Control Weeds With Variety of Tactics
The summer solstice is on its way with our longest day of the year on June 21 and then the slow slide of the sun down the horizon.
The hills are vibrating the green of the trees and foliage into our brains. The change is such a wonder from the pall of winter.
Our gardens are filling up with our early efforts; greens, onions, lettuce, peas, zucchinis are in flower. Now we are trying to control the green of the invader: weeds.
On Bluebird Farm, our biggest problem is a weed that locally is called false buckwheat. It grows quickly, as much as 2 inches a day, and the leaves spread out and cover our seedlings quickly. If you pull it and break off the top and don’t get the root, it comes on even stronger. If you pull it and leave it on the ground, it will reroot itself and take off again. Quite a pest. It starts to flower at 2 inches and produces lots of seeds. One of the solutions is to plow the seeds 9 inches under the ground into the anaerobic area so it can’t germinate.
One of our solution to this problem is to use real buckwheat as a cover crop on beds we are going to use for fall and winter crops. For spring crops, we use winter rye, which has an allelopathic quality that stops small seeds from sprouting. We plant this in the fall.
Our other solutions are cultivation, cultivation, cultivation. It takes about three cultivations to take care of this invader. After we prepare our beds, we run a rotary hoe over the bed a day before planting. You can do the same thing with a rake. After that, we plant. Our plantings in the beds are about 9 inches apart, enough room to get a small rake or a hoe between the rows. This is done three to five days after planting. In another five days, we do a crawl and cultivate with hand tools. One of my favorites is an old worn hoe with the handle cut off to 10 inches. We pull a little soil against the plant base and pull the big ones. After that, this weed is controlled by the hoe, hoe, hoe.
Timing is always important in cultivations. If you can see green, you are usually too late. We try to use a scheduled approach to our weed problems. We recommend — and hope — you do, too.
Don’t forget to support your local farmers’ markets. Come let us share the bounty with you and yours. The Wheeling market is 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at St Michael’s parish hall parking lot. See you there.
Mick Luber is an organic farmer at Bluebird Farm in Cadiz. He has more than 30 years of organic farming experience and is a regular at the Wheeling farmers’ markets.