Sunday, September 5, 2010

Free Garden Paths!

I got to spend some quality time in the dirt this weekend. I harvested the first of the carrots...

and found all kinds of baby pumpkins, pickling cucumbers, a few baby green beans and some green cherry tomatoes all waiting to grow and ripen and end up in my family's tummy...or the freezer...or the canning cupboard. My one gardening downfall though, the thing that makes me growl every time I wander out there, is the paths in between my raised beds. They are full of weeds that usually get left untended until they grow higher than the beds. Then I'll take the weed eater out there, whack them down and it looks nice for about a week until they all start to grow back. And because I'm so cheap, I've been trying to figure out really thrifty ways to solve my problem. This weekend I was finally able to tackle the job and I'm pleased with the FREE results.

I started by whacking the weeds down (again) and this is what I was left with.

Next I grabbed FREE flattened cardboard boxes from the recycle bins behind some local stores and laid them along the paths making sure to overlap them and get as close to the edges as I could to keep the weeds from sneaking by. I didn't bother to cut them into pieces either. I laid them down whole so they left a double-thick cardboard layer. The cardboard serves two purposes; it smothers the weeds underneath while also slowly decomposing to form rich organic matter in the garden.

Here's the extra fun part. I noticed some neighbors had hired a company to come out and chip up some branches and chop down a few trees. My smart husband decided to go over and see what they were going to do with the wood chips. Turns out they were more than happy to drive them right over to our driveway and dump them in a pile for FREE. It saved them the cost of having to dispose of them and they also gave us the wood from the trees they chopped down too. So we got several rounds of free firewood waiting to be split and seasoned.

So we spread our free wood chips on top of the cardboard to make nice tidy organic paths that will keep the weeds away for a several seasons before enriching the soil as they decompose.

Ahhh, project completed.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful. This is a good example of what you can get for free, when you keep your eyes open, an open mind, and ask nicely!

I'm planning on looking for houses being demolished in my area once we get a house with my husband, because the old windows can be used to make a greenhouse, or those glass covered growing boxes for the garden.

Sometimes it costs nothing, sometimes a little bit of pocket money to get the old window panes in their frames. Those can be built in a basic frame from 2 by 4's, and you've got a new addition to your garden! :)

Roxie700 said...

I have never done that with card board boxes (great idea) but I have useed several layers of newspaper. Works too. Also I have used old carpet too. When the neighbors changed out their carpet I took the strips of carpet and laid them down on the path ways. Works well too.

Anonymous said...

Awesome job! I would love to get free wood chips like that. Your going to have great soil when it breaks down.

I have really bad clay soil and lots of weeds (huge yard). 1 1/2 years ago I put down newspaper with a mixture of my compost & some bought mulch over the newspaper to kill those weeds. Still had weeds due to wind blowing weed seeds on my mulch. BUT when I dug in the soil this summer I had rich loamy soil and lots of earthworms (they had done all the work!). I've tried for years to incorporate stuff into my soil and in one season the earthworms did it for me.

I'm totally sold on the cardboard/newspaper trick!

Jennifer said...

It looks great! I used thick layers of newspaper last time I mulched but it only lasted for a season. next time i will try the cardboard.