I really enjoyed starting the gardens this year (in March). The weather was cool, Ken had rototilled the plots for me, and I could spend just 15 minutes/day pulling out the grasses that really wanted to grow EVERYWHERE. I wasn't even bothered by fire ants. I don't know where they went, but I didn't see ONE.
By No. 1's wedding (end of May), my turnip patch was full of grasses AND fireants which prevented me from removing the grasses without consequence. The peach trees had fruited by then, but the peaches didn't smell like peaches this year, so I didn't even bother to protect them from the birds.
Heavy rain followed by mosquitoes and HOT, HOT weather seemed to team up to prevent me from making any progress in removing the grasses that insisted on growing everywhere in the gardens. The fire ants seemed to multiply until it seemed like any/every attempt to remove the grasses resulted in 25-30 fire ant bites. Then, I got chicken pox, lip fungus, and 25-30 more fire ant bites just trying to pull stuff back so Em could mow around the beds. I don't call that fun.
Squash borers destroyed the zucchini, summer squash, and spaghetti squash, mealybugs infested the heirloom tomato plants as well as watermelon, cantelope, and cucumber that survived the squash borers. Fungus attacked the green beans, opposums have been eating the melons, and now some kind of wasp is boring holes in the ground where I'd planned on planting fall turnips.
Yesterday afternoon, two tween girls came to our door asking if we needed any help with yard work. They had a lawn mower, they said. I told them that I didn't need mowing, but that I had considerable weeds (actually grasses) to be pulled in my gardens out back. They lasted 40 minutes on slow and sloppy, but gave me the impetus to do some of it myself now that cool weather is back. I lasted fifteen minutes on deep and thorough. Then, last night monsoon rains returned (to stay the week). By the time the gardens stop being slushy, the mosquitoes will be thick and the fire ants EVERYWHERE again.
Certainly can't say I saved any money gardening this year. Soil amendments alone WAY exceeded the cost of vegetables in season. Sense of satisfaction was negligible, as well. Early on I had the glow, but nature just had a way of putting me in my place.
At the beginning of the season, I watched the following video on Square Foot Gardening and thought, "That looks too sterile for me. Stuff isn't even grown in dirt!" Right about now: I can't find ONE fault with a garden that produced lots for the family, didn't require any weeding, and didn't involve insect bites.