"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

Weeds! That’s what most gardeners face today--especially those that go the old-fashioned route of plain dirt, no chemicals.

But there are garden tricks that will ease the pain of weed eradication. Still, it is sweat and blood work, though it delivers a certain satisfaction at seeing one’s garden develop with few weeds, no chemicals.

The ingredients for an almost weedless garden (you seldom get all of ‘em) are water, elbow grease in plentiful amounts, and time. Combined they will not put weeds on the endangered list, but they will help thin ‘em out.

That is to say that the hoe alone is only a stopgap because weeds seem to develop a great root system. Cut them off with a hoe above the roots and the next watering will bring them back strong as ever--maybe stronger.

Here’s the way I do it, but I must confess it is a slow, never-ending process (until frost intervenes). But it makes one’s garden presentable.

An overview of the weed scenario may give the gardener a different view of weeds. We say we hate them, and that may be correct. But after the early summer battle with weeds, it may be that weeds serve a beneficial purpose. At least I like to think that every thing on earth does.

You see, after the garden plants have attained maturity--especially tomatoes--weeds tend to hide the fruits from killing frosts. They extend the gardening season. They protect the fruits from the hot sun, too.

Still, I have no defense for weeds when the garden goes through the developing season--the spring and early summer.

So much for garden philosophy and getting back to the weeds that are ever at hand . . . literally and figuratively.

My process for killing weeds when the ho, ho, hoe is laid aside, is to manually pull them up by the roots.

Just as a weed cut off above the roots will revive, weed roots baking in the hot sun on earth’s surface are doomed. I pull them up, break the soil away from the roots, and it is best to take them away from the garden. The sun and air will polish them off.

Pulling weeds from dry soil is pure, unadulterated work. Some are next to impossible to pull if the weed is more than a foot above the earth. But if these weeds have had a good soaking (rain or artificially) their roots surrender fairly easy. But it still is work.

I usually sprinkle well (but only on the plant and weeds surrounding the plant). Isolated weeds are treated the same way. I leave the surrounding area dry so I can sit while I weed. Weeding from a standing position is a back-breaking process. Crabgrass is very difficult, but it can be obliterated by gathering all of the stems of a plant and lifting the roots out. This is slow but effective. Be careful not to pull your plants.

There are so many weeds, that I will not try to mention them. But pigweed, purslane, dandelion, and plantains are big menaces. Pigweed is upright; plantain, dandelion, and purslane hug the earth.

I keep a bucket handy and the roots go there. They eventually are dumped in the road to be squashed by cars.

Of course, all weeds are targets.

FRY RADISHES?-- Recently, while doing some of my experimental cooking, I sliced some of the red radishes (about one-eighth inch thick, like a carrot ring), added onion slices, and sauted them together in olive oil until the onion slices were showing signs of browning.

To my surprise, the radishes seemed to offer a different taste. They became a rather “chewy” but pleasant tasting meat garnish.

Later, I sliced dry-chilled radishes cold on a lunchmeat and American cheese sandwich (whole-wheat bread with mayonnaise and mustard) to create a zingy sandwich. I left the skins on the radishes.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

morningbeauty.jpg (33792 bytes)
Weeds, like this morning glory climbing a cornstalk in fall, offer an undenied aesthetic value.

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All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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