The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Weeding disaster

May Day garden

This is the time of year when the weeds sometimes begin to feel overwhelming. It suddenly began to rain at the same time I started turning my energy to summer planting...and the result was an explosion of green in all the wrong places.

Young onions

The photo above shows normal weeding pressure around here. I set out these onions five weeks ago, and they could definitely use a weed and mulch. But they'll be okay for another week or two until I get around to them. (Fertility source: chicken bedding.)

Weeding disaster

This carrot bed, on the other hand, is what I think of as a weeding disaster. My homegrown compost was a little weedier than I would have liked this year, but it didn't cause much trouble elsewhere. Amid the slow-growing carrots, though, the weeds are terrible.

Some people would just give up on the crop, but I'll relentlessly handweed for a few hours until it's back into shape. After all, there's no way to go back in time and replant the spring carrots if I throw in the towel now. Still, next year I'll try to be smarter and plant my carrots in completely weed-free ground. Maybe Fortier's occultation would be a good trick to try for these very slow-growers.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Oh boy right with your there.! Lots of rain this past weekend and the forecast does not look good for this week. The weeds however are loving this. I might find my plants by the weekend. Still way better than ever using herbicides.!!!
This time of the year, weeding can be a stress reliever for me because I know great plants are hidden in those weeds. But it gets real old in the heat of the summer though.

Comment by Donna Stroud Tue May 3 09:28:59 2016

Whatever beds I plant I always put a much of straw about 2-4 inches thick on top of them, especially carrots. Carrots, being slow germinates, benefit from the mulch that keeps the (expletive deleted) weeds down and since I have lots of problems with pin cherry seeds getting into the bed, I occasionally have to go through and pull those (expletive deleted) out of the bed by hand since they root quickly and those roots tend to go down to China.

Can you tell that weeds and pin cherry seedlings are the bane of my existence? :)

Comment by NaYan Tue May 3 09:46:51 2016

Well, I'm a practical man living on a farm with huge gardens on the edges of corn fields. So, I don't have the magazine-picture perfect scenes to show. I don't have the time to hand weed, either.

I have discovered over the years that carrots don't mind being mowed off. Weeds hate it. So I just let carrots, weeds and all have a field day. I keep the lanes clean with either a tiller or mulch. After the carrots get really well established but before they are just totally buried by the weeds, I mow the whole works off about 4 inches high. A scythe or sickle would work as well. Result? The carrots respond in spades, the weeds cough and choke out. I've done up to 3 mowings per season and still have great carrots in the fall.

Your mileage may vary....


Comment by Tim Inman Tue May 3 10:02:18 2016

I've been following this guy's blog for quite a while. Very interesting guy! Last year I used tarps under my tomatoes and had great success.

Comment by Becky Tue May 3 13:13:44 2016
Carrots take forever to germinate, so prepare the bed, plant the carrots, and then a week later- flame weed the bed. Many of the nasty fast sprouting weeds will perish, the carrot seeds are still underground. And since the soil isn't disturbed again, many fewer weeds.
Comment by Eric in Japan Tue May 3 18:44:57 2016
Those aren't weeds. They're cover crop & green manure. I also once had OCD concerning weeds, but by experience have found that yield differences are not noticeable whether or not the little buggers are removed. Competition for water, light & nutrients is not a factor when there are excesses of each. In fact, a weed cover can shield the ground preventing loss of moisture and actually be a benefit. When the crop plants are taller than the weeds, light availability is not a problem. If weeds grow taller than the crop, they can easily be pulled out by hand. Of course this doesn't work well for an industrial sized plot, but is adequate for most of us gardeners.
Comment by doc Thu May 5 06:15:00 2016
Great thoughts, everybody! I particularly liked Eric in Japan's solution (and Mark likes it even more because he's been begging for a flame weeder for years....).
Comment by anna Thu May 5 12:23:28 2016

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