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Summer weeds

Permanent raised beds with mown aisles

I like to pretend that our garden looks like the image above --- well-weeded beds separated by carefully mown aisles.  But at this time of year, a lot of it actually looks like this picture:

Weedy garden

Yes, our garden is full of weeds.  We're slowly developing a mulching technique, but this year is a bit of an experimental year, so we haven't mulched nearly as much as I would have liked.  Instead, I weed the garden constantly, rotating through so that each area is weeded at least once a month.

Or at least that's the plan, which I manage to achieve in the spring.  By the height of summer, though, my rotation extends out to nearly two months, which is how long it's been since the portion of the garden in the second photo was weeded.  Luckily, our vegetables have grown tall in that span of time, so they don't seem to have been stunted by their weedy neighbors.
Sweet corn nearly ready to eat
I've been reading Corn Among the Indians of the Upper Missouri (which may become a lunchtime series if I ever get my act together), and at first I was stunned by the traditional cultivation method the Native Americans employed --- plant and weed like mad until the entire garden has been weeded twice.  Then go off to hunt buffalo for the rest of the summer, returning just in time to harvest your corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers.  But the truth is that if you weed carefully when your vegetables are in the seedling stage, most veggies can quickly outstrip the weeds and form a leaf canopy that excludes competitors.  Sure, we might get a slightly higher yield if I weeded more obsessively, but there are only so many hours in the day.

The primary point of this post is --- don't feel bad if your garden is weedy!  We've passed the point of no return (July 4), so the worst that weeds can do to your garden now is seed a new crop of weeds for next year.  If you do your best to pull the weeds out before they fruit, I think it's quite all right to focus on the harvest.

Install a homemade chicken waterer and leave your chickens alone without a worry while you go hunt buffalo...or go on vacation.


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