GARDEN GOURMET--June 2008
So you are fighting little weeds in a big time
fashion, are you? Well what gardener isn’t?
And, you have been finding the weeding chores
more an exercise (pardon the expression) more “exercise” than getting shed
of the little monsters.
Well, it is par for the course, as my golf-pro
son-in-law says: “The rub of the green.” Still, there are some things you
can do that will make your lot a lot easier (pardon the puns).
In any event, I think we are prone to agree, that
mechanical devices are the best weed implements (like the trusty rototiller),
but the common hoe is probably the most used for weeding (and may
be the best, though it can make muscles quite sore).
Still, if you use your noodle, this kind of implement,
the kind that is used for dragging (not chopping), will eliminate small
weeds by exposing their roots to air and sunshine. It’ll even work on large
weeds, but may require more than one pass. If a weed’s roots remain, this
can lead to generation of more above ground growth.
There are several implements (including the common
hoe) that will eliminate small weeds if one simply backs carefully between
the rows after sinking the business end of the chosen implement in the
earth. This still is not a cupcake, but it beats a chopping motion so far
as the expending energy is concerned. The chopping motion may do a better
Another little trick I have picked up in the weed
war is working with weed covered soil that is a little damp, but still
crumbly. You say, of course, but that you can’t always weed when the soil
is of the best consistency.
So in that case, you have to weed when you can
(that’s like “goin’ fishin”) and put the garden hose or sprinkler can to
work in rendering soil moisture the way you want it. But remember, you
only want to create a loamy, easy-to-move soil . . . not a loblolly. If
it is too wet, it won’t work. You want light, crumbly soil.
Gardens are wont to get crusty on the surface
with prolonged drought or too much rain, or a combination of the two. That
can, and often does, keep seed-originating plants from breaking through
the surface to life-giving sunshine. Some plants may be adversely affected.
Thus, it is always good to keep the soil loose around plants. Tom Waitt,
my dairy-farmer host for gardening, calls it cultivation . . . working
the soil. He adds that this is a very crucial element of growing anything.
I have found that it is well that water, in creating
the right conditions in the soil, should show puddles, but should disappear
into the soil rapidly. Then, after a short period of rest, it is time to
work. But the weeds don’t sprout in one day, and neither should their elimination.
Work slowly, but with a plan. As the old saw goes: “Rome wasn’t built in
I might add, that neither were Utica, or Old Forge,
Poughkeepsie, or Niagra Falls, either and they are all important New York
Be that as it is, the weeds-in-garden syndrome
is very bad this year. They are young now and should be dealt with at the
earliest. There are all kinds of chemical tools to curtail the weeds, but
when the word “chemicals” is mentioned, I shudder for the welfare of my
The long cool, rainy spring has given the weeds
a head start on the veggies and flowers. In many cases, transplanting and
replanting will be necessary. That strikes home, because my three rows
of early corn show me only half a dozen potential roasting-ear producing
plants. I fear they must be replanted, along with the radishes.
Incidentally, if you can get your “tomater” plants
going well, some time before tie-up stage cover the earth around them,
and between the rows, with two inches of straw. It will keep the moisture
in and the weeds out. The straw also will keep the fruits off the earth
and they will not rot as badly.
Also, if rot spots are not real big, the rest
of a “tomater” can be salvaged with a sharp knife, especially for cooking.
Skins can be fished out with a fork after cooking, or if the “tomater”
is still in good shape it can be skinned after blanching in boiling water.
I leave them in the water until the skin cracks. I also am told that freezing
will loosen skins.
RABBITS, BLESS ‘EM—Rabbit
problems seem to be cropping up more prominently this year than in recent
gardens, maybe because the weather let them grow. There simply appear to
be more rabbits.
I have heard several places that the planting
of marigolds in the garden will repulse bunnies, also that the marigolds
should be planted in clusters.
I also have designed a tomater-plant cage from
little chicken wire (conical in shape) to thwart the rabbits’ lunch habits.
I am told that the rabbits can dig under the cages. We will cross that
bridge when we come to it.
This, of course, recalls a neat sort-of little
half-rhyme my dad used to recite for me when the bunnies quit their dens
under the woodshed and got into our garden: “Rabbit . . . Rabbit . . .
you’ve got an awful habit . . . Running through the turnip patch . . .
eating all the cabbages.”
Shive, North Carolina writes: “You might check your ‘squarsh’ plants for
stink bugs, BB. Dig around the plant with a finger. They can bore through
stems and kill plants in a matter of days. I just cleaned out a bunch of
them by spraying a concentrated mix of Sevin around the plants’ roots .
. . had no idea they were even there . . . they are masters at hiding.
For dinner I fixed taters in their britches, cole slaw, broccoli, red beets,
and shrimps . . . all from the garden ‘cepting the shrimps. Will have zucs
ready for lunch soon.”