the grill and the woodpile for the cookstove. We have so much room here, it's almost hard to decide how to organize things, so they make sense.
I am applying the same standard to what we do outside now as what we do inside...it has to lessen the workload and let us age with it well. Built some dumb habits over fifteen years, and need to change some of them. Buying bagged bark was one of them...I'm declaring a moratorium on that from now on.
Re: Gardening this year?
If we mulch those cole crops, it is with newspapers covered in straw. When we put the plants in, we put a piece of TP cardboard roll or can around the plant in the soil to keep the cutworms from chomping on the stem. Have to keep the mulch away from these or they will only be an aid to the cutworms.