2 organic DIY ways to beat weeds this spring
If weeds are springing up all over your freshly tended beds, there are a couple of easy, spray-free ways to beat them back.
One of the most important weed management techniques in commercial growing and also simple to do in your home garden is the false seedbed technique.
This involves cultivating a seedbed as if for planting, allowing a flush of weeds to occur, and if necessary even irrigating to bring them on.
Young weed plant are easily controlled by light hoeing. You want to avoid disturbing the soil to trigger deeper weed seeds. Repeat the water and hoeing a couple of times if the weed burden is high.
You can then be sown or transplanted and enjoy a relatively weed-free establishment. For a fast growing crop like spinach or Asian brassicas, there may even be no further requirement for weeding before harvest.
Now is the perfect time to try it. If you do it too early in spring, later germinating weeds like fathen may pose a problem when the new crop is sown.
A word of warning: the false seedbed technique does not work well for grass and perennial weeds – try to manage these before putting an area into crop.
THE STALE SEEDBED TECHNIQUE
A variation on the false seedbed is the stale seedbed which can be used for carrots and other slow germinating crops.
The idea is to create the final seedbed, sow the crop and then just a few days before the crop emerges, control the faster emerging weeds with a flame weeder.
The trick is to know when the crop is going to emerge as the number of days to emergence will differ according to the season and soil temperature etc. The answer is to place a pane of glass over a small part of the sown area which will accelerate weed seedling emergence. When you see weeds emerging under glass, you know that the main crop emergence will be occurring soon. You can then carry out the flame weeding on the main area before they do so.
For small gardens, a handheld propane canister can be used for flame weeding. On a larger scale, organic growers tend to use specially-designed flame weeders that run on the back of a tractor or by backpack.
Source: Biological Husbandry Unit, www.bhu.org.nz
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