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When to weed and when to let be

 
pollinator
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I mentioned in another post I mostly let my veggies grow amongst the weeds. The first year I put up my raised beds I made a concerted effort to clear them out of weeds when I could. This year I'm mostly not touching them until they become a problem.

I remember reading Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution and him mostly talking about not excessively weeding his rice paddies. He did however do some weed control if I remember correctly by flooding the paddies once per season (I think?). I haven't read his other books but I don't think he talked about his vegetable garden very much, mostly just saying it was easy to grow some tomatoes near the house.

I'm trying to build a mental framework for when I should weed my raised beds and when I should just let them be.

My basic understanding is weeding is done to prevent unwanted plants from outcompeting crop plants.
My basic understanding of soil health is that for the soil to be optimally healthy, there should be as many plants growing in it as possible so that they photosynthesize and spread energy and nutrients into the soil and prevent the sun from bleaching it, and that nature's selection will self-correct for nutrient deficiencies over time.

It seems to me that the latter is generally more important than the former in my garden.

But I do see some competition problems occurring. Some of those are:

- Vetch tendrils can make harvesting lettuce or green onions difficult.
- Grasses spread and block planting space.
- Oxalis and some others grow big and shade out weaker crop plants, or cause them to put a lot of energy into getting sunlight.

I haven't measured the nutrient and water competition issues, but lots of agricultural scientists supposedly have and the wikipedia article on weeding mentions that after about three weeks of growing onions (apparently very susceptible to weed pressure) experienced significant yield losses.

My guess is that many people weed broadly for simplicity, but that in an ideal situation we would be very selective about what and when we remove from the garden.

I want to be smart and use observation and measurement to let me be physically lazy and productive at the same time. My best thoughts so far are to increase the amount of surface area taken up by planted crops and selectively thin those as they grow to decrease available space for weeds. Then if a particular weed is obviously outcompeting my crops, I may selectively remove it.

I can afford to waste some yield to experiments and observation, but the less yield I get the less enthusiasm I get from my consumers (my family), so yield does matter some.

I'd love to hear input from experienced permie gardeners, especially about weeding in raised bed annual gardens.
 
gardener
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Standard raised beds are actually too low for me; I've got a belly and I don't work well bent over.  The bulk of my annual gardening is in large containers raised up (think calf tubs on pallet tables, although I have many other arrangments) so that the soil level is right there at a convenient height for my aging eyes to see and my idle fingers to react.  I'd say I don't weed at all, but of course that's not true.  My containers are intensively planted (square-foot-garden style, but nowhere nearly that organized or regimented) and I routine pluck weeds when they are about an inch and a half tall, which is to say, when they're big enough to distinguish weeds from volunteer plants (dill and cilantro in particular, in my garden) that I want to keep.  But at that size, it's just a matter of seeing and plucking without really being work, as long as I'm out there every day.

For the few things (okra, most often) I have two strategies.  By far the largest one is to mulch the shit out of the plants with weed-suppressive wood chips.  Sometimes I might need one careful hoe pass before the plants are large enough to mulch around, but I doubt I touch the hoe three times in a summer.  
 
gardener
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Grass is of the devil and not in a good way.

More seriously, grass and bindweed are the two things I attack on sight.
With everything else , it depends.
I prefer to let trees grow, at least until I know what they are.
Rather than pulling a plant , consider cutting it at the soil or even just stripping the leaves.
Depending on your situation,  applying cardboard or ceramic tiles, or woodchips might be easier than weeding.

I definitely over sow and thin, I also sow mustard or radishes under taller plants.
 
pollinator
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I generally weed my raised beds at the beginning but underplant with desirables to compete with weeds later on in the season. So a corn bed will have annual herbs or small things like radishes growing in it to compete with the weeds and give me an additional crop.

In other areas, my weeding is plant specific. Unfortunately my chickens aren't fond of grasses, other than their seeds, but I weed lots of plants that the chickens love and I don't, like cow parsnip.
 
L. Johnson
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I generally weed my raised beds at the beginning but underplant with desirables to compete with weeds later on in the season. So a corn bed will have annual herbs or small things like radishes growing in it to compete with the weeds and give me an additional crop.

In other areas, my weeding is plant specific. Unfortunately my chickens aren't fond of grasses, other than their seeds, but I weed lots of plants that the chickens love and I don't, like cow parsnip.



Just to be clear you pull weeds and then feed them to your chickens in their environment? Or are they free ranging or are you doing chicken tractoring or something like that?
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
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At this point, I take weeds to the chickens. We have too many predators, including feral cats to let them free range and of course the chickens aren’t going to limit themselves to want I want them eating.
 
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Lots of chop and drop. my favorite tool is a Stirrup hoe that I use between row and in areas I do not want weeds to grow. basic goal is it prevent them from going to seed.
 
gardener
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A lot of it seems to vary according to your setting and your soil. I love the idea of mulching the crap out of everything, but 1) my soil eats mulch as fast as I can put it down and 2) when the mulch is there, it attracts every slug, snail, and slimy nibbler, plus gives the rats lots of hidey holes and then they eat everything. I mulch only on my paths.

You also mention another thing-- weeds in one place are another man's treasure. My mother always comments on oxalis: for her it's a great pot plant, for me it's a plague from hades that appears everywhere the ground is disturbed. Thankfully my rabbits eat it, because I'm constantly pulling it out when it gets big enough for them to snack on. Weeds here come in two categories- leave until they're big enough to pull out for the rabbits to eat, or pull them out before they get big and take over everything (bindweed, switchgrass, etc). I don't weed too much: the rabbits have to eat, after all, and they prefer weeds. At this point I leave the stuff they love (dandelions and relatives) and that is almost a secondary crop for me.
 
pollinator
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Seems like you're on the right track in your way of thinking about being selective. The longer you're in one place, the quicker you learn to ID plants and know what will be a problem. And then what should be chopped and dropped vs pulled outright.
I have noticed long term benefits just by being a little selective. For instance, I have a little pasture with no hoofstock in it yet. I learned to let the clover grow and to go through with the scythe a few times a summer to cut down the horseweed that grows out. Guess what? No horseweed this year.
Raised beds are a bit different in that I consider their surface like sacred ground that only my intended veg gets to grow in! So I keep them weed free. Outside the beds, there's tons of clover gradually replacing the grass because I let it... rather than mowing it all to the ground and letting the grass win.  
 
master pollinator
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We eat a lot of our weeds. Eat The Weeds by Green Deanne is my favorite site for identifying what we can eat. For now, I am only allowing those things that I already know what they are, to stay in my garden beds. I have a mystery weed that mimics a prostrate style of lady's thumb. It wants to take over my garden, and it won't let anything else stay alive. So, for the next few years, I'm only going to let the things I know very well stay in my garden beds. A couple of years ago, I assumed the mystery weed was my old friend, and now it wants to strangle my garden plants out. Bad weed.

If you want to learn edible weeds from a book, I think Samuel Thayer's books are the best ones out there.
 
gardener
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I know this is probably more specific to garden beds, vegetable patches,etc, but my food forest essentially really started to take off when I decided to stop cutting the majority of the grass and "weeds".   My two cherry trees turned into a mini orchard of about eight trees because new trees sprouted from the far-ranging roots of the original trees.

A blueberry bush came up in one place I stopped mowing (must have been planted and forgotten by a previous owner of the property) .  Clover started spreading everywhere in an area with low fertility.  Five or more American persimmon trees came up and at least three have started fruiting now in the last year or so.

Basically when it comes to weeding/mowing/etc.  I look at the area and only remove that which might be invasive, use space or light I want for something else or something nasty (poison ivy).  
 
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I rarely have occasion to weed. I almost exclusively chop n’ drop. When I do pull  something, I use it as mulch, just like the stuff I chop. I consider this very important, especially for the weeds that are super rampant and really really want to take over my garden, because that means that whatever minerals that weed accumulates are deficient, and if I remove the whole plant, I make the problem worse, besides disturbing the root zone of the growies I planted. I’ve gotten to the point where I see the weeds as mulch generators providing a service, not as undesirable. When I harvest mulch from them, I’m more likely to worry that I’ll kill them than try to kill them. I only cut off enough to keep them from shading out my own stuff, and leave the rest. This is because plants always seem to shade the soil better while they are alive, than as mulch. I even like to make sure the weeds go to seed. I don’t want to lose whatever function they provide.
 
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:We eat a lot of our weeds. Eat The Weeds by Green Deanne is my favorite site for identifying what we can eat. For now, I am only allowing those things that I already know what they are, to stay in my garden beds. ... So, for the next few years, I'm only going to let the things I know very well stay in my garden beds. ...

If you want to learn edible weeds from a book, I think Samuel Thayer's books are the best ones out there.



This!  I came here to say this same thing.  Learn what your weeds really are.  Are they good weeds or bad weeds?  Are they edible? Are they medicinal?

Sometimes a person will need to let the weed flower in order to identify it.  Once you have determined that the plant has no value keep it from flowering thus going to seed.

This is where chop and drop will be your friend.  Also, chop and drop will put nutrients back into the soil.

Thanks for sharing your weed adventures with us.

 
L. Johnson
pollinator
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Mulching in the raised bed is possible... I've mulched with rice hulls (a common garden amendment around here). I also tried mulching with old leaves. The timing seems to be very important in these cases. Mulch before sprouting and you block your crops, mulch very young sprouts and the rice hulls jump onto the sprouts when it rains or they get watered. Mulch too late and the weeds quickly outpace the crop.

My goal is to be as lazy as possible and get amazing results. Hah! But really I'm just tired of trying to fight nature with brute force... because I know I will lose.

I might do some botanical documentation with photos and discussion about particular pressures then. It would surely help me to think about it while I'm documenting it, and maybe help some other people think about weeds too. There might be some visual cues as to when to weed, or particular plant features to watch out for. Discovering and documenting these would be valuable for me.

 
gardener
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Example: Visiting a friend in the fall. He had cut and eaten the lambs quarters around the main plants in the bed but left it to get 3 feet tall around the edge. that gve him wind and frost protection for the plants in the center.
You can let something like lettuce go to seed and become the dominants weed in your bed. Transplant your tomatoes into a bed full of lettuce and you don't need mulch. My leaks went into a wicking bed of bock choy which is now producing the seed for the next crop. Chopping and dropping the grass while harvesting the greens is not much extra effort.
 
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The bulk of the weeds that grow on our property are not native to this area, and many are invasive and on our state's noxious weed list. I try to eliminate the non-natives, not wanting to contribute to what is already a big problem in our state. There are some native weeds that I enjoy and they can stay in my garden beds and woods.  
My raised beds in my food garden are so thickly planted though that the only weeds that seem to be able to survive at all are grasses that have come up from the paths, so they get pulled as they would take over if I allowed them to.  By interspersing my vegetables with other vegetables that either get harvested later or earlier than the primary plants in the bed, or give or get shade to/from them, I can squeeze a lot more food-producing plants into the beds. When you do this, you do have to feed the beds quite a bit more with compost and fertilizer than you would otherwise to keep the plants happy.
 
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not really a weed, cos I planted it! I put in  field beans as an over winter green manure on my main veg patch last winter. it seemed a shame to cut them, but I needed the space in spring. so I did a chop and drop round the new plants I put in. there were slugs but I spent a few minutes each morning raking around the mulch and in a week there were none to speak of. also I think it confused the pheasants and they haven't been such a problem this year. this is something I will try again.
 
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I have the same doubt.
We have a grass here called gramma grass which is very similar to bermuda grass, and experienced farmers hate it to the heart, and it's widely used in parks and gardens. Whenever farmers can, they remove it.

However, in the year I am learning, I have not weeded it once, only before I seeded my crops, I cleaned the spot first. So far, gramma has not been an issue to my crops (water and heat are).

My rule of thumb for now is this:
Is this weed touching the crop? Yes -->
    Is it of the same family than my crop (root vs root, herb vs herb)? Yes --> Chop at ground level.
    Is there already enough mulch?
      No --> Drop it as mulch.
      Yes --> To the compost bin.
The reason to use the compost bin is that the soil is very dry, so droped herbs don't become naturally humus, but instead they become dust. In the compost bin there's some humidity.

I also try to grow very intensively, so the bed leaves no room for weeds.

Maybe in the future I will learn how evil this grass is, but for now we haven't had an argument.
 
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My garden is composed primarily of raised beds (slightly raised, no sides on them) in zone 6, West Virginia, 40 inches of rain a year, on a ridge. I see few slugs. So I rely on mulch; and about the only weeds I consider "good weeds" are the ones that pop up in spring, purple dead nettle and chickweed and bitter cress. I consider these good weeds because they're easy to remove, shutting out more obnoxious weeds, and they feed my compost pile. Well, I also allow a fair number of volunteers with pretty flowers--yarrow, butterfly weed, mullein--to remain, for their beauty and their services in support of pollinators and predator bugs. I suppose in a climate where slugs are a big problem, mulch wouldn't work and you'd need to use weeds to keep the soil covered, But here I can't see letting them grow "unless they compete with my plants"--of course they do. The big issue is letting them go to seed, or in the case of perennials with strong roots, get established. I've spent a lot of time regretting letting certain weeds get established. But the problem I have is that the mulch that's available is hay, and it always seems to have mature weed seeds (grasses and clover). I'm finding a solution, I think, in putting a double layer of newspaper down under the hay where there's room--that at least delays the weed germination--and using more mulch, enabled by turning the north end of my clearing, which is heavy clay and poorly drained, into mostly a hay meadow. My husband cuts it with a scythe...so now I have my own supply of most of the hay I need.
 
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I’m a student of Dr. Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web. Learning what to do with what weeds, and more importantly, why they’re even there in the first place, is enlightening, to say the least. Weeds are part of “plant succession”. Prior to Dr. E’s teaching, I’ve been no-till for ten years. I mulch with leaves and straw (whenever it’s free) and my soil has NO compaction (tested with penetrometer). My 1500 sq ft garden has almost ZERO weeds, and I always attributed it to the mulch and spending five minutes a week on a weed walkabout, removing any that dared poke their head above the soil. Without trying to elaborate on her entire lessons, weeds proliferate in disturbed and fertilized soil because that provides Nitrate... weed food...having proper no-till practices and healthy soil biology provides ammonium... plant food.

In general, she teaches to leave weeds be as living mulch, unless they’re going to outcompete your crop for light. When annual weeds need to be removed, they are always cut, never pulled, leaving the roots... and carbon, in the soil. The one weed I am diligent about keeping at bay is Scotch/Twitch/quack/crab grass... whatever it’s called in your area. It has to be gently teased from the soil or it will regenerate from every broken root. Even noxious perennials can be killed by cutting instead of pulling, but one must be diligent to keep the green chopped off... eventually the root starves to death!
 
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Here on the Saskatchewan Prairie (Canada) we typically go from "too cold to plant/seed" to "too hot to plant/seed" overnight,  with no spring-like temperatures between. I use raised beds for my veggies and have found that leaving the weedlings to grow for awhile when I seed carrots,  beets, etc provides needed shade when the weather flips over to its hot setting.  Otherwise the veggie  seeds/seedlings get scorched. The veggies get a good start under the protection of the broad leafed weeds... then I pull the weeds when they reach 4-6 inches high, before they can diminish the veggies,  by which time the veggies will take over. One good weeding and that's it. Like everyone else,  grass is the exception,  this is pulled as soon as it shows or it takes over.
 
pollinator
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Lew Johnson wrote:Mulching in the raised bed is possible... I've mulched with rice hulls (a common garden amendment around here). I also tried mulching with old leaves. The timing seems to be very important in these cases. Mulch before sprouting and you block your crops, mulch very young sprouts and the rice hulls jump onto the sprouts when it rains or they get watered. Mulch too late and the weeds quickly outpace the crop.

My goal is to be as lazy as possible and get amazing results. Hah! But really I'm just tired of trying to fight nature with brute force... because I know I will lose.

I might do some botanical documentation with photos and discussion about particular pressures then. It would surely help me to think about it while I'm documenting it, and maybe help some other people think about weeds too. There might be some visual cues as to when to weed, or particular plant features to watch out for. Discovering and documenting these would be valuable for me.



Since you're in Japan, if there's any way of doing what is traditional that might be worth considering--flooding once a year was just part of what people did in Fukuoka's day, and he just went with it.  I'm not sure if it's how the ecosystem tended to function generally, but the sense I recall in reading it was that Fukuoka was just going with the flow.  With a raised bed, that's not going to be as easy, I suppose.

As for eating weeds, maybe make them into a nice salad first and add lots of dressing, presentation is everything.  Once your family is hooked on your yield, then you can tell them their eating weeds...

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Another weed that I just learned a great use for from Patrick from Vermont--pokeweed--which is the American version of daikon radish, sort of, since it has a huge deep taproot.  But the new use for it is to let it go to seed for birdfood to draw fire from them so they don't shoot your crops.  I don't know quite how this would work out in spring, but if they've overwintered in your area that works well.  (I doubt they're in Japan, but who knows).  
 
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This guy is into prepping, and so am I..


What caught my attention was not that it was hidden, but how low the input for work was to make this  garden.     No tilling,   only putting compost where the plant is growing.


This is my kind of weeding.     Myself I just use a bagging lawnmower to collect the weeds to make more fertilizer..

I am all about low work to grow food.
 
pollinator
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Another weed that I just learned a great use for from Patrick from Vermont--pokeweed--which is the American version of daikon radish, sort of, since it has a huge deep taproot.  But the new use for it is to let it go to seed for birdfood to draw fire from them so they don't shoot your crops.  I don't know quite how this would work out in spring, but if they've overwintered in your area that works well.  (I doubt they're in Japan, but who knows).  



https://www.saveur.com/poke-sallet/

I've got a stand of pokeweed toward the back of my backyard growing area that I'm allowing to expand somewhat because the deer head for that first before trying to demolish other things. And weirdly enough, they LOVE my comfrey (thank you, Trace) and will strip the leaves off of the bigger clumps, then leave scat around in the paths that the rain soon washes into the ground. I'm hoping that means more soil fertility ultimately.



 
pollinator
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Quack grass, goatshead and bindweed are the weeds I have zero tolerance for. I tend to leave everything else unless it's a) in an established decorative bed in the public areas of the yard or b) overtaking my more "desirable" plants. When I weed I pull and drop (as opposed to chop and drop) because cutting these plants off at the base just leaves a tougher root in the ground which puts up tougher shoots which then actively try to smother my plants. :)

Mulch in an arid area is very different. Woodchips work--they don't break down quickly, but since the breakdown occurs in the damp(er) zone close to the soil the organics stay rather than just desiccating into dust. Leaves work if they're deep enough and have some time to break down--a thin layer in the summer is useless. A thick layer in the fall works, but they won't last more than a year or so.
 
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What, if at all, does mustard and radish do to prevent or control weeds?
 
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I’ve collected 100 gallon livestock tanks for a few years and use those to garden in. I’m up to 12 of them this year. I just watch local ads for them, but also keep an eye out for them in junk piles at every farm we visit for yard or barn sales. I think people think I’m nuts when I say I actually prefer if they are leaky!

Taller than any raised bed gardens I’ve seen, they work well for me as I have a health challenge which causes balance issues so I need to walk with a cane or walker. These tanks work perfectly to pull up my seated walker and work weeding or planting or tending them.

I call them “modified huegelkulture” because in or to use less soil I fill the tanks about 1/3 the way up with rotting wood before topping off with well-composted horse C manure and kitchen compost.

A young man we’ve had here a few times to help with some of the heavier yardwork was amazed at the diameter of the stems of my tomato plants. His dad is a pretty intense gardener and this kid actually took pictures of my garden, putting his thumb next to plants to give perspective, then sent them home.
 
Diane Kistner
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I'm thinking of getting some of these myself, and I love the idea of bucket hugelkultur! I was thinking of trying to do something like this guy did for a trellis.

https://www.instructables.com/Veggie-Planters-From-an-IBC-Tote-and-Old-Fence/

 
Shelley Senkbeil
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That sure looks like a great setup, though it’s more than I could do myself, and while my husband is cm quite handy in many ways, he admits woodworking is WAY down the list!

My troughs have all been either free or pretty cheap. I’ve used a number of different items over the years for trellises, from hog or cattle panel sections, to several different styles of tomato cages. But my favorite and the one I’ve found to be most useful is a part of a frame of a custom child’s bed we grabbed off the curb on trash day in town. I actually made my hubby snag everything except for the mattress, and I use the frame/springs with metal grid for my cucumbers. I put it in the middle of one of the largest tanks going across the long way. I have two 8ft metal T-posts hammered all the way to the bottom of the tank where they are caught between the wood in the bottom, and in the soil right against the center of the short side of the tank coming up. Because the soil ends about 6” from the top of the tank, and the mattress springs are resting on top of the tank edge tied to the t-posts, that means there is room to plant the cucumber plants along underneath the spring frame. I think I remember the frame being 40” x 76” which means the frame hangs out over the ends of the tank by about 8” on either end. In a good year I can grow pretty much a solid wall of a variety of cucumber plants that produces for several months.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Manu Imam wrote:What, if at all, does mustard and radish do to prevent or control weeds?


They can be planted very densely then thinned for micro greens daily. A few can be allowed to go to seed which can be harvested when the pods are mature but not open yet.  Allowing them to drop the seed means they will come up as a green mulch next year. Their roots are shallow and do not compete much with deep rooted plants but do compete with most weeds.
 
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Abraham Palma wrote:I have the same doubt.
We have a grass here called gramma grass which is very similar to bermuda grass, and experienced farmers hate it to the heart, and it's widely used in parks and gardens. Whenever farmers can, they remove it.

However, in the year I am learning, I have not weeded it once, only before I seeded my crops, I cleaned the spot first. So far, gramma has not been an issue to my crops (water and heat are).

My rule of thumb for now is this:
Is this weed touching the crop? Yes -->
    Is it of the same family than my crop (root vs root, herb vs herb)? Yes --> Chop at ground level.
    Is there already enough mulch?
      No --> Drop it as mulch.
      Yes --> To the compost bin.
The reason to use the compost bin is that the soil is very dry, so droped herbs don't become naturally humus, but instead they become dust. In the compost bin there's some humidity.

I also try to grow very intensively, so the bed leaves no room for weeds.

Maybe in the future I will learn how evil this grass is, but for now we haven't had an argument.



Hello😎 I'm new to permaculture so might be barking up the wrong weed, but I thought cropping and dropping or mulching with anything is more likely to conserve water because it prevents evaporation.

Even if the mulch material is dried out, it covers the underlying soil, shading the heat from reaching the water for longer.
Also even if the plant material appears to turn to dust, that dust will still contain more nutrition than the bare soil will.


I have a wire deer fence around my no-dig lasagne beds, which is impossible to strim for mulch, so I'm having to hand pull the grasses from it. It's a right royal pain in the posterior.
But the grasses are seeding all over my beds and over a metre talk in places. The other alternative is to remove the fence, strim and replace the fence.

My rule this year has been crop or pull and drop is seeds aren't present, otherwise pull and compost

I can't say I've identified any friendly weeds yet,  it all seems to be grass and bindweed. Oh yes, I leave the clover until it gets too big for it's boots. And dandelions are heavenly.

🥕🍅🌍⛈️
 
pollinator
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Weeds around here can easily consume a garden so I do a lot of weeding.
I will leave a wide band of weeds around most of my gardens as I have found the weeds will get the assault from the pests first.  I think the native weeds are the reasons the pests show up and when their food source is gone and you have nice rows of squash and tomatoes lined up for them....
I cannot prove it works but when the weeds are riddled with holes and only minimal damage on food crops, that's the way I will continue to do it.
 
Lauren Ritz
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A few years ago I planted zucchini and then neglected to "weed" the seeding lettuce. The zucchini inside the lettuce shield had no squash bugs for the entire season. Zucchini outside was decimated. Since then I tend to let a lot of the weeds go, hoping they'll protect my plants.
 
Garth Wunsch
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The best “solution” I’ve found for invasive grass is to dig a trench about 10” deep between grass and garden. The rhizomes seem to run near the surface, so are air pruned at the trench… seems to be working so far - two years in.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Lauren Ritz wrote:A few years ago I planted zucchini and then neglected to "weed" the seeding lettuce. The zucchini inside the lettuce shield had no squash bugs for the entire season. Zucchini outside was decimated. Since then I tend to let a lot of the weeds go, hoping they'll protect my plants.

Again my point if you don't want to do a lot of weeding plant desirable weeds. Many of the things we plant in our gardens started out as weeds and were selected for their desirable attributes. Selective harvesting seems less of a chore than weeding. Today I harvested the kale leaves that were shading the yacon that needs space for the large roots to form. A few lambs quarters with them that weren't  shaded out by the kale.
 
pollinator
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This year I'm planning to test a kind of middle ground between "weeding" and "not weeding". My land is on a steep hillside, so bare dirt is a bad idea. But I'm also not able to mulch due to a number of reasons. Previous years, my attempts to keep the place weeded have failed miserably.

So, this year I'm trying a couple things. First, some of my crops are being underseeded with low-growing cover crops and/or companion plants. I've even stock up on chia seeds to plant between rows.

Second is a prototype "weed mower". It's just a small radio-controlled toy car, with a very tiny mower blade underneath. The mower blade is actually from an electric coffee grinder. The idea is that in sections that weren't underseeded, I can use it to mow between rows, and sometimes within a row, to keep the weeds shorter than the crops. I tend to select for fairly aggressive vegetable varieties, so as long as they're taller than most of the weeds, competition isn't a problem.

(I'm also putting an eye-bolt on the front and back of the car, so that I can attach poles to both ends for finer control in tricky spots. Especially important when the plants are still small enough I might run over them!)

I'm still tinkering with the car, so it's not ready for show yet. But I'll post pictures once it is.
 
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