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Weeds

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  • Griselda Mussett
    What can I learn from the weeds growing on my allotment? Apart from wondering if the range of species is any kind of diagnostic method (how good is my soil?),
    Message 1 of 8 , Nov 15, 2008
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      What can I learn from the weeds growing on my allotment?

      Apart from wondering if the range of species is any kind of
      diagnostic method (how good is my soil?), I am wondering about the
      whole process of 'weeding'. In dry times, I notice how the small
      weeds keep the soil moist and stop it from panning. And the slow-
      worms like having somewhere to hide out. Also, digging and turning
      the soil over may make things look neat for a while but it only gets
      more weeds going and I read that it oxidises the soil too, destroying
      humus.

      But small weeds allow bigger ones to start up, and removing those can
      disrupt the roots of my vegetables. And I have to admit I like the
      allotment to look neat-ish. There is something very compelling
      about tidying up.

      Is it desirable to run a weedier system, and if so, can someone help
      me with details of how to do it?

      Does it depend on having narrow beds so I get easier access to the
      plants I am growing to eat?

      Do I need to mulch more? I have a very random compost heap in one
      corner, which was created when we took over the plot - this heap is
      very mucky and has all sorts of rubbish in it, so I'm not sure I
      trust the contents completely - I don't want to spread thistles and
      brambles back onto the land.

      I have read about green manure and green mulches too, but I am not
      absolutely certain how all that works.

      I have the 'No-Dig' book, and several other texts but I don't seem to
      be able to apply it!!!!

      Any suggestions very welcome.

      Thanks

      Griselda
    • Mary Lloyd
      Hi Griselda, I like your thinking. When I had my own allotment a few years ago the men around me used to pass remarks about my weeds and find creative ways of
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 15, 2008
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        Hi Griselda,
        I like your thinking.
        When I had my own allotment a few years ago the men around me used to pass remarks about my weeds and find creative ways of getting at me to do it their way. I was never tempted to subscribe to their "Alcatraz scool of gardening" methods but it used to spoil what would have been a pleasurable experience, gardening in the peace.
        Their vegetables were always bigger and more abundant than mine I noticed, probably because of their use of chemicals, and they would often show off their successes. I, on the other hand, had a little rebellious part of my plot that I had let the forget-me-nots multiply in for fun. One day it was smothered in butterflies, and I gasped. I think I would rather have those experiences to treasure than the suspect advantage of being able to boast I am doing better at anything than somebody else.
        Getting older I am thinking of no-dig methods for the day I can't do it. At the moment I have a fairly decent plot in my own garden and some very nice weeds I like growing there. I like to get out there and "tidy up" to an extent also: I sometimes use the garden duties as an excuse to get out there on my own and just enjoy the fresh air and the birds and the little plant surprises popping up here and there.
        I am looking forward to what responses you get on this subject since I am looking for the same answers as you.
        Love, Whinnie

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Griselda Mussett
        To: pfaf@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2008 9:42 AM
        Subject: [pfaf] Weeds


        What can I learn from the weeds growing on my allotment?

        Apart from wondering if the range of species is any kind of
        diagnostic method (how good is my soil?), I am wondering about the
        whole process of 'weeding'. In dry times, I notice how the small
        weeds keep the soil moist and stop it from panning. And the slow-
        worms like having somewhere to hide out. Also, digging and turning
        the soil over may make things look neat for a while but it only gets
        more weeds going and I read that it oxidises the soil too, destroying
        humus.

        But small weeds allow bigger ones to start up, and removing those can
        disrupt the roots of my vegetables. And I have to admit I like the
        allotment to look neat-ish. There is something very compelling
        about tidying up.

        Is it desirable to run a weedier system, and if so, can someone help
        me with details of how to do it?

        Does it depend on having narrow beds so I get easier access to the
        plants I am growing to eat?

        Do I need to mulch more? I have a very random compost heap in one
        corner, which was created when we took over the plot - this heap is
        very mucky and has all sorts of rubbish in it, so I'm not sure I
        trust the contents completely - I don't want to spread thistles and
        brambles back onto the land.

        I have read about green manure and green mulches too, but I am not
        absolutely certain how all that works.

        I have the 'No-Dig' book, and several other texts but I don't seem to
        be able to apply it!!!!

        Any suggestions very welcome.

        Thanks

        Griselda





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Griselda Mussett
        I am partly answering my own questions.... found a very useful website with pictures and detailed explanations of what can be achieved: see
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 15, 2008
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          I am partly answering my own questions.... found a very useful
          website with pictures and detailed explanations of what can be
          achieved: see http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/index.php?
          main=gallery2/index&st=6

          griselda








          On 15 Nov 2008, at 09:42, Griselda Mussett wrote:

          > What can I learn from the weeds growing on my allotment?
          >
          > Apart from wondering if the range of species is any kind of
          > diagnostic method (how good is my soil?), I am wondering about the
          > whole process of 'weeding'. In dry times, I notice how the small
          > weeds keep the soil moist and stop it from panning. And the slow-
          > worms like having somewhere to hide out. Also, digging and turning
          > the soil over may make things look neat for a while but it only gets
          > more weeds going and I read that it oxidises the soil too, destroying
          > humus.
          >
          > But small weeds allow bigger ones to start up, and removing those can
          > disrupt the roots of my vegetables. And I have to admit I like the
          > allotment to look neat-ish. There is something very compelling
          > about tidying up.
          >
          > Is it desirable to run a weedier system, and if so, can someone help
          > me with details of how to do it?
          >
          > Does it depend on having narrow beds so I get easier access to the
          > plants I am growing to eat?
          >
          > Do I need to mulch more? I have a very random compost heap in one
          > corner, which was created when we took over the plot - this heap is
          > very mucky and has all sorts of rubbish in it, so I'm not sure I
          > trust the contents completely - I don't want to spread thistles and
          > brambles back onto the land.
          >
          > I have read about green manure and green mulches too, but I am not
          > absolutely certain how all that works.
          >
          > I have the 'No-Dig' book, and several other texts but I don't seem to
          > be able to apply it!!!!
          >
          > Any suggestions very welcome.
          >
          > Thanks
          >
          > Griselda
          >
          >
          >

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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • BrendasOrganics@aol.com
          I have found that many of my weeds are actually edible greens! I throw them in the blender as part of my green smoothie regimen. I used to pick them and
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 16, 2008
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            I have found that many of my 'weeds' are actually edible greens! I throw
            them in the blender as part of my green smoothie regimen.

            I used to pick them and compost them, now I pick them and eat them! It puts
            a whole new spin on 'weeding'

            Brenda
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            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Steve
            Hi Griselda, I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we all have weeds in our gardens. After that I will speak for myself. In response to your
            Message 5 of 8 , Nov 18, 2008
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              Hi Griselda,

              I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we all have weeds in our
              gardens.
              After that I will speak for myself.

              In response to your statement about smaller weeds retaining moisture; this
              is true. Of course, you can have an influence on which weeds grow in your
              space... try scattering seeds of low growing ground covers as you plant
              your veggies. Clovers are good; alfalfa/lucerne is good between rows (if
              you have rows) as you can just mow it as it begins to flower - this adds
              organic material to the soil.
              Mulch is a great tool for weed control. I can suggest "sheet mulching"
              (similar to "no-dig") if you are establishing a large, new garden - or large
              areas in a pre-existing garden.
              Sheet mulching is as it sounds, really.. you lay down a biodegradeable
              light barrier over anything which can be trampled underfoot (chop out or
              pull anything bigger which you don't want), and then alternate layers of
              nitrogenous and carbonaceous materials (nitrogenous = green manures or other
              proteins -depending on your values you can use blood and bone meals; lots of
              folks are against that, though it gets results.. it is not really practical
              on a large scale unless you slaughter your own animals).
              Anyhow, your top layer has got to be a proper mulch material - think of what
              would be falling from overhead in a natural system - leaves, small twigs,
              shells, etc. This layer will hold in moisture and will not be as likely to
              germinate a lot of new seeds falling from overhead (not compared to bare,
              fertilised earth, anyway).

              Big concept - don't let the terminology get you down. It's all just a way
              to feed your soil. We tweak our approach to suit our own locale, but in the
              end you just need to close the loop - create a cycle on the land by
              reintroducing all unused organic material to your system as soon as you can
              to retain vitality.

              If you are suspicious of your compost heap, you need to get it hot enough to
              kill any seeds you don't want to spread - or turn it out onto a control
              patch and pull up any "weeds" which you don't want. Keep a good eye on the
              patch, and you should be ok.

              To get the heap hot you need a good ratio of carbon:nitrogen (25:1 is a good
              start) and a good, moist consistency.

              I have to go look afte the kids real quick..

              Let me know if you have any more questions.

              Peace

              Steve.

              --
              "Look beyond complexion and see community.."
              Maya Angelou


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            • ediblecity
              We use old cardboard. Works great and the worms love it.
              Message 6 of 8 , Nov 18, 2008
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                We use old cardboard. Works great and the worms love it.


                >Sheet mulching is as it sounds, really.. you lay down a
                >biodegradeable light barrier over anything which can be trampled
                >underfoot (chop out or pull anything bigger which you don't want)..."
              • Jim
                ..so do slugs here in the UK...I really would recommend against using cardbord on the vegetable type garden at least. The large thick sheets from appliance and
                Message 7 of 8 , Nov 30, 2008
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                  ..so do slugs here in the UK...I really would recommend against using
                  cardbord on the vegetable type garden at least. The large thick sheets
                  from appliance and bike shops work well for one or 1/2 one season
                  around fruit/nut trees and bushes.

                  --- In pfaf@yahoogroups.com, "ediblecity" <ediblecity@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > We use old cardboard. Works great and the worms love it.
                  >
                  >
                  > >Sheet mulching is as it sounds, really.. you lay down a
                  > >biodegradeable light barrier over anything which can be trampled
                  > >underfoot (chop out or pull anything bigger which you don't want)..."
                  >
                • Bekki Moon
                  I agree with Jim that the slugs do like it, however as I have so many slugs that seem to enjoy my allotment I m not sure that the cardboard makes much
                  Message 8 of 8 , Nov 30, 2008
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                    I agree with Jim that the slugs do like it, however as I have so many slugs that seem to enjoy my allotment I'm not sure that the cardboard makes much difference. I have beds with newspaper or cardboard sheet mulch and those without and they both have a lot of naughty slugs chomping their way happily through them! I do however have a new friend who likes to eat the slugs - a frog, or perhaps as I don't have a pond it is a toad.

                    Jim <cromlech108@...> wrote: ..so do slugs here in the UK...I really would recommend against using
                    cardbord on the vegetable type garden at least. The large thick sheets
                    from appliance and bike shops work well for one or 1/2 one season
                    around fruit/nut trees and bushes.

                    --- In pfaf@yahoogroups.com, "ediblecity" <ediblecity@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > We use old cardboard. Works great and the worms love it.
                    >
                    >
                    > >Sheet mulching is as it sounds, really.. you lay down a
                    > >biodegradeable light barrier over anything which can be trampled
                    > >underfoot (chop out or pull anything bigger which you don't want)..."
                    >







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