Wednesday, June 4, 2014

weeding frenzy

Hoe, hill, flame, till... There's more than one way to kill a weed.

June is here, and weeding has been the name of the game this week. Although I don't use herbicides (despite not being allowed to use the highly regulated "o" word--you know, the one that ends with "-rganic"), I give myself full creative license to decimate weeds in almost any other way I like. This week, I opted for all of them.

On Tuesday, I appreciated the fact that my farm is only 2/3 acre when I rid the entire place of every last thistle with the help of my trusty stirrup hoe. Who needs a double-edged sword when they can have a double-edged hoe? The thistles fell to their knees and wept.

weeping thistle
On Wednesday, I fell back on one of the more subtle tools at my disposal. I refitted my new favorite tool, the wheel hoe, with the hilling attachment and pushed some dirt around in the tomatillo beds. In addition to providing extra support for the rangy tomatillos (which I don't want to have to trellis), the soil covered a lot of tiny annual weeds still in their "thread stage." Thread stage is when the weed seed has sprouted but still only has one tiny root. With its energy reserves depleted, it's a perfect time to cover it with soil and cut off its access to the sun. Nighty night, wild radish thingies!

Have I mentioned how much I like the Valley Oak wheel hoe?
Next, I tilled the paths with the help of Headwaters' mighty rototiller. The term "walk-behind tractor" is very apt in this case; this diesel monster and I wrestled for control the entire time, but together we evened out the rough patches in my tomato beds and sent a lot of weeds to the other side at the same time.

the Beast known as BCS
I have to be careful about tilling the areas where there is a lot of thistle, because it can actually help thistle thrive. Since Canadian Thistle has rhizomes, it can resprout from its roots, and chopping the roots up (as monster tractors tend to do) only means more roots to sprout thistle from. In this case, I went for it because the ground needed breaking up after our muddy tomato planting day. But in the future, I will probably use the stirrup hoe to tackle thistle.

Finally, one of my favorite weeding tools came into play at the end of the day. The flame weeder is probably the most satisfying weeding tool of them all, because it's so easy to use, it smells like roasting greens, and come on, who doesn't love burning things up?

All in all, it was a bad week for weeds, which means it was a good week for Full Cellar Farm. Now I'd better get ready for round two!

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