The Great Weed Mow-down

Spent only about an hour harvesting for market today–there’s not a lot ready in the gardens, though there is a lot in the gardens.  The rest of my morning (which started at about 6:30) was spent doing all kinds of projects to manage the health of what’s there.

As this is my research and development year (or as I like to call it, my sabbatical), I’m more focused on long-term management and learning new techniques. I’ve already been to a couple conferences this year, and there’ll be a couple more events this month–Yankton organic field days and the DRA Local Foods Summit.  I’m doing presentations at both, and I hope to makes lots of new contacts.

I also picked up Steve Solomon’s Gardening When It Counts and am reading through it slowly and carefully, gleaning what bits make sense for my operation. I don’t agree with everything in there, but I am leaning more toward Solomon’s extensive rather than Jeavon’s intensive growing schemes. I recommend picking it up if you are a small-scale market grower, or a large-scale home gardener.

Solomon’s dry gardening techniques make a lot of sense particularly in my squash and melon garden (the “hilltop garden”) because I don’t have a good watering set-up there.  I did manage to get the hose to about half that area this morning, but much of the thing was flood-irrigated more than watered.

Still, the plants look healthy and happy, and besides that one squash bug and clutch of eggs I rubbed out, I haven’t seen any other signs of trouble as yet. A couple of the neck pumpkins are starting to run–it’ll be interesting to see if they can be contained within the borders of that garden when they reach their full size.

After the watering and weeding and fertilizing the chard row I’d harvested for market today, plus another dose of Deep Woods Off (the mosquitoes are AWFUL right now), I started up the brush mower.  It’s actually not technically a brush mower–it’s a heavy-duty string trimmer on wheels–but to call what we do with that thing “trimming” would be a gross understatement.

It was 11 when I started and noon when I ran out of gas (tha tank wasn’t full when I started), my hands and forearms cramping and vibrating from the hour-long assault against the bindweed making its way up through the central garden. I took down the chickling vetch cover crop as well–everything in my path, and fairly scalped the earth to remove the low vines of the flowering bindweed.

I could probably have spent another two hours or so behind the trimmer–the guy who comes to mow is once again quite late in coming, and the entrance to the gardens and area above the north central garden are probably too thick and high at this point for a regular lawnmower to handle.

So, I’ll take my one cooler full of veggies to the market this afternoon and see if I can sell the bulk of them in an hour or so–then it’s back into my impossibly grubby, sweaty, bug-repellent-soaked mowing garb to see what more I can accomplish.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I share your pain re mosquitoes – I am a long way off in the UK but I have been driven indoors by them tonight. I wish I could grow squash – the plants grow but there are never any sizable fruits. Perhaps the climate just isn’t right?
    Love the thought of taking excess crops to a farmers market though – the family are starting to panic about the impending arrival of the beans!!

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on July 3, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    It would seem that if you could grow beans, you could grow squash. But squash especially thrives on heat–I am growing my winter squash on black landscape fabric this year to give the soil that extra few degrees of heat (though I have had decent luck just planting in the soil). Perhaps you could try growing on a heat-absorbing mulch?

    Good luck with your beans! What variety(ies?) are you growing?


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