Weeds

Trying to stay ahead of the weeds this time of year is a never-ending struggle. I could spend all day every day doing nothing but weeding. Of course if I did that we wouldn’t get anything grown. So I have to allocate time wisely, trying to keep the weeds at bay while accepting the reality that they will eventually win.

For now our sweet potatoes and green beans are relatively weed-free.

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Not so the potatoes.

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Or the chard.

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Or the kale.

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Sometimes I get envious when I see weedless well-mulched gardens. Given the amount we grow, and our one-man workforce, that’s just not possible here. We could use plastic mulch to suppress weeds, but so far we’ve chosen not to do that on this farm. So for now, we’ll just have to live with weeds.

Even with the weeds, this years kale may be the prettiest we’ve ever grown.

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Weeds notwithstanding.

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40 comments on “Weeds

  1. Tom says:

    Thanks for showing what a real garden looks like. If we planted weed seed, would vegies grow the way weed do in veggie?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Susan says:

    That is some gorgeous kale. You’re so far ahead of my garden. But, that doesn’t stop me from snitching itty bitty leaves off my kale–teehee!!
    Have a great weekend

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Our kale has done great this spring. But this time last year it was history. We’re about to transition to summer veggies and it’s still coming strong!

      Like

  3. avwalters says:

    Your veggies look gorgeous, regardless of the competition. We’re coping with weeds, but the bugs are doing us in.

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    • Bill says:

      We’ve been astonished at how few bugs we’ve had this year. We’re almost ready to harvest our potatoes and we haven’t had any potato bugs. That’s incredible. We have almost no cabbage worms, harlequin bugs, squash bugs, or bean beetles. We do have some Japanese beetles but very manageable. I think our strange weather must have defeated them. Hope you manage to overcome them there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        Lucky you. I’d think that they’d all come here, except that this is pretty normal for Northern Michigan. It’s a short season and everyone (and I mean everyone) has to go full out to survive.

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      • Bill says:

        I spoke too soon, it seems (or I jinxed myself). We’re battling a serious squash bug problem all of a sudden. Oh well. It comes with the territory…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I miss having a garden. Your produce looks delish! ❀
    Diana xo

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  5. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, you have really wide rows. Do you cultivate with your big tractor or a smaller roto tiller? You’d be an awesome farmer here in the Midwest. Farmers here pride themselves on how straight the rows are in the crop they are growing. Yours would definitely pass the test. Of course now days the tractors are guided by GPS so they are perfectly straight without any skill from the farmer. (Big sigh) Another skill that will be lost due to technology taking over..

    Have a great day in the garden.

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    • Bill says:

      When we first started out I laid out rows using string. I tried to make them straight but they often looked like they were laid out by a drunk. Nowadays I use a tractor to shape the beds, so the rows are straight. But as you say, they’re wide because of the tractor so we’re wasting a lot of space. If I was starting now I’d use a lot more raised beds and permanent beds, both to save space and to avoid tilling.

      The technology on the industrial scale tractors is amazing–as is their price tag. The capital expense makes it impossible for a young person to go into commodity crop farming now.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Laurie Graves says:

    There’s a lesson in this somewhere πŸ˜‰

    Like

  7. Joanna says:

    I was wondering about the rows too, but I’m guessing that has more advantages in drier conditions? We use bed systems here usually. I will use rows if it works better that year for some reason and planting in rows does help to show where the weeds are coming up and where the veg is πŸ˜€ We are fortunate in some ways that there is not so much weed competition until now, but that’s because we haven’t had the rain and so I haven’t even finished seed planting either. Only catch crops from now on really. Sigh!

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    • Bill says:

      I use a tractor to shape our beds/rows partly because that’s the way I learned to do it and partly because we need to at our scale. But I’m seriously considering cutting way back next year and going to mostly permanent beds. I’d prefer not to till but I don’t know how to manage two acres of gardens without tilling. So maybe the right move is to have far less land in production. We may just return to a homesteading scale.

      I know the weather has been uncooperative for you this year. We’re in a bit of a drought here too now but probably not as bad as what you’ve been through this year. The challenges of trying to coax food from the ground always leave me awed at what our ancestors managed to do, in life or death situations.

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      • Joanna says:

        Yes there is not the urgency when we know we could go to the supermarket or the stalls at the side of the road (a better option) if we absolutely needed to.

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  8. Since we were out on the road for 10 weeks during prime weed growing season, Bill, you can imagine what our property looked like when we got back. Fortunately, for the most part, the only thing our weeds have to compete with is other weeds. πŸ™‚ –Curt

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  9. shoreacres says:

    I spent the weekend with a gardener friend, and actually did some weed pulling. She’s had a hard year, and everything got ahead of her — significantly. The good news is that they’ve had so much rain in the Texas hill country, weeds pull pretty easily. She’s a flower gardener rather than a veggie gardener, so except for her tomatoes, it really doesn’t make much difference. But she still takes weeds as a personal affront, so it was good to be able to help her make some progress.

    Like

    • shoreacres says:

      By the way — if you don’t already know about it, here’s something that I’m sure you’ll be interested in.

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      • Bill says:

        I’ve read several pieces about this film but this is the first time I read that Wendell Berry agreed to it on the condition that he not appear in it. I’m looking forward to seeing it. It is wonderful to see Mr. Berry now getting the attention he deserves. But I wonder if he isn’t too often seen nostalgically, rather than as a prophetic voice of the future. That deserves a blog post of its own! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      We’re of a like mind, your friend and I. I take weeds as a personal affront too. But I know I can only delay their ultimate victory. As Rhett Butler put it in an entirely different context, “I’ve always had a weakness for lost causes.”
      πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. Buffy says:

    Thanks for showing a real garden Bill! My potatoes looked much like yours last week when I pulled them and I’m a little scared to go in after the onions! We have had a dry week so I have made a little headway on the weeds this week.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Our onions look a lot like our potatoes. As bad as the weeds are in the potato garden this year, there have been years when they were worse. I used to have to put a little flag at the end of the row so I’d know where the potatoes were when digging time came! We usually dig ours around July 4, so the weeds still have a couple of more weeks to grow.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m thinking that the kale like your “companion planting”… (Even if you don’t; )

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  12. One word for how not to till?
    Interplanting…
    If you get your rows closer together you’d only need 1/2 the space; )

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    • Bill says:

      Yes, but then I wouldn’t be able to use the tractor to lay out the rows and shape the beds. Having to keep room for the tractor tires causes a lot of growing space to be wasted.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. barnraised says:

    Weeds or no weeds, everything looks SO beautiful!

    Like

  14. Looking good you guys! Weeds or no, that is an incredible amount of work.

    I’ve cut my gardens down to homestead size by cutting them in half. Half goes to cover crop and working on the weed seed bank of future weeds for the next year with a small fallow in the summer. I still use my tractor and tiller for spacing but put 2 or 3 rows per tiller width. Still some hand cultivating or weeding but just as productive and easier to care for in my advancing age. Next year the cover cropped portions will be the gardens and I’ll do the cover cropping/weeding sequence in what was garden this year. So far so good, I’ve still got weeds, but not near the stress.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I’m all for less stress, and I’m working on how to make that happen here. I really enjoyed your long post earlier this year about how you were going to do your gardens this year. It’s been interesting to see that a number of the folks I regularly read are scaling back rather than ramping up. By the time I decided to cut back I’d already laid out all the gardens and established a plan, so I went forward but telling myself not to fret if I didn’t have time to tend them all. So I’ve been working just as many hours as ever and having trouble keeping up. But next year I’m seriously considering cutting WAY back. We’re going to get a 30×72 hoop house this fall, and I may just rely on that for most of our vegetable production next year. Lately we’ve been taking way more product to the market than we can sell. I think it’s time to revert to homesteading, which was our initial plan anyway!

      Originally I only had 3 gardens for rotation–one for legumes, one for the other veggies and one to lay fallow. Now we’re up to 18.

      I’ve tried making 2 or 3 rows from a bed, but I haven’t liked the results. I’ve used the rototiller to flatten the beds made by the bedder, then lay out rows in the bed, but I find it difficult to weed between the rows. And of course I can’t lay the rows out straight. πŸ™‚ If we go to hoop house/raised bed production then I hope to eventually quit using the tractor for tilling.

      We’ll see….

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Dearest Bill,
    Knowing too well that feeling! Things look almost pristine when planted at first… Glad you at least got that perfect photo before those weeds take over!
    Pieter finished patching up the lawn where we had azaleas before but the ugly Rattlesnake weed took over. Best thing to do is digging it all up and sowing a mix of centipede grass with other grass. The non-centipede grew but that is getting rather tall and difficult to mow and also to keep alive in the heat so finally the solution was to put centipede grass sods in.
    By using the hoe to get rid of everything, Pieter learned that those weed grasses had big socks with roots that went way down. WHY is it that weeds always manage to look so strong and healthy?!
    Hard work and lots of sweat…
    Sending you hugs and don’t you agree that the shower is the best invention ever?!
    Mariette

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    • Bill says:

      Yes we should enjoy how orderly those gardens are when first planted, because the day soon arrives when they are a wild unruly mess! Some of the weeds are tenacious. They refuse to concede. I can only hope to delay their ultimate victory. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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