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

Weeding in the rain

Muddy weeding

Do you weed during rainy days or stay inside where's it's dry? My answer depends on the season. In March, no way am I weeding in rain that freezes my fingers and leaves me shivering. But in April? When it's t-shirt weather and a gentle shower makes dandelions pop out of the soil with a gentle tug? Sure, I'll weed in the rain. Once your pants and shirt are fully soaked, you don't even notice the water (and mud) anymore.

Weed pile

The real conundrum is what to do with all that weedy biomass. I once read a novel that I was thoroughly enjoying...until the author had her heroine weed the garden and stuff the weeds into garbage bags to go out with the trash. I stopped reading in horror. Sure, weeds have troubling seeds and the perennials have roots that will start growing again under the right conditions, but no way am I letting all that organic matter leave the farm.

Lately, I've been dumping weeds in big piles at the ends of perennial rows where a few resprouting weeds won't present a problem. The weed piles rot down into excellent soil that --- with a cardboard layer on top --- is perfect for planting a new tree or bush into. I started one of this past fall's new high-density apple rows that way, and the trees seem to be thriving in the rich ground.

But I'm always looking for new weed solutions. What do you do with your weeds?

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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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The weeds we can eat often get incorporated into our meals, but when I don't have the time or inclination to sort weeds into different containers then they just go on the compost pile.

Most of our weeds are in the chicken-approved lists I can find online, so when we get chickens next year I'm guessing that the weeds will go to supplement the chickens' diets.

Comment by Rae Wed Apr 15 09:04:05 2015
I tend to throw my weeds into the compost pile unless they are prickers. Then they get tossed into our ravine.
Comment by Torina Wed Apr 15 10:18:45 2015

I feed them to my chickens. I've been weeding the herb bed a little every morning, and taking them to the chickens on the way to milk the goats.


Comment by Fern Wed Apr 15 12:19:24 2015

We keep ours in a separate pile next to the good compost pile. Like you said, they rot down quite nicely, and then we know where to get our non-weed-free fill.

This time of year, the chickens don't seem to care for them once they've been pulled, unless there's a bug in the dirt that came with.

Comment by Jake Wed Apr 15 23:35:06 2015
My compost piles are in the chicken yard. My fresh weeds go on top of the oldest pile. The ladies eat what they want then scratch the remainder into the pile adding fresh poo in the process. This saves the work of cleaning up the larger pieces the girls find to tough. I still have a rather large pile of leaves, when I mow grass I dump leaves and grass in the yard. The girls eat, mix, and shred while adding nitrogen rich poo in the process. If I could only get them to put it into the pile. After a week or two I remove the pallet sides so they can tear the pile down looking for high protein treats. I then use this to mulch the freshly weeded garden.
Comment by Tom Thu Apr 16 04:44:04 2015
Weeds that aren't seeding or invasive go in the compost pile. Seeding weeds or invasives go in one of several big piles i have around. That includes stilt grass, honeysuckle, wisteria and creeping charlie.
Comment by Katherine Fri Apr 17 21:02:01 2015

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