Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Prepping the garden

Jon is the main gardener in the house and I, the preserver.  This past weekend Jon has been doing major renovations in the yard.  We have these nuisance bulbs/weeds that never seem to disappear.  No matter how many bulbs we pull up, more show up the next year.  These bulbs sprout cute little purple flowers, but they're certainly not cute enough to keep around.  Here is a picture of the pile of bulbs, other weeds, and leaves that were collected in just 3 days.  The pile is about 7 feet long and 3.5 feet tall.  What's depressing, we have many more to pull...

What is the best way to get rid of unwanted bulbs?  Two years ago we placed a minimum of 2 layers of cardboard on top of the bulbs covered with wood chips.  The cardboard has disintegrated since then and the bulbs are back!!  Can bulbs be "cooked" in a compost pile at home?  We have yard debris pickup at the curb here in Portland, but we don't want to send everything to the yard debris collection place even if it is turned back into compost and woodchips.  Not only is there a lot of good black dirt clinging to those weeds and bulbs, but we'd like to keep things on our property as much as possible and process it here which is certainly more sustainable. 

In the past, our garden beds were too large because it was nearly impossible to reach the middle of the bed without placing the heal of your hand or knee into the box when reaching to the center.  With a few extra 2x4's, a saw, and some nails, we cut up the two large boxes and constructed 4 small boxes.  We have 8 different raised beds for a total of 125 square feet of gardening space!  That is a lot of area to cover.  Jon decided to adopt the square foot garden method this year.  Seeds are planted in 1x1 square foot plots, and when harvested, a new plant is installed in the square.  Apparently this method increases your crop yield by 20%.

Jon decided to make a cold frame this year by using some of our old windows. Ideally the cold frame should be shorter, but we're waiting to see if this will work before we cut the glass.  The pots are placed on top of a metal grate which is resting on top of the garden box.  Two scrap boards are used as a heat vent so the plants don't cook.  If we place the pots directly on the soil, slugs will demolish everything.  We're not sure if this will work, but like most things in the yard, it's an experiment!

With Excel, Jon designed our garden for this year.  We're still in the process of learning companion planting. 


Phoebe April 14, 2011 at 12:21 PM  

Your little blue flower bulbs are probably Scilla (siberian squill). It is considered by many to be a dangerous invader of natural habitats.

Of more concern to you is the fact that it is mildly poisonous and can cause a poison oak like rash for some people. It is poisonous to eat.

They are a major pain and they are planted in every yard. They are "easy to grow" and boy isn't that true!
I have not had to deal with as many as you have though, ugh.

My experience with the bulbs is that you can get some of them to die and compost but they just make nice dirt for the ones that don't die. If you turn your pile now and then you might be able to catch the ones surviving. I am sorry to say that home compost piles rarely get hot enough to "cook" anything. Our piles just don't usually get big enough.
Another option is to hose your dirt off of the bulbs and send them to the yard debris where they get piles big enough to cook them. Then they turn into real dirt and don't just keep haunting you.

Holly April 16, 2011 at 9:42 AM  

Thank you Phoebe for the info! Yes, we do have some of those Scilla but we also have these other bluebell-looking flowers. I just attached a picture of them at the beginning of this post. Maybe they are a hyancith of some sort?

Another way to get rid of them is by squishing the bulbs on the pavement. They do make a lovely pop under the foot but they also make a slimy mess.

Anonymous November 29, 2013 at 5:30 PM  

Hello, I was enjoying your blog when I saw these familiar flowers. They are called 'heavenly bluebells' and are actually very popular in my area (Massachusetts).
AKA Grape hyacinth/muscari.
Might be able to sell these since you have so many; I paid around ..Adam

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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