Tuesday, April 17, 2012

(DF) GARDEN DAY RAMBLINGS (part 1) ....... what to do about weeds

Ok, it is actually garden weekend ramblings, but you know what I mean. With my new job, my schedule has been 9am to 6pm, five days a week, which has been leaving me with just enough time before dark to take care of the goats and chickens. This leaves me the weekends to catch up on all the necessary everyday maintenance type stuff that there wasn't time for all week. However, middle of last week that changed. My daily shift became 6am to 3pm, which leaves me some time to get things done of the evening........ sure hope this change lasts. My days off vary week to week but who cares, it is time to work at home.

With my new schedule, I managed to get things caught up a bit in preparation for Sunday and Monday off. The Saturday evening storms threatened to change plans but there was still hope. Sure enough, there wasn't anything one could consider a storm here at dave's farm, just a moderate wind and some relatively gentle rain. At this point, I will shift focus a bit to storms nearby, but please bear with me.

As I was saying, there wasn't a storm here, the closest thing being low thunder in the distance. On the other hand, one of my co-workers who lives less than twenty miles away, had a tornado touch down. It destroyed his barn, commercial chicken house, lots of timber and landscape trees and took the roof off his house. I found out today that while I was being grateful that the storms had missed, he was beginning to sort through the devastation. Just shows how strange and erratic the weather can be and gives pause to reflect. Please remember my co-worker in your thoughts and prayers, he needs all the help he can get.

Now, back to my ramblings. Sunday started calm with intermittent light rain and a trip to town to pick up dog food (which I didn't think I was out of until time to feed the little dog, Poopei). The weather cleared while I was gone and I proceeded to dig up the garden, as soon as I got back, to play catch up on planting. I had already planted tomatoes and peppers a couple of days before (though there are still tomatoes and cabbage that aren't quite big enough to transplant) so now it was time to start on the main garden. Grass and weeds had pretty much taken over already, so I would have to take care of that.

When I am working at something, especially when it is quiet and in nature, I tend to let my mind wander a bit ........ alright, more than a bit, and left without proper supervision, it sometimes goes some unusual places. This time, it only turned to thoughts of weeds, and of course, questions. We all know what weeds are, and where to find them, and hopefully some earth friendly ways to deal with them. But, what are weeds REALLY? Obviously, they are things we don't want in our gardens, right? NOT SO FAST WITH THE WEED KILLER!!!!!!

Looking at the "weeds" in my garden, there were a variety of edible plants that I grew up with, some of which Anna mentioned in today's "Tightwad Tuesday" post. In fact there were at least nine of the dozen or more plants I grew up picking as wild greens. Some of these (and a few others growing among them in my garden) also have some medicinal properties. As Anna said, free food and medicine. Doesn't sound like weeds to me, in fact, I took time to harvest some of them before I got under way.

Now, as for the ones that don't count as food or medicine (at least not that I know of) there was the question of what best to do with them. Before I move forward with this, let me say that I DO NOT advocate the use of herbicides, especially in the garden. In my mind, it is like setting booby traps for home defense without knowing who or what will get killed in the process. They kill types of plants, not individual species and it has, so far, been impossible to convince me that they are safe for the environment. I must be careful with this subject so I don't get on my soap box and over react. Sorry! seems I already got on the soap box.

At any rate, as my thoughts wandered on this subject, it occurred to me that there is no real problem with weeds in the garden and that they actually belong there. The problem is that no body wants them actually GROWING in the garden. If they are not growing, this means they are dead and dead weeds make compost. Compost is a good thing in the garden and since different plants incorporate different nutrients from the soil, what better way to get rid of them than to dig them back into the garden.

Some grasses are not so easy (in my garden, it is Johnson grass). Johnson grass spreads from the roots as well as seed. The roots are segmented and each segment will grow an new plant. Anything that breaks up the roots will spread the grass and soon it can look more like a hay meadow. More tilling means more spreading and this is where many people reach for the poison, and continue with the roto-tiller. I will try not to say too much against garden machines in this post as it deserves a full post of its own (likely a second part of this post so stay tuned). Point being that there are other ways to deal with this nuisance. The best way I have found, is to work the ground with hand tools and pull out every root you find. Each new shoot that sticks its head up can be easily pulled or cut with a hoe (which is the equivalent of grazing, which this grass does not tolerate well). The blades themselves can be dug into the soil or used as mulch with no problem. Soon it is under control.

Bermuda grass is another story, as the grass itself will take root if in contact with moist soil, even after it looks dead. In other words, if you dig it into the soil, you have spread it, so the only way to remove it without poison, is to dig it up and remove it from the garden completely.

I know it sounds like I was doing more thinking than working, but in the midst of it all, on Sunday afternoon and Monday, I did get quite a few onions planted as well as some cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans and carrots (Anna got a bit carried away buying onion sets and plants, but if they do well, we will have plenty of onions this winter).

Sorry about the lack of pictures, but if my camera will work (if the batteries are strong enough and I can remember to use it, that is) I will try to post a few with part 2, where I will be talking about machine age farming and such. Hope to see you there.


  1. Isn't a garden a place to let your mind go? groceries here has become nuts in price since the petro prices have risen.I look forward to the garden to taste things how they should taste, with flavour. Having cheaper meals is just the added bonus.

  2. Yes, gardening is a wonderful place to let the mind wander, almost meditative in fact. Groceries here have become pricey as well and it finding items sold out has become more frequent. Makes me wonder how long before food becomes really hard to purchase. High quality is already getting hard to find. My thought is that soon, if we don't grow it, we won't be eating it, and if I am wrong, at least those who are growing it won't be out the money and will have better quality for it.


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