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

1 Comment

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