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…!