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Perennial weeds and no-till

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  • John Warner
    This is in response to Mary Jo Terry s question about ridding the no-till garden of johnsongrass and bermudagrass [but let s not forget bindweed and nutgrass
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 4, 2004
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      This is in response to Mary Jo Terry's question about ridding the no-till garden of johnsongrass and bermudagrass [but let's not forget bindweed and nutgrass and other difficult perennial weeds].

      I've been practicing no-tillage, permanent mulch growing on raised intensive beds for the past few years and perennial weeds are, indeed, the most difficult obsticle to success. Once they get a good start, it's just about impossible to continue without herbicide. That's why I use RoundUp--it's a tiller in a jug but is far less damaging than tillage and, I think, a very good trade off.

      But I'm preparing for a time, perhaps in the not too distant future, when energy shortages will price both tractor fuel and herbicide out of reach [see www.dieoff.org], and have been doing some experimenting. A 50 foot secton of bed got badly contaminated with nutgrass that unknowingly came in with some tuberoses. Once the stuff gets over 4 inches tall and develops nuts, not even RoundUp gets it. It will burn off the tops but it comes right back from the nuts. I've got that bed fallow now and covered with old carpeting, but even after a couple of months now, the nutgrass has been pushing up against it. But since it's not getting through, I figure time is on my side. [In another nutgrass situation I faced years ago at another location I covered the area with black plastic but the nutgrass just pushed right through it. It may have been thin though--I doubt if the nutgrass would penetrate 6 mil plastic.]

      A related technique I've had success with is using strips of carpet or black plastic across the beds and transplant into a 2 or 3 inch exposed opening between the strips. I transplant almost everything--one reason for it being that it gets the jump on weeds. The carpet strips go over the organic mulch--not a substitute for it. This cuts down hand weeding by 80% or so and it's easy for the transplants to take control of the narrow open strips. Cutting and laying out the strips takes lots of time so it only pays to practice this in seriously weedy situations.

      Then, a good way to clean up almost any kind of weeds in a bed is to closely transplant in a very tall, dense and vigorous crop such as field corn or sunflowers. Careful not to recontaminate the bed before the next planting. Beds mulched with clean organic material will stay very clean. By and large weeds are easily kept in pretty good control in my garden without too much effort.

      Good luck and good wishes, all,

      John Warner
      Madera Whole Systems Agriculture near Fresno, California
      No-tractor market growers since 1996

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Mary Jo Terry
      John Warner That is interesting and I am going to experiment more. We used Round Up last year but this year we haven t. The grass in the veg. garden got so
      Message 2 of 7 , Jul 7, 2004
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        John Warner
        That is interesting and I am going to experiment more. We used Round Up last year but this year we haven't. The grass in the veg. garden got so bad that we had to weed eat it. I think we will weed eat it again a few times real close to prevent at least any reseeding, then go with the carpet and/or black plastic.
        My veg garden is approximately an acre so there may be more plastic, since my husband has had several back surgeries and I will have to be dragging the materials I use to the garden.
        Jo_Al
      • Gloria C. Baikauskas
        Why are any of you using RoundUP? Vinegar on a hot, sunny day will do the job just as well....and it won t poison the soil....or you. I am not saying to pour
        Message 3 of 7 , Jul 9, 2004
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          Why are any of you using RoundUP? Vinegar on a hot, sunny day will
          do the job just as well....and it won't poison the soil....or you. I
          am not saying to pour vinegar on the soil either. Spray it...or use
          a paintbrush to get it on the leaves. Shading the grass/weeds works
          to some extent depending on the grass, or the weed involved.
          Pickling vinegar <10%> or 20% vinegar works the best. Add a wee bit
          of citrus oil to it....and you have one powerhouse killer there. It
          will kill anything it touches....so that is why I mention the
          paintbrush technique. It keeps less of it from getting into the
          soil...and directs it only where it is needed. Vinegar is cheaper
          than RoundUp, too.

          I continue to wonder how anyone can be on a Natural Farming/Gardening
          group and use RoundUP....from the giant enemy of all
          agriculture...Monsanto. We are on...what is it now? RoundUP3? They
          have to keep changing it....making it more powerful because it stops
          working otherwise. RoundUp is not natural in any form.

          I know I am odd....but I don't think weeds are our enemies. I
          continue to experiment with using weeds to help keep the garden
          healthier, as well as more insect free. Sometimes it gets out of
          hand.....but that is how I learn....as we all learn I suspect.

          Mother Nature seems to know when the soil needs this weed...or that
          weed....though She doesn't see them as weeds....unwanted plants, like
          we do. She knows when the garden needs something....even to the
          point of having allelopathic plants do the job when She thinks it is
          a good idea for only that one plant to be there.

          A lot of the above is from observation on my part. I have let all of
          my beds go....let the weeds do their thing. Some of them I have
          thinned out because I had to do it....but I cut them off at the soil
          level. I want to see what happens from all of this. The one thing I
          do know is that the same weeds/plants do not grow there the next
          season. They could....they easily reseed themselves...but they
          don't. Didn't anyone ever wonder why that is? It could be they do
          regrow in the next season in some places....where their job wasn't
          finished to Mom Nature's satisfaction. Time will tell.

          It just occurs to me that in Nature no one weeds....so how do things
          grow so well? Isn't that what this list is about...mimicking Nature
          ala Fukuoka?

          Entomologists will tell you that a neat garden has an imbalance
          usually. Predator insects have no where to hide to do their jobs.
          It is a bit like a hunter going out to hunt critters in a flashy
          outfit with horns blaring. Wouldn't catch much would he/she?

          Natural Farming/Gardening is all about letting Nature do as much of
          the work as is possible.....because it is the way it should be
          done. I think some of you need to rethink what you are doing for
          this reason. I know I may be out of line....and beg your
          forgiveness, if I am....but I felt compelled to voice it.....and I
          have.

          Gloria, Texas
        • Adam Carter
          Well said Gloria. That s exactly what I ve been thinking but hadn t voiced. Thanks.
          Message 4 of 7 , Jul 10, 2004
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            Well said Gloria. That's exactly what I've been thinking but hadn't
            voiced.

            Thanks.


            On 10/07/2004, at 1:24 PM, Gloria C. Baikauskas wrote:

            > Why are any of you using RoundUP? Vinegar on a hot, sunny day will
            > do the job just as well....and it won't poison the soil....or you. I
            > am not saying to pour vinegar on the soil either. Spray it...or use
            > a paintbrush to get it on the leaves. Shading the grass/weeds works
            > to some extent depending on the grass, or the weed involved.
            > Pickling vinegar <10%> or 20% vinegar works the best. Add a wee bit
            > of citrus oil to it....and you have one powerhouse killer there. It
            > will kill anything it touches....so that is why I mention the
            > paintbrush technique. It keeps less of it from getting into the
            > soil...and directs it only where it is needed. Vinegar is cheaper
            > than RoundUp, too.
            >
            > I continue to wonder how anyone can be on a Natural Farming/Gardening
            > group and use RoundUP....from the giant enemy of all
            > agriculture...Monsanto. We are on...what is it now? RoundUP3? They
            > have to keep changing it....making it more powerful because it stops
            > working otherwise. RoundUp is not natural in any form.
            >
            > I know I am odd....but I don't think weeds are our enemies. I
            > continue to experiment with using weeds to help keep the garden
            > healthier, as well as more insect free. Sometimes it gets out of
            > hand.....but that is how I learn....as we all learn I suspect.
            >
            > Mother Nature seems to know when the soil needs this weed...or that
            > weed....though She doesn't see them as weeds....unwanted plants, like
            > we do. She knows when the garden needs something....even to the
            > point of having allelopathic plants do the job when She thinks it is
            > a good idea for only that one plant to be there.
            >
            > A lot of the above is from observation on my part. I have let all of
            > my beds go....let the weeds do their thing. Some of them I have
            > thinned out because I had to do it....but I cut them off at the soil
            > level. I want to see what happens from all of this. The one thing I
            > do know is that the same weeds/plants do not grow there the next
            > season. They could....they easily reseed themselves...but they
            > don't. Didn't anyone ever wonder why that is? It could be they do
            > regrow in the next season in some places....where their job wasn't
            > finished to Mom Nature's satisfaction. Time will tell.
            >
            > It just occurs to me that in Nature no one weeds....so how do things
            > grow so well? Isn't that what this list is about...mimicking Nature
            > ala Fukuoka?
            >
            > Entomologists will tell you that a neat garden has an imbalance
            > usually. Predator insects have no where to hide to do their jobs.
            > It is a bit like a hunter going out to hunt critters in a flashy
            > outfit with horns blaring. Wouldn't catch much would he/she?
            >
            > Natural Farming/Gardening is all about letting Nature do as much of
            > the work as is possible.....because it is the way it should be
            > done. I think some of you need to rethink what you are doing for
            > this reason. I know I may be out of line....and beg your
            > forgiveness, if I am....but I felt compelled to voice it.....and I
            > have.
            >
            > Gloria, Texas
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
          • Ingrid Bauer/Jean-Claude Catry
            It just occurs to me that in Nature no one weeds....so how do things ... the principle of weed utility . GLoria , i apreciate your take on weeds . the first
            Message 5 of 7 , Jul 10, 2004
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              It just occurs to me that in Nature no one weeds....so how do things
              > grow so well? Isn't that what this list is about...mimicking Nature
              > ala Fukuoka?

              the principle of weed utility .
              GLoria , i apreciate your take on weeds .

              the first step away from pure natural farming is to distinguish between
              weeds and crops .
              jean-claude
            • Lawrence F. London, Jr.
              ... Cut them down (scythe or sickle) let them lay and rot as mulch; do same with seedling weeds that appear later. Plant weeds that shade other weeds and/or
              Message 6 of 7 , Jul 10, 2004
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                Ingrid Bauer/Jean-Claude Catry wrote:
                > It just occurs to me that in Nature no one weeds....so how do things
                > > grow so well? Isn't that what this list is about...mimicking Nature
                > > ala Fukuoka?
                >
                > the principle of weed utility .
                > GLoria , i apreciate your take on weeds .
                >
                > the first step away from pure natural farming is to distinguish between

                > weeds

                Cut them down (scythe or sickle) let them lay and rot as mulch; do same with seedling
                weeds that appear later. Plant weeds that shade other weeds and/or are allelopathic;
                let them grow then cut them before they go to seeds, and lay and rot as mulch.
                You will soon be rid of your weed problem and richer soil with greater tilth and biological activity.
                Bermuda and Quack grass: dig it out or bury it deep; or till it then plant a weed that will out compete it.
                I've done all of the above and it all works.

                LL

                and crops .
                > jean-claude



                --
                L.F.London
                lfl@...
                http://market-farming.com
                http://www.ibiblio.org/ecolandtech
              • SArjuna@aol.com
                ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                Message 7 of 7 , Aug 6, 2004
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                  > A list of allelopathic plants includes oats and white clover, both of
                  > which are recommended to grow to create mulch/nutrients for the garden. If
                  > I plant these, will they release chemicals that will harm my vegetables next
                  > time they grow in the same space?
                  > Shivani




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