Crops among the weeds


Weeded with the wheel hoe and hoop hoe, the onions looked impressively clear just six days ago, but after a few days of heat and moisture, the tiny weeds that were left shot up to the point where it’s time to do it all over again. Pigweed and lamb’s quarters, along with outbreaks of grass, are working to take over. It may look like a lot was missed. but weeding intensity depends on the crop. With onions, weeds tend to cluster close to the stems, so it usually seems easier to work more quickly and come back again, than spend double or triple the initial time, getting painstakingly close all around each plant (that’s how it seems, maybe not!). With the first section of tomatoes (below), things aren’t so advanced on the weed front, but there’s more grass in this area, and it’s still hard to see the crops in the general green haze of unwanted stuff growing. Hopefully, there will be enough grass mulch ready soon so we can extend the coverage between plants, and then onto the paths. This battle against weeds is the big one. All across the garden, both the veggies and what’s growing with them are at different stages, and require different weeding approaches. Typically, if you’re not using herbicides, tractor cultivation is the quickest way to keep the majority of the weed population down by working between rows. Even then, in-row weeding (between the plants) is still a hand job. It’s a LOT of work, and every few days that a section is not handled, the amount of work required increases as the weeds grow bigger and harder to kill. In a smaller market garden like this, with relatively short 50′ (15m) beds, the tractor is not an option; hand tools and methods rule. The idea is not to keep up this battle year in year out, but to progressively work smarter to reduce the load, through better timing and various techniques: mulching is the most obvious one, but there are lots of things to try. It’s not overnight, but things do improve as you go…!


9 thoughts on “Crops among the weeds”

  1. Did you know that lambs quarter is edible, and actually pretty nutritious? I know a farmer down in the state of Illinois that makes good money selling it to up-scale restaurants by the pound.

    Link to nutritional info:

    I knew the above info, but didn’t actually know what the plant looked like until I read your post and decided to Google it.  Darn–I just finished pulling it all OUT of my lettuce bed.

    Wonder if it would sell at my farmers market?

  2. I sooooo relate!!  My garlic has thistles that have shot up several feet and now have flower heads, very very bad!  The in row weeding must be done EARLY and several times, then I can relax a bit. Onions and carrots are the worst.

    Be very careful of using hay. Growing For Market had a front page story about an organic grower who bought hay that killed his crops.  The guy always bought hay from the same place, but a particular load had come from a farmer who used an herbicide deadly to any kind of cultivated crop. The offending farmer did not read the label before using the stuff. As a result, the organic grower applied the hay as a mulch, just like in previous years, only to have his crops start keeling over. It took several days/weeks to figure out what exactly had happened. They had to mad scramble volunteer crews to remove very heavy, rain sodden, stinky hay by hand and cart it away. It was in a 2007 issue, can’t remember what month.

  3. Thank you for all the info you put in your blog; the company I work for has been growing sweet corn for the last 6 or 7 years. We started branching out into other vegetables a few years ago and are learning more and more with every crop.

  4. Me too! Tons of weeds right now. I got a book to identify them all. I pull all mine by hand. A whole field looks pretty impossible. But your crops look great!

  5. Hi guys
    it may seem obnoxious but is there any way i can get some of the pigweed and lambsquarters i want to grow them in a container . i have tried everywhere but of to no avail . i have one plant growing in my yard but i am not sure whther it is pigweed or not.


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