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

Weeding priorities

GardenI generally start out the weeding year by working my way regularly through quadrant after quadrant, then cycling back around to the beginning once I'm done.  But the day inevitably comes when I get a bit behind and have to break ranks to weed the beds that really need it first.  Which begs the question --- who needs it the most?

Weedy onions

Small seedlings and slow growers can be quickly overwhelmed by weeds.  Earlier in the season, all of the seedlings were top priorities, but summer crops like beans, corn, and cucurbits aren't in much danger from a few weeds even when they're barely sprouted.  Instead, my biggest concern this week are middle-aged carrots and onions --- both have been in the ground for months now, but their leaves don't cast much shade and the plants don't bulk up fast, so a few weeds can wipe them out quickly.  This bed of onions definitely should have been weeded a week ago.

Weedy corn

Next on the list is those hardy summer seedlings.  Sure, they won't melt away if I let the weeds overwhelm them, but they will get stunted, and I'm always itching for the first beans and tomatoes.  While I'm weeding between the plants, I also go ahead and do any thinning if I've put the seeds too close together.

Cabbage and broccoli

I won't get to it this week, but the beds I'll be aiming to weed next week contain plants currently in their prime like peas, cabbage, and broccoli.  These guys are growing so vigorously that they shade out most of the weeds under their canopy, but it never hurts to keep the competition down.

Weedy garlic

Way, way down on my list are mature and overmature crops that will be pulled out in the next couple of weeks, like garlic, potato onions, bolted spring greens, and so forth.  Since I weed each bed heavily after harvest and then immediately add compost and replant, there's not much point in weeding these beds now unless there are huge weeds bothering my vegetables.  Granted, it would be nice to rip out this chickweed and jewelweed before it goes to seed, but I can only do so much.

Of course, if the floodplain ever dried up and we were able to haul in some mulch, the endless cycle of weeding would be reduced by 80%.  Still, I have to admit that I find the act of ripping weeds out of garden beds deeply satisfying, especially when I have strawberry harvest to look forward to for dessert.

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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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