Posted on

Everywhere I go I find a pal

Everywhere I go  I find a pal Everywhere I go  I find a pal

Peter Weinschenk, Editor, The Record-Review

My no-till gardening experiment with a cover crop is doing well, but not without some major challenges.

Last fall, I planted cereal rye on about a third of my backyard vegetable garden and, in the spring, I crimped down the cover crop so my wife, Susan, could plant zucchini, butternut squash and cucumber seeds into the thatch.

The idea was that the crimped rye roots would loosen and fertilize the soil and the dead thatch would inhibit weeds.

The reality was unexpected and different. The crimped rye righted itself and kept on growing. I repeatedly mowed, weed whacked and hand sheared down the rye. It continued to grow. The living rye messed with the squash plants, inhibiting their development with soil toxins. Some nearby Chinese long beans went yellow and pale.

After I returned from vacation, the tilled portion of our garden was fabulously green and productive while the no-till area was, according to my wife, a “disaster.”

I went to work. I pulled out a couple wheelbarrows full of weeds, snipped back the rye once again and, in a flash of gardening inspiration, laid down about four inches of grass and leaf mulch.

This was a great improvement. The young squash and cucumber plants spread out beautifully over the mulch. It looked like I knew what I was doing.

Over the past week, the no-till garden has hit its stride. The zucchini is galloping across the mulch with green tendrils and familiar orange blossoms. The butternut squash is getting bigger. Even the Chinese long beans have perked up with slender tendrils climbing up a section of woven wire fencing.

My guess is I will be eating zucchini and Chinese long beans later this summer and squash this fall.

I have already started to think about next year. My current thinking is not to use cereal rye as a cover crop, but, instead, use oats or triticale or maybe radish, anything that is not so toxic and aggressive.

My entry into no till gardening has not been without frustrations and surprises, but I continue to learn stuff about the world of plants that you can’t find in a book or on a YouTube video. I appreciate this education.


I had hoped to announce this week that I had completed an archtop guitar “in the white” that was ready for a lacquer finish.

But then a minor disaster happened. The guitar humbucker epoxied to an ebony pickguard fell off in light handling.

I was stunned, frustrated.

My next step will be to either reglue the humbucker to the pickguard using different epoxy or to build a small wooden platform, called a plinth, at the end the guitar neck. The plinth will support the humbucker. The regluing is the easiest fix, but the least trustworthy. The plinth is stable, but it will require a surgeon’s skill to precisely drill 3/32 sized holes for some brass rods at a distance of 20 something inches. The way to do it is to glue a brad point bit into a long brass tube and start drilling from the belly end of the guitar.

It would be nice to know what to do, but, then, that wouldn’t be building a guitar. You always have to find out for yourself after making every possible mistake.

Contact Peter Weinschenk at pweinschenk@