Two questions: ground cover and kiwi
Hello all, I'm hoping for a bit of advice. Five years ago, my husband and I bought our falling down farmhouse on 5 acres and the next year located, cleared, and fenced a 50' x 80' space in which to start our garden. We've been mostly successful each year with a seemingly inevitable period in August where it looks like more like Southeast Asia than Southeastern Pennsylvania. Having a child has made our efforts at organic gardening even more rewarding, but also more challenging. We simply don't have the time to weed as often as necessary and as a result, we wasted an awful lot of perfectly good produce last year because we simply couldn't get to it - even just to harvest it. This year we've decided to scale back the bulk of what we grow and take care of semi-taming and landscaping a bit of the rest of our property, but I also want to rethink the way we garden our vegetables. I dislike having all the bare soil between the growing beds (or rows previously) and it seems silly to buy that much weed blocking fabric every few years (which we have) and buying mulch is too costly. Paving would be lovely, but also too costly and energy consuming at the moment. So what I'd like to do is cover crop all but the peripheral raised beds in red clover this year and tend it like I would a lawn by pulling the renegade weeds that crop up (criminy why did I have to get all giddy and shake those datura seed pods when I found them the first month we lived there?), then eke out and 'build' semi-raised beds for us to use next year. I was thinking about incorporating creeping thyme or another fragrant herb in parts of the garden as well. Ideally we'd be able to use our little rotary mower to mow between the beds as needed and have far less bare soil eroding and growing weeds, as well as attracting more pollinators. Has anyone done/heard/read about anything like this and can offer any insight? It seems logical, so possibly it's been tried before? My primary goals are to have less exposed soil in my garden, and also make it more attractive since I spend so much time in there - it's much more of a production garden and has been rather utilitarian thus far. Secondly, we are very interested in growing kiwi vines this year in part for the lovely pink/green foliage but also for the fruit. We'are thinking about building or buying an arbor to use at the gate of our chicken yard to trellis the vines (the coop is purple!), but are unsure of what kind or size would work best to support the plants. I'd really love some recommendations. Also any input about average yield per vine would be lovely as would be recommendations on varieties you have tried and their subsequent success/disappointment. I am in zone 6b/7a. Thank you in advance - I am unsure how to tag the kiwi question, so I'm using unusual plants. Is there/can we get a vine or kiwi tag, perhaps?