Working a large garden while blind

brandywine2001(Texas)February 13, 2005

My husband grows a large vegetable garden every year. The problem he has is, keeping up with the weeds. I would say the grass burs and the grass hoppers are the worst. He is looking for new ideas, how to solve this problem.

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Blind_Aquilegia(ZN 5b IL)

I've been blind since my early twenties (about 20 years), and began active gardening about 4 years ago. Last spring I put in some mixed flower / herb / vegie beds using ideas from the Square Foot gardening forum here at Garden Web.

I knew that I would be able to orient myself better using the intensive methods they describe. Creating long straight rows by yourself just isn't that easy! But there were some other advantages to the techniques they use for sq foot gardening. One thing they do is use carpet squares as a seed guide and weed suppressant. Put holes in the carpet using the suggested spacing. Lay the 12" x 12" square for planting. Sow seeds in holes. When the seeds germinate they come up through the holes. Weeds don't get a chance! Before trying this I do recommend you read over at that forum, as some folks also describe some disadvantages to the carpet method.

I adapted the carpet idea and used Braille paper instead. It's not quite 1 foot square, but it's close, and it's thick and absorbs water easily. I found that I could either borrow my husband's eyes to cut holes or I could fold the paper different ways to get the spacing I needed. The paper may need to be weighted down to prevent wind blowing it away, but once dampened it tends to stay put. It worked great to suppress weeds. Only thing is  I was just dealing with 3 garden beds, each just 4' x 5'.

This intense method also means that once plants are mature there isn't much space for weeds.

I don't know if there is a way to adapt these ideas to a larger garden, but I sure understand your husband's battle with weeds. For me I always worry that I'll pull up what I planted -- that was something else the method I describe helped me to avoid.

Hope this helps  or at least gets him thinking about some ways to deal with the problem.

Happy gardening!


    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 9:59AM
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This is a good idea! The way we supress growth of weeds is to use several layers of newspaper. The area should be cleaned off first, but does not have to be completely free of all growth. We lay the paper and cover it with mulched leaves. We leave it for the winter and in spring put some bagged soil on top and plant.. The leaves gradually decay into the earth and the paper gradually deteriorates.. The square foot method could be used with newspaper or paper toweling as a guideline. EP

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 6:57PM
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ellen_(z5 NY)

I have been gardening all my life while blind. I would say one of the first things is to familiarize yourself with the feel of the most common weeds as opposed to the plants you commonly grow. I use the square foot method in most of my garden. I wouldn't get into covering the soil with anything as I'd be afraid it could hold back the growth of your plants. I just use the 4-foot tomato stakes to draw up my squares and then mark their corners with short metal stakes. Then I lift the wooden stakes, rinse them off and put them away until it's time to stake toms. For weeding, I crawl between the squares. Then I walk around each square and pull up whatever isn't a true plant. I've been doing it so long, I've never mistaken a weed for a plant.
The other thing I do which helps me keep track of where things are located is keep a journal on the computer of what has been planted and where it's located. I grow many types of tomatoes and peppers. As far as the tomatoes go, I grow a number of heirlooms, so make note of exactly how many of each type are in the ground and where they are located. We have a small patio so I use it, the driveway and lawn as landmarks in my journal.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 4:32PM
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Brydges(5 SW Ontario)

Here is a link I just posted in another message. Maybe you can get some good hints there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening without sight

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 4:21PM
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