The Battle of the Weeds

on June 18, 2014
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If you are a new gardener or an experienced one, you’re aware of the great battle of the grass and weeds vs. you. We are enlarging and reclaiming some of our garden which we haven’t used in a couple of years. I know we should have planted it in buckwheat, and we did some of it, but with being gone from the farm most of a year and a half, we just had to prioritize. The garden plot was dropped. Now, the war is on. You know from earlier posts we have mulched a part of the garden with 2-3″ of yard materials: leaves, grass, pine straw. This section is doing really well. However, the rest of the garden, actually the majority of it, is our battle field.

Mulch in Garden
Top of the mulched section            
I have decided to not pursue the grass with all out force. Instead, I have decided to focus on weeds.  We have five main weed types that we are pursuing eradication of: morning glory, thistle (of some kind), balloon plant (also called Love Puff – ain’t nothing to love about it), carpetweed and red sorrel – mostly these five.  Since we are use organic farming practices, my current method of weeding is my two hands and a hoe. My husband put a nice sharp edge on all three edges of my hoe. I read about sharpening the three edges in an article by an Amish farmer. I must say, with a hand slap to the forehead, “I should have thought of that!”  You would not believe the “edge” it gives you in hoeing (pun intended) when the sides of your hoe are sharpened too. This fall/winter I will put the chickens into the garden to bat clean-up and this will help with the eradication and refertilization.
Buckwheat blooming
The other thing we are doing is cover cropping with buckwheat. We are in the Deep South and so we have a nice long growing season. This leaves us with lots of room for trial and error.  We can replant or redo something we tried and failed at with usual success due to the long season. We lost our first tomato planting due to the heavy spring rains, but we were able to replant and all is well. This also gives the grass and weeds a long time to regroup and try a new frontal attack. The buckwheat is up and blooming now so we will till it all under and replant, thicker this time. The first round was not as dense as it needed to be to kill most of the grass and weeds. We have had success with this in the past so will continue with this phase of the battle plan.
Our 3 year goal for the garden is to have the whole thing mulched, have permanent walk-ways so we can avoid soil compaction, and have the space doubled by planting the new plot in buckwheat next spring. This will give us two years of cover cropping with buckwheat to kill grass, weeds, and to enrich the soil. Ambitious, I know, but achievable; with my husband’s muscles and some good equipment.
So for now, I walk the potatoes, sweet potatoes (before they got big enough to choke things out themselves) okra, beans, peas, all squashes, watermelons,…you get the idea, and pull or hoe up the weeds before they can go to seed. I have conceded the battle to the grass this year. I do hoe at  it, but it is not my main target. Next year I will will focus on it, but for now I am happy to report we are winning the battle with the weeds! Fewer and fewer are emerging and not one has been able to slip past the blooming stage and put out seeds! Yay! Only a gardener can understand the joy and excitement in that.
What are your strategies with weeds and grass? How about your goals? I look forward to hearing from you by comment or email.
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack
Our Dog Pack
mulch in the garden
Volunteer Okra in Zinnias


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  • Pam

    We don’t own a tiller and I have heard that tilling is not so beneficial for the structure of the soil. If ground were planted in buckwheat, is there another way to make it available to the soil without tilling? I enjoyed your post.

    May 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Pam, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. We don’t till any more either. When you cut the buckwheat, you can do a couple of things to help make it available to the soil. We place a layer of mulch over it and allow it to decompose this way. You could use a shovel and lightly turn the soil onto the top of the buckwheat and let it decompose this way. I hope this helps. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

      May 21, 2016 at 11:20 am Reply
  • Kelli

    I’ve had to come to the realization that weeds are going to be part of my garden and food production for the rest of my life. It’s all good, though. Great post!

    July 8, 2016 at 10:05 am Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Thanks, Kelli, Since we started deep mulch gardening they’re not a problem for us any more. At least not much 😉 LOL

      July 8, 2016 at 12:44 pm Reply
  • Billie

    I’m loving your site! Props to you on your weed control! Our garden is as clean as it’s ever been and I’m proud as a peacock when someone wants to take a walk out to it…but we do use a tiller…a lot. I’m sure there’s benefit for soil structure but right now after the rains last year we would be grassed over but for it. Any way, love that you have a plan, and thank you for sparking an interest in me a different way to sustainably garden!

    July 17, 2016 at 1:57 pm Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Thank you so much for your kind words! The longer we deep mulch, the better it gets. Even after a lifetime of farming, I’m always learning. Great for you that you’re willing to continue to grow and learn. We’re so glad to know you’re a part of TFL Community. Remember, we’re here to help in any way.

      July 18, 2016 at 6:03 am Reply
  • Cynthia

    Hi Rhonda, I love the gardening tips, and the posts here reflect what I did outside just today. The weeds are sprouting well, so pulling them and gathering into a big plastic tub is what I did…as well as add the last of the Plumeria leaves that fell after the rains we had about 12 days ago. The soil is still damp but not waterlogged; as I pulled up the weedlets, instead of shaking off the soil clinging to the rootlets, I plunked the whole thing into the bucket (about 15-20 gal. size). Once full, the contents went onto a bed I am preparing for some Lilacs! The first plants have arrived at the neighborhood Nurseries, so soon it will be time to choose which 2 shrubs to bring home. I’ve been doing some selective pruning and spraying with Neem Oil for the Roses, Citrus (Naval Oranges) and Hibiscus. Our Camellias are in bloom – and I am very grateful that although our ‘Seasons’ are less intense than elsewhere, there is always something to discover and tend in the garden. It’s my favorite place to be. [We are in zone 9b]

    January 31, 2017 at 4:16 am Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing with us. Zone 9b – must be a gardener’s dream! LOL Camellia are one of my favorite bushes along with the Gardenia. Happy gardening.

      January 31, 2017 at 9:31 am Reply
      • Cynthia

        Yes, we are blessed with a climate that supports many Tropicals, like Gardenia (which I believe is a type of Jasmine), Duc D’Orleans Jasmine, Cestrum nocturnum (the ‘true’ Night Blooming Jasmine). We spend our days either watering, pulling weeds, or cutting back rampant growth, lol!

        January 31, 2017 at 9:44 pm Reply

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