Gardening Can Take a Lifetime To Master, Though Arguably We Never Truly Master It. Whether We Grow in Soil or Other Substrate, Grow Veg or Decorative Crops or Garden In The Summer Months or All Year, It Doesn’t Matter. There’s a Lot to Understand. But We Can Learn From Professional Growers & Researchers & In This Article I Will Provide Answers Gained From My Decades of Commercial Growing.
In this article I’m going to provide brief tips on a host of topics. I’ll start with just a few and add more over the months.
If you’ve a question I can address here please add it to the comments below.
Q1. We know that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place. But how can we control these plants that have grown in the wrong place?
A1. Hoeing is a great way to destroy annual weeds. But you need to do it correctly. If you use a hoe in wet conditions the weed just gets dragged through the soil and soon roots again.
If you hoe annual weeds with a sharp hoe, on a dry hot day, the weed gets cut off at or just below soil level and will soon die in the sun.
Always try to hoe at or just below soil level. If you go too deep the hoe passes under the plants roots and the plant can soon re-establish. The aim is to decapitate the weed!
Don’t worry about removing the left over weeds. If they have been severed at about soil level they will soon wither in the sun and in no time be incorporated into the soil where it’s nutrients will be recycled.
How when weeds are small. That way it’s easier to sever them from their roots and there’s much less to wither in the sun. Large weeds are hard to sever and get dragged along by the hoe, often damaging the plants you want to preserve.
Q2. Will hoeing damage my crops?
A2. If you hoe too deeply it’s very likley that the roots of your crops will get damaged. But if you run the hoe through the surface layers the damage will be minimal. Few of your crops’ roots will be harmed.
In the end it’s a balance. Do we want to risk slight risk to the crop against possible swamping of the crop by weeds? I’d go for shallow hoeing as early as possible every time.
In fact there are benefits to hoeing. It breaks up any surface pans (crusts) that heavy rain etc may have caused. And if we do that then it allows air into the soil and that certainly adds crop plant growth. After very heavy rain, if the soil was capped, and the surface had dried, I’d often hoe commercial crops even if there were no weeds. The surge in growth was very noticeable once the soil could breathe again.
Q3. Will hoeing damage the intricate soil microfauna and soil porosity?
A3. It’s essential that we do all we can to maintain the intricate network of fungi and bacteria in the soil. Any soil disturbance has the potential to cause damage. It’s one of the reasons why I suggest we hoe as shallow as possible. The deeper we disturb the soil the more damage is done to the soil microfauna. They, and a good soil structure, are vital if we want healthy plants growing in a healthy soil.
So we need to hoe as shallow as possible. That way the soil soon repairs and soil life thrives. It’s why I strongly advocate No Dig. Capping is less likely, weeds are fewer and hoeing unnecessary and the compost added feeds the soil microfauna, which contribute to plant health and growth.
Q4. Does No Dig need weeding?
A4. The great thing about No Dig is that there are fewer weeds. This is partly because by adding a fresh layer of compost each year we have a surface with few weed seeds in it … assuming the compost was properly made of course. And because we don’t dig into the soil we aren’t bringing to the surface thise seeds that are still viable but deeply buried.
But you’ll still get a few weeds. Some for example will blow in on the wind. The easiest way to remove these weeds isn’t hoeing. It’s to remove the by hand. Just hold the seedling between finger and thumb and pull. It doesn’t take long to weed a whole bed because there aren’t many weeds.
Remember, if we destroy weeds before they flower they don’t produce seeds to plague us in future years.
Q5. If we kill all the weeds won’t wildlife suffer?
A5. Weeding is about balance. If we want to grow 5 kg of carrots we can grow them amongst loads and weeds and need a large area to grow them in. Or we can grow them in a small weed free area, have less work, better crops and an area where we can forget crops and let weeds thrive. Of course if we want them there they aren’t weeds any longer. But wildlife will love them just the same.
More Gardening Tips & Hints
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