Thursday, June 5, 2014

Weeds, What Weeds?

The end of the red onion bed, pre-weeding, with long-handled stirrup hoe.
The spring moisture has been magnificent for our plantings, but it has also been good for the weeds. It seems like there are about a hundred-million out there right now. In our organic system we do not use herbicides for management, we also choose not to use plastic mulching. Our primary methods of management include tilling/hoeing, mulching (straw), hand-weeding, cover cropping.

Check out this fascinating info about weeds, from Johnny's Seeds:

"Here are some sobering statistics to ponder, as we enter weeding season on our farms and in our gardens: A Minnesota study found that a square foot of soil, 6" deep, contained between 100 to 3000 viable weed seeds. Many seeds remain viable for decades; jimsonweed has a 90% germination rate after 40 years in the soil, and field bindweed seeds are viable for more than 50 years. All those seeds are just sitting there, in what is known as the "weed seed bank," awaiting favorable conditions that allow them to germinate."

The conditions have been favorable.

We have been hard at work working to stay on top of the weeding. The wet soil, while a blessing for establishing crops, as been a challenge. Last week after 1.82" of rain on Monday, I would hoe only the North half of the garden. With 1.9" to follow on the weekend, some spots on the South end have remained to wet to hoe. When the soil saturated the hoe does not push through it.

My favorite and most used weeding tool - the stirrup hoe. We have a stirrup on our wheel hoe, which is 10", and on our long-handled hoe, which is 5".

The super awesome wheel hoe.
Long-handled stirrup hoe.
They both can work with a back and forth motion and do a ton of work efficiently.

Today I hoed until the rain began, then I threw on my rain suit and hoed some more until I was rained out and feel like I made some good progress! Now I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that the rain stays light and that those weeds don't re-root. One nice thing about the rain is the dandelions come our easier!

Here's a look at my weeding attack on our red onion bed. First, I hit the outside, and any inner spaces that are large enough, with the wheel hoe.

Red onion bed, pre-weeding.
 Then I run the long-handled stirrup hoe through the bed, wherever I can. Pulling back the irrigation lines, when necessary (the hoe will slice right through it).

Then hand-weed and look how pretty! The sunflowers are easier to see now :)

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