I have a section in my back yard that used to be an herb garden. The mint has pretty much gone feral (previous owners didn’t do anything with the area for 5 years) and took over the patch and adjacent gravel walk way. Last April I blasted the area with the rototiler and planted a reasonably varied veggie garden there and not a damn thing came up. With the understanding that I essentially tilled a mint patch into a veggie garden, would I be right in suspecting and herbicidal effect from the mint? Or is my soil probably just dead?
Where are you located, what exactly did you plant, and how? Based on watching my gf’s vegetable growing efforts, you often need to plant the seeds in small pots, bring them on in a greenhouse, plant them out, feed them, water them, protect and nurture them, in order to get something worthwhile for the slugs to eat. I would imagine that just e.g. sticking the seeds in some tilled but undressed soil is unlikely to be very successful unless the’re very vigourous veggies.
I do not believe mint acts as a herbicide, although it does have some insecticidal properties. Most likely the soil is just in poor shape and/or unsuitable for the veggies. What is the texture like, and how deep did you till it? Did you apply any fertiliser? Did you even manage to get any weeds to grow?
Mint grows in the poorest of soil and it will grow mad. That being said, herbs are usually very easy to grow, so I second the thought that your soil is of poor quality. Buy some good potting soil, start them in pots as slaphead says.
Tilled it down about 12 inches, planted as directed directly into the dirt, watered daily, full sunlight…same way I’ve always done in the past (Denver, CO) with excellent results. It was almost as if someone had come behind be and picked out the seeds, except that I eventually did get some sprouts, but they were sickly little things mingled in amongst the weeds. I’m not one to grow county fair-winning produce, but I’m confident enough in my abilities to say that the blame here rests solely with the dirt. I’ll be doing some construction over the fall/winter which will make my current dirt a non-issue, but I’m also concerned about vicious feral mint plants taking over the gravel. I don’t want to execute a massive chemical assault to control it so close to the garden, but it’s threatening to choke my AC condenser!
I have weeds aplenty. Pretty stuff too–giant thistles, 5 foot tall black-eyed susans, sunflowers, pampas grass…pretty, but not what I want in that location. It all came up after I tilled it into flour. Musta been some deep roots?
Just a wag: Could I sufficiently damage the soil under my gravel walk with … salt … to keep the mint down?
I plan on levelling the whole plot, laying down a weed barrier, building a 3-5 foot retaining wall all around the area (sort of a 15x20 ft plateau coming out of a gentle slope) and filling the thing with sand & organic topsoil. The south wall will have small bays for tomato plants & strawberries, and I’ll be putting an apple tree near the southeast corner (not “in” the garden, but about 10 feet away). What doesn’t get eaten by kids & yellowjackets will get chucked into the garden for compost. This is where Inigo discovers that apples destroy garden soil. :smack:
You can actually over till the soil, so you may have damaged the soil tilth by doing that (assuming your comment about “tilling it into flour” is accurate). Over tilling will result in soil that is easily compacted and hard for seedlings to root in.
I actually posted this much earlier, of course the board stopped responding during the post.
Picking a variety of apple like McIntosh will be important. You will have a good set with only a McIntosh, although a different variety can increase the set. Remember that flowering crabs also pollinate standard apples. Look at the charts to find good cross-pollinators if you can plant two varieties. Most apple varieties need to be cross-pollinated.
VunderBob mentions RoundUp, which is indeed an option – and a good one for a gravel walk. Keep in mind that RoundUp kills everything, so if you get drift, you can damage other plants.
I’ve successfully killed a lot of stuff growing between pavers and the like with plain ol’ white vinegar. Douse the mint thoroughly and give it a few days. Your feral mint may not succumb, but it’s a very easy and cheap thing to try.
I’ve kept mint at bay just by pulling it up like crazy. Because it roots anywhere the stems touch the soil, it’s pretty shallowly rooted. OTH, it will resprout from a very small piece of root. But if you keep at it, you can at least keep it under control.
This is because you have one of the few self fertile varieties, perhaps a McIntosh.
Most varieties need a different variety to fertilize them. You need to remember that varieties of fruit trees are exact genetic clones of each other. This is why most don’t pollinate from another of the same variety planted close. Most require a different variety close by for heavy fruit set. This is true for other fruit trees as well.
Well, it’s a useful hijack at any rate…IIRC a lone aple tree is not really a lone apple tree if there is another sort within a mile or so. I suppose the actual distance would depend on what you have in the way of bees in the neighborhood. But I do have an ornamental crab apple tree about 40 feet away. I have room, if I can find one I would have no qualms about plopping a granny smith over by the back fence amongst the lavender & lilacs (Donny Osmond would love this place!) and then something like a mac or fuji next to the garden.
Since we’re on to planting fruit trees…best time of year for that is right now is it not?
THere are, IIRC, thousands of species of sage, so it might be some kind of sage. It’s not the species that is used as culinary sage, however. Without the purple, it might be pineapple sage, which has no purple in it. It might conceivably be a species of oreganum as well, although the commonest culinary one. It also might be basil, of which there are many species as well, although the little hairs make me doubt that.
More pictures, please, and what does it smell like?