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Extreme makeover

Weeding mesclun

The one dark secret of this organic field, something you couldn’t really tell from selected photos, is the prevalence of pigweed (amaranth, mostly or all Amaranthus retroflexus). About two-thirds of the garden seems to be completely saturated with pigweed seed. Weeding two or three times for all-new outbreaks is common. In some spots, it’s literally as if some kind soul is broadcasting new seed, thickly, every couple of weeks. And when it’s a closely space crop like the all-lettuce mesclun mix in the pic, this means painstaking fingertip weeding. Here, Andrea and I spent about two and half hours clearing 200′ of 5-row beds, the entire latest succession planting. Luckily, conversation made the time transparent (thinking about all of the extra labor devoted just to de-pigweeding is a little painful). As best as I can figure, the pigweed came along with the two-year-old, not-fully-composted cow manure that we spread in the fall of Year 2 (three years ago). We put down around 100 tons on just over an acre—the ground was positively springy!—which was great. Except for the pigweed seed. Eventually, the vast store will be depleted (the seed is viable for five years). Until then, it’s a lot of extra work… The question I’d now ask: “What has that cow been eating?!”


One Comment

  1. I have a similar problem with Purslane. Trouble is that it is so fleshy that it can’t just be left lying on the ground to die — it easily survives long enough to reroot. When my Dad was visiting he started raving about “how wonderful it is in salads”, “how healthy it is to eat”, etc. Me, I think it tastes a lot like leaves… Needless to say he was “strongly encouraged” to harvest lots and lots of Purslane :-)

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