The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Done in My Garden

I confess. I’ve done lots of dumb things in my gardens over my lifetime. Like when I spent entire afternoons walking our just plowed fields lugging a five gallon bucket and collecting small rocks. I dragged those heavy, half full, buckets back to my new garden and lined the edges with a row of carefully embedded rocks. Oy!! What a job. But it looked fabulous – – – that is until the grass from the path and the weeds from the beds completely obliterated the rocks. What a dumb idea. I eventually removed all the rocks to a pile by the compost.


Or how about the time, one fair spring, I covered all my paths with cardboard topped with old hay. The paths looked fabulous . That is until the weed seeds from the hay sprouted and overran the paths and the spring rains turned the cardboard into slippery sleds. I slipped on those “sleds” and almost fell more times than I can count. I finally learned to put the cardboard on the paths in the fall so it melded with the soil during the winter and early spring . Simply changing the timing made walking on the paths safer. I also learned to use straw instead of spoiled hay because it contained way fewer weed seeds.

But the dumbest, by far, was dragging home a truckload of old carpeting for mulching the paths between the raised beds. I’m sure any gardener who has done much reading has come across the suggestion to “don’t throw that old carpeting away – – use it in your garden!!” Well let me tell you DON”T DO IT!!! I followed this great sounding advice and I’m still paying for it.

In the late 80’s (yes, I mean the late 1980’s!) we brought home a load of gold carpeting our friends had ripped out of their living room. I was sooo excited. Finally, or so I thought, I would not have to spend time weeding the paths between the new raised beds. Allllright!!!! We cut and laid the carpeting over every path and looked forward to less work over the summer. Truth be told there was less weeding that summer. But – – and this is a BIG but – – over time a major problem loomed because . . . . .

A few years later we realized that the garden beds were in a low, wet spot. So – – we rearranged the beds. Here is where the big “but” became reality. There was no way the carpeting could be completely removed. It had started to breakdown into the soil. Yuck!!! Those gold yarns broke apart and glommed (is that a word?) together into clumps that spread themselves throughout the soil. We pulled up what was obvious but those hidden clumps wrapped themselves round and round the tines of the tiller. We spent hours disentangling those blasted threads. We couldn’t dig out the pieces because the strands made an impermeable layer in the soil. I had to tediously rake the individual small clumps out – one by one. AAARAUGH!!! What a nightmare.

It is now 2012, (remember we brought the carpeting home in the the late 80’s!), and every time I work in the garden beds I come across strings of that gold carpet. Plus, the edges of our biggest perennial bed now run across where the carpeting used to lay. To this day, when I edge that perennial bed, I run into undiggable layers of that gold fabric. Gads!! It is so frustrating. If cockroaches are scuttering around after the “end of time” in my garden they will, I am certain, be scuttering around pieces of that gold carpeting.

I beg you – DO NOT listen to those happy authors that tell you “don’t throw that old carpeting away – – use it in your garden!” Don’t do it – Don’t do it – Don’t do it!

Hey From the Farm,

Fran The Country Cousin

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