There aren’t many things I seriously dislike. But weeds. I hate weeds. These insidious little creatures that start off looking benign enough. Manageable even. Then overnight they ravage the landscape coming up like some evil forest from a dark and creepy fairytale. Every year ends with pledges that we will be more prepared. Take preventitive measures to offensively tackle the weed problem. So far it hasn’t happened. We were so focused on irrigation, we didn’t even think about the weeds.
But all is not lost. It will just take a bit of work.
After a couple busy weekends, and some welcome rain in the late spring/early summer, I had such a forest of invasive weeds in my garden. My husband offered to help. But then he couldn’t distinguish the weeds from the plants. We thought the drip irrigation we put in would assist by not watering the walkways, only the rows. But it rained. Often enough for these little buggers to take off.
This was going to take more than hand weeding on our knees (mind you the garden is about 3,000 square feet, we may have finished by October with that strategy). We needed to pull out the big guns. And so a trip to the shed, or arsenal as it has been referred to, was in order. My husband always says life is easier when you have the right tools. Last year I purchased a Hoss ‘lil Double Wheel Hoe. Not having had a chance to use it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We put on the oscillating hoes and went to work. I was so amazed I almost cried. A couple trips down the paths and the weeds were dessimated. In a half day I had clear walkways. It comes with an attachment spreader which allows you to choose your width, so you can expand over rows and hoe each side at once. Closer together and you have a great path cutter. Literally, I heard angels singing. I also have the plow attachments, which are great for trenching rows for potatoes and reversed for hilling those potatoe rows during the season. And we have the cultivator teeth. I told my husband between the double wheel hoe and the hand tools I bought, it was clearly the best money I ever spent.
A friend of mine recently asked me if I had ever tried straw mulching. My answer was a definitive yes. Since my early days of growing food on an organic co-op, the straw method has been a tried and true practice. I love it for so many reasons. It keeps moisture in and for the most part weeds out. If a weed does poke through it pulls out easily. If grass comes up form the straw it is usually growing from the straw and not the ground. Again, making it easy to pull out. We used to first lay newspaper (soy ink based, not full color inserts) down as a first layer. Here where it dries out quickly, that hasn’t worked so well. Each year I tell myself I will mulch early. But alas, I was not prepared and suffered the inevitable takeover of weeds.
So now that the rows are significantly less weedy, and my paths are mostly mulched in straw, I can focus on the care and harvest of what is really important. My plants and vegetables. And it’s only July!