Watching weeds grow …. not

I got bored just watching the weeds and cucumbers grow, so I did a few other things at the farm yesterday. I harvested shallots, forty pounds of tomatoes, twenty pounds of green beans, pulled weeds and used the BCS to wipe out weeds that thrive in the tractor wheel tracks. And I ate all cherry tomatoes that were ready for harvest, about a dozen. They’ve just started to come in. A day or two of sun and I think we’ll be swimming in sun gold cherry tomatoes! Until then, Liz and I will be conducting regular taste tests. (Liz has posted a lovely photo of the cherry toms on her blog.)

We saw a bit of damage from last week’s downpour. We lost parts of recently transplanted crops (red cabbage, Swiss chard, parsley) when they apparently drown or washed away. The pepper plants were knocked over by the force of the rain. The plants are still rooted and growing, but some of the young peppers are now exposed directly to the sun and will be scalded by it. Our early planting of tomatoes has a pretty advanced case of septoria leaf spot and the rain and overcast skies have exacerbated it. None of this damage will have a major impact on the harvests. It’s just a little disheartening. I pretty sure the cherry tomatoes will cheer me up.

A good day to weed

We’ve had some much needed rain, 2 inches according to the rain gauge on the farm, so the field will be too wet to work in much today. We should be able to hand weed the carrots, cilantro and dill today. A couple of weeks ago I used a flame weeder to kill weeds that had germinated in the carrot, cilantro and dill rows. I flamed the weeds just as the carrot and herb seeds were starting to germinate, so the carrots and herbs were still under soil and safe from the flame. There are new weeds growing in the rows, and the best way to deal with them now is to pull them. It’s delicate and time consuming work, best done when the soil has moisture in it.

How does he do it? The Tiny Farm Blog guy is amazing. I mean, there’s a post and a picture just about EVERY DAY! Interesting posts, nice photos. I’ve been keeping his blog a secret from you because …. well, I thought you might start getting ideas that I should write about the farm and take photos everyday. That probably won’t happen this year! Here’s a better idea: read his blog and you’ll have a pretty good notion of what was happening in Belmont two weeks ago – except for the fire and the chickens, of course.

Hoeing

Last week we began thinking about weeds. When we disturb the soil in the beds we see the white thread-like roots of pigweed and galen soga. They are just the tiniest little things right now. Easy to miss if you’re not looking for them.

If we don’t take care of them now, they won’t be so easy to miss in a few weeks. Nor will they be so easy to kill. Very shallow hoeing, and hoeing that ‘fluffs’ the soil on the surface, should do the trick. Shallow hoeing kills the newly germinated weeds and stirs up the weed seed in the top 1/2″ of soil. “Fluffing” the soil should make it harder for the next bunch of weed seeds to germinate. Theory is that with enough shallow hoeing the weed pressure will be greatly reduced, maybe the weeds will disappear altogether. (Did I mention the theory also says it could take a couple of decades to deplete the weed seed bank?)

I’ve been told that shallow hoeing also helps preserve soil moisture by interfering with the capillary action of the soil. Tower, Smith, Turton and Cope explain it a bit in their 1920 text, Physics: http://tiny.cc/fRwdx