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What do you do to minimize inputs in your annual garden?  RSS feed

 
Peter Hartman
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Location: springfield, MO
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I know that we have had discussion like this before but I Would like to get some fresh ideas out there.

As we all know an annual garden plot is a never ending battle to keep the unwanted pioneers out and keep our mostly annual plants with the space that they need. The main categories I have kind of lumped everything into include:

Time/human energy
Money/fuel energy
Organic inputs

My goal is to spend about 2 hours of maintenance per week in the garden. This does not include harvest/preservation time. For the past 5 years or so I have relied almost entirely on bringing in wood chips. I have a deal with a guy on craigslist he has a tree trimming business. When he is close to my work he will let me know and he will chip into my truck on my lunch break. this works pretty well but it is not usually enough to keep the weeds at pay in the garden. Fortunately the city has an organic recycle center that sells rough mulch for $7 a yard. They often have a deal where it will be 2 yards for $7. I have hauled about 10 yards to the garden this spring. I may need a couple more. I think I have about $50 in that so far. When the "weeds" are really bad I will use brown construction paper before I put down the mulch. I will have about $40 in that. I don't usually have to do this much every year but things were getting behind. Oh and this garden is somewhere around 1500 sqft.  What are you guys doing to save time and money?
 
Roger Rhodes
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Location: Oklahoma - Zone 6b today 7a tomorrow
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I winter chickens in the garden.  This helps with everything but the bermuda grass. It has been the biggest battle.  I've now added a chicken moat around 3 sides of the garden to keep new grass from creeping in and we have used a broadfork to loosen what was left in the garden.  It is MUCH easier to pull then.  Once we have it pretty knocked out I expect much less effort needed.  I still have the option to "spot treat" with a few chickens in a small enclosure here and there in the garden throughout the growing season.  I leave all the clover and other misc. beneficials in the garden until I want to work them in or let the chickens eat them.

Comfrey is good at shading out stuff too...btw
 
Stacy Witscher
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Location: SF Bay Area
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I use junk mail, and paperwork that would require shredding, instead of brown paper. And just get a 15 cu yard load dumped in my driveway from a tree trimmer company.
Stacy
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Roger Rhodes wrote:I've now added a chicken moat around 3 sides of the garden to keep new grass from creeping in


I love it! I do something similar in one of my fields. Maintain a 6 foot wide patch of bare earth all the way around the field to keep rhizomous plants from creeping in.
 
Kyle Neath
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Location: High Sierras, CA 6400'
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Some stuff that I've been doing the past few years:

  • Plant winter rye in the fall when the plants are dying, chop & drop in the spring (always keep something useful growing in the bed).
  • In the spring, cover the beds with partially-rotted leaves from the fall.
  • Always plant some ground cover when I plant my veggies (white clover and nasturtiums  for most part).
  • Leave frost-killed plants in the bed come fall (aka don't rip up dead plants). A the most, I untie my tomatoes from their supports.
  • Stop stressing about weeds so much


  • Overall, my biggest wins have come from planting more of the seeds I want (like clover), re-purposing leaves & pine-needles, and to just kind of stop caring about weeds so much. I also use transplants from an indoor (garage) seed starting setup, which I personally believe reduces effort over the long term pretty dramatically. No cold-frame/cover/etc games with protecting young seedlings from frost, central watering during the plant's most tender time, and ease of using gratuitous amounts of mulch. I've also stopped labeling my seedlings (gasp) and I've found that's reduced a ton of effort/tedium on my part. I don't grow that many varieties of the same plant, so it's pretty obvious what's growing by the time it's a few inches high.
     
    Peter Hartman
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    Kyle Neath wrote:

  • Stop stressing about weeds so much


  • Overall, my biggest wins have come from planting more of the seeds I want (like clover), re-purposing leaves & pine-needles, and to just kind of stop caring about weeds so much. I also use transplants from an indoor (garage) seed starting setup, which I personally believe reduces effort over the long term pretty dramatically. No cold-frame/cover/etc games with protecting young seedlings from frost, central watering during the plant's most tender time, and ease of using gratuitous amounts of mulch. I've also stopped labeling my seedlings (gasp) and I've found that's reduced a ton of effort/tedium on my part. I don't grow that many varieties of the same plant, so it's pretty obvious what's growing by the time it's a few inches high.


    Not worrying about weeds is not an option here. Either you take care of it or you loose the garden. Now some of our most aggressive weeds are actually edibles. But they are generally only tasty when they are small in the early spring. We get lambs quarter, black heart and poke. All of them will get head high buy July if nothing is done. They spread and spread. There are at least 3 vines that also will completely shade out a climbing tomato, morning glory passion fruit and one other that I have not identified. The worst offenders are johnson grass and Bermuda grass.

    I also add leaves to my garden when I can get them. They tend to blow away if not topped with mulch though.
     
    Roger Rhodes
    Posts: 30
    Location: Oklahoma - Zone 6b today 7a tomorrow
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    Peter Hartman wrote:

    I also add leaves to my garden when I can get them. They tend to blow away if not topped with mulch though.


    Try bagging the leaves and walking on the bags a bit to break the leaves down before spreading them. They tend to stay put for me if they are "chopped" up a bit. Running them thru a shredder or bagger mower are less responsible but fast methods...
     
    Maureen Atsali
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    I try to keep my inputs to a bare minimum, which usually means buying a few varieties of experimental seeds each growing season.  Otherwise I have a closed system.

    I am working in 2.5 acres in the tropics, so during the rainy season there is plenty of biomass to cut into mulch. 

    There is never enough compost to go around, especially this year as we have fewer animals.  But I just do the best with what I have.

    The big problem for me is TIME and energy inputs.  I just don't seem to have enough of either to keep up.  Like others on this thread have said, not weeding is not an option.  We have something like Bermuda grass and a few other nasty aggressive weeds that will over run the garden and choke it if not dealt with.  My husband, the non-farmer, tells me I will never convince locals to try permiculture because my methods are too slow and too labor intensive.  It doesn't matter that they work.



     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    I find that it's much easier to weed out small plants than large. I love weeding the day before weed seeds break the surface... Or when the plants are very tiny. They die easily at that point.  I practice what I call 80% weeding. Weed today with the goal of getting 80% of the weeds. Weed tomorrow with the goal of getting 80% of the weeds. Weed the next day with the goal of getting 80% of the weeds. The goal of 80% weeding is to not waste the time trying to get every weed, every time. Cause those few stragglers are a huge time sink. Instead, my goal is to chop most of the weeds off today. By tomorrow the weed leaves will by dry and crunchy so I can easily see what I missed. And I use a different tool every day... One time, I'll use a wheel-hoe a foot wide to run along the outside of the rows. The next time I'll use a 4" wide hoe, and sweep it only between plants in the row. The time after that, I'll use a hook with a fine point that can get to single plants that are close to my vegetables. The time after that, I'll pull stragglers by hand.  It seems to me like it takes much less effort to do a little bit of weeding every day than a lot of weeding every week or two. The most high-priority weed to eliminate is something that is currently releasing propagules. The next most important weed is the one that will be releasing propagules next week. There are some weeds that are so pernicious that I will stop whatever else I am doing in the garden to remove them regardless of their age. Purslane and burr grass come to mind.

    I don't much care for using a digging fork in my hard soil, but it's the most effective way that I have found to deal with the rhizomous weeds. Digging the tubers and carrying them out of the garden really slows them down.

    I typically stop weeding when my desired plants are large enough to shade the soil, or out-grow the weeds. A patch of corn might only get weeded one time, when it is about 4 inches tall. After that it can fend for itself. Squash might only get weeded until they are about 3 weeks old.

    Also, because I practice this sort of minimal weeding, and also grow my own seeds, my varieties have a high tolerance for weed pressure. With carrots, I did a specific breeding project to select for carrots that can out-compete my weeds. So instead of growing 8" tall, my carrots are knee high: Huge robust plants that give the weeds a woopin.

    carrots-2016-10-20.jpg
    [Thumbnail for carrots-2016-10-20.jpg]
    Carrots that can out-compete weeds
     
    Kyle Neath
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    Not worrying about weeds is not an option here. Either you take care of it or you loose the garden.


    I think my previous statement did come off a bit like "ignore weeds" but I think I meant it more in line with practicing mind state to stop worrying so much about them. I definitely still weed (especially since I use leaf mulch, I get plenty of alder & maple volunteers), but it's more that I've tried to practice every year being more comfortable seeing weeds in the garden. I know that I used to spend a lot of effort on weeds, especially at times that it didn't matter (like late into the season when my plants are fully established). I know it sounds silly, but it really was my mental state that cost me so much energy. I wanted my beds to look nice, and a big part of that was weeding far past any effective threshold.

    I like Joseph's philosophy a lot. Aim for 80% and just do a little bit at a time. It's that last 20% that always seemed to cost me 80% of my effort.
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    I don't worry about the weeds either. I do a tremendous amount of weeding. But I do it pragmatically, not for appearances. By the time a crop is 8 inches tall, I feel like it doesn't need to be weeded again.

    Mindfulness if very helpful to me to minimize the time I spend weeding. For example, if there is an area of my garden that is filled with grass or bindweed, I'll plant squash or corn there, so that they can spend the growing season shading out the weeds. The area will be much less weedy next growing season. Also. I like weeding between rows with a lawnmower. A primary purpose of my weeding is to minimize propagules. So if I mow a weed patch just as it starts flowering, then it doesn't make seeds which is a great technique to save time next year. And it allows the weeds to generate fertility for next year.

    Also, my weeds germinate seasonally. Some in early-spring, some in mid-spring, some mid-summer, some in fall, etc. For example. If I time a planting for just after the lambsquarters have germinated, then I don't have to worry about weeding out the lambsquarters. If a crop can get established before the lambsquarters germinates, then the lambsquarters seeds will stay dormant in the soil waiting for better conditions. Last year, I managed to time a planting of corn perfectly. It didn't need to be weeded even once.

    If I irrigate in furrows instead of by sprinkling, that minimizes the amount of annual weed seeds that can germinate.

    When I figured out that I was spending half my time making labels and keeping records, I stopped labeling and recordkeeping. That doubled the amount of food I could grow for the same labor. 
     
    Todd Parr
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    Joseph Lofthouse wrote: So instead of growing 8" tall, my carrots are knee high: Huge robust plants that give the weeds a woopin.



    Those carrots are unbelievable.  I didn't order carrot seeds from you when I ordered my other seeds because I have had such bad luck growing them.  I'll be placing another order soon.
     
    John Weiland
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    Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
    I don't worry about the weeds either. ......I do it pragmatically, not for appearances. By the time a crop is 8 inches tall, I feel like it doesn't need to be weeded again.

    Also. I like weeding between rows with a lawnmower. A primary purpose of my weeding is to minimize propagules. So if I mow a weed patch just as it starts flowering, then it doesn't make seeds which is a great technique to save time next year. And it allows the weeds to generate fertility for next year.



    About the same for us.  Even with potential yield losses due to weed pressure, we weed early just to let the annuals get a head start, then pretty much stop by mid-summer.  Some weeding within the rows is done by hand or carefully done with a long or short-handled hoe.  Rototilling is used for weeding between rows when weeds are small and the soil hasn't yet compacted, and mowing keeps weeds down after that.  Lazy pulling of large pigweed, lambsquarter, and the rogue sunchoke among other things occurs throughout the rest of the season.  Some items like potatoes disappear completely into a cloud of weeds....after the vines have died back, you can't even tell where the hilled rows were.  But come harvest time, there's more than enough for storage.....just got done planting this year's rows and only used 1/3 of what was in the root cellar, so still have some good solid red potatoes for the coming weeks.
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    I save thousands of dollars per year by growing my own seeds.

     
    Eric Hanson
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    Last fall I began placing a large pile of leaves 2' tall x 6' wide x 15' long.  Along with the leaves, I added grass clippings.  I was hoping to get some more active decomposition over our short winters, but the piles did shrink a bit, got a little warm, and served as a worm magnet.  This had the effect of keeping the soil warmer over the winter, added worms to my beds and better still, gave me worm castings!!  Now I am in the process of getting comfrey established.
     
    Maureen Atsali
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    I agree with Joseph, saving seeds saves a lot of money, especially if you have big areas to plant.  I was spending 200 dollars or so on seed that was not well adapted to my climate and conditions. My yields improved considerably when I started my own seed breeding projects.
     
    Eric Hanson
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    Peter,

    I should have read this more clearly before I posted.  I saw that you are (quite understandably) trying to reduce your time spent weeding.  I have two thoughts for you. 

    The first option is basically free.  I am a teacher and as such I kill small forests with all of the paper I go through in a single semester.  I used to put all paper in the recycle container, but now I collect it and lay this down as a weed barrier.  Usually I cover the paper with straw or leaves but woodchips are a great alternative.  This combination kicks weed's buts.  They don't even germinate for lack of sunlight and if they did, they would never get through the paper.  I find that tests are great for the paper layer as they are 3-4 pages thick and make a substantial barrier.  Also, your woodchips would go further as they don't need to be very deep.  All they have to do is block a little sunlight and provide enough weight to keep the paper in place.  At the end of the season (or beginning depending on your preference), I just collect all the paper and chips and compost them.  That paper will break down pretty quickly.  Personally, I love this option as I am getting a "re-use/re-purpose" option as opposed to a recycle option.  You might very well be able to get free recycled paper from schools just for the asking

    The second option is to use a scuffle hoe like the one in the picture.  I used to hate weeding (which is why I concocted the tests-as-weed-barrier idea in the first place), but using one of these scuffle hoes is great.  I don't want to sound like an advertisement but they make weeding a piece of cake.  The hoe is absolutely razor sharp and glides just under the surface of the soil and severs the foliage from the root.  Done early enough and repeated occasionally, the weeds just give up.  Using this hoe gives me no back pain (and I have a bad back from previous injury) and is actually fun.  When I get out in the spring, just as weeds are starting to grow (about 1 inch tall) I go out, slice through the roots and decapitate the little weeds.  After a couple of repeats, the weeds just give up.  This year, my beds are all nice and clean.

    Best of all, you can certainly use both options.  Paper & woodchip the bulk of your garden (you don't need a deep layer here, just enough woodchips to hold everything in place) and then slice through weeds along the edge and you are done!  After I am done with the paper and woodchips I like to incorporate them into the soil and this is an extra bonus for me as my dense clay needs as much carbon as I can get into it.  I have been laying down the paper & woodchips (or leaves, or anything organic) for years and it really helps to keep my garden soil from drying out in the summer.  The little bit of hoeing is nothing like the weeding I once did.  If you like this idea, I can give you the URL for the hoe, but I am not certain what the Permies.com policy is on publicizing products.

    I wish you all the best and hope that I can offer you something of value.

    Eric
    IMG_5329.JPG
    [Thumbnail for IMG_5329.JPG]
    scuffle hoe
    IMG_5330.JPG
    [Thumbnail for IMG_5330.JPG]
    scuffle hoe edge
     
    chip sanft
    Posts: 380
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    I find a hook-shaped weeder really helpful. It makes it much easier to get more rhizome pulled out.
    http://www.redpigtools.com/Cape-Cod-Weeder-Rt_p_1191.html

    Between that and something like a scuffle hoe can save much time.
     
    Peter Hartman
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    Eric Hanson wrote:Peter,

    I should have read this more clearly before I posted.  I saw that you are (quite understandably) trying to reduce your time spent weeding.  I have two thoughts for you. 

    The first option is basically free.  I am a teacher and as such I kill small forests with all of the paper I go through in a single semester.  I used to put all paper in the recycle container, but now I collect it and lay this down as a weed barrier.  Usually I cover the paper with straw or leaves but woodchips are a great alternative.  This combination kicks weed's buts.  They don't even germinate for lack of sunlight and if they did, they would never get through the paper.  I find that tests are great for the paper layer as they are 3-4 pages thick and make a substantial barrier.  Also, your woodchips would go further as they don't need to be very deep.  All they have to do is block a little sunlight and provide enough weight to keep the paper in place.  At the end of the season (or beginning depending on your preference), I just collect all the paper and chips and compost them.  That paper will break down pretty quickly.  Personally, I love this option as I am getting a "re-use/re-purpose" option as opposed to a recycle option.  You might very well be able to get free recycled paper from schools just for the asking

    The second option is to use a scuffle hoe like the one in the picture.  I used to hate weeding (which is why I concocted the tests-as-weed-barrier idea in the first place), but using one of these scuffle hoes is great.  I don't want to sound like an advertisement but they make weeding a piece of cake.  The hoe is absolutely razor sharp and glides just under the surface of the soil and severs the foliage from the root.  Done early enough and repeated occasionally, the weeds just give up.  Using this hoe gives me no back pain (and I have a bad back from previous injury) and is actually fun.  When I get out in the spring, just as weeds are starting to grow (about 1 inch tall) I go out, slice through the roots and decapitate the little weeds.  After a couple of repeats, the weeds just give up.  This year, my beds are all nice and clean.

    Best of all, you can certainly use both options.  Paper & woodchip the bulk of your garden (you don't need a deep layer here, just enough woodchips to hold everything in place) and then slice through weeds along the edge and you are done!  After I am done with the paper and woodchips I like to incorporate them into the soil and this is an extra bonus for me as my dense clay needs as much carbon as I can get into it.  I have been laying down the paper & woodchips (or leaves, or anything organic) for years and it really helps to keep my garden soil from drying out in the summer.  The little bit of hoeing is nothing like the weeding I once did.  If you like this idea, I can give you the URL for the hoe, but I am not certain what the Permies.com policy is on publicizing products.

    I wish you all the best and hope that I can offer you something of value.

    Eric


    Eric that is great that you can put all that paper to use. This year we have been buying rolls of the brown construction paper from lowes. It is not super cheap but I value my time and laying this is fast and if it keep the weeds at bay for a year or 2 it will be worth it. I have seen those hoes before. I need to see if I can find/make one of those. Thanks for the reminder.
     
    Hans Quistorff
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    I use discarded carpet on top of my mulch. This works especially well for the pumpkins.  I have some that was removed bu cutting it in 3 to 4 foot strips. this works especially well between my raspberry rows. I am in the process now of rolling it up and putting down a new layer of grass I am cutting from the field and rolling the carpet back out.  On ground that has quack grass the rhizomes keep growing and growing looking for light. When I roll back the carpet I find coils of them but the original crown is exhausted or dead so they are easily raked out dried and burned.  Don't trust that they are dead, They have been known to come to life after hanging on a fence all summer.
     
    Grace Gierucki
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    Roger Rhodes wrote:I winter chickens in the garden.  This helps with everything but the bermuda grass. It has been the biggest battle.  I've now added a chicken moat around 3 sides of the garden to keep new grass from creeping in and we have used a broadfork to loosen what was left in the garden.  It is MUCH easier to pull then.  Once we have it pretty knocked out I expect much less effort needed.  I still have the option to "spot treat" with a few chickens in a small enclosure here and there in the garden throughout the growing season.  I leave all the clover and other misc. beneficials in the garden until I want to work them in or let the chickens eat them.

    Comfrey is good at shading out stuff too...btw


    You're my hero! This is where I'm trying to head but apparently I'm a slow learner And an even slower builder..
     
    John Alabarr
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    Eric

    Eric that is great that you can put all that paper to use. This year we have been buying rolls of the brown construction paper from lowes. It is not super cheap but I value my time and laying this is fast and if it keep the weeds at bay for a year or 2 it will be worth it. I have seen those hoes before. I need to see if I can find/make one of those. Thanks for the reminder.



    If you have a newspaper where they do the actual printing in your town, go there and ask if they have any "end rolls."  When they are printing the newspaper and the roll of paper gets low, they change it out rather than letting it run out.  Often times they will give these end rolls away.  Some charge, but its not very much.  This paper has a lot of uses.  You can use it in the garden.  You can cover your shop bench with it and change it when it gets dirty.  You can let your kids use it for painting and drawing.  When I was in a college drawing class the instructor gave us this tip.  I was able to get several end rolls from the local newspaper for free.
     
    Eric Hanson
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    Peter,

    I should have responded earlier but I was busy with final exams--more weed barrier!!  I included links for two companies that sell the same merchandise--I have purchased from both and they are both efficient and friendly.  I won't take a side as to which one is better, but I always look for a fiberglass handle if I can find one.  My hoe is the 6" one which is actually 5 .5 inches wide (sorta like lumber).  If I were doing this again, I would consider the 8" scuffle hoe, but there certainly is a range to select from.  Best luck weeding this year (or best--no weeding!!).  I have a nicely growing collection of these tools in different forms and they are unlike any other gardening tool that I have ever owned.  Very solid&sturdy, absolutely razor sharp (careful, you can easily cut yourself on the edges--I did!), and utterly unlike any stamped-steel copy I have ever owned.  The tools are just as good for digging as weeding and some do both well.

    Eric


    http://www.prohoe.com/scuffle_hoes.html

    https://roguehoe.com/scuffle-hoe/
     
    chip sanft
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    My favorite weed barrier is densely planted daikon -- it really works well, provided I get it in early enough.
    IMG_0239.JPG
    [Thumbnail for IMG_0239.JPG]
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    Here's a couple of photos showing the usefulness of corn for weed suppression the following growing season. The areas outlined in yellow are where I grew corn last year in this field. There are far fewer weeds in those areas.

    corn-weed-supression.jpg
    [Thumbnail for corn-weed-supression.jpg]
    Weed suppression using corn
    corn-weed-supression-2.jpg
    [Thumbnail for corn-weed-supression-2.jpg]
    Growing corn is a great way to minimize weeds
     
    Su Ba
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    How do I limit the amount of time spent each week? How do I reduce cash outlays? First of all, let it be known that I actually ENJOY working on my farm. People keep saying that they don't want to spend much time in their gardens, but I'm not like that. While planting a bed or sowing seeds, I often look up to watch the butterflies or birds for a few moments, or listen to the birdsong. I'll enjoy the smell of the moist soil, the breeze on my skin, the warmth of the sun on my face in the early morning. I work several hours a day on my farm, and that's fine with me.

    1- I use mulch to reduce watering, the saving both time and money. It takes time for me to haul water to the farm, although I have an ag catchment tank. But relying upon the ag tank alone wouldn't last me an extended dry spell. Hauling water not only takes time, but it costs money for gas and wear & tear on the truck. So the less water I have to haul, the more cash I save. I only pick up water when I'm passing the county taps, which happens 4 days a week when I need to go to town for other things, like produce deliveries.

    2- I use mulch to reduce weeds. Weeding takes up a lot of time. By using mulches, my weeding time is greatly reduced.

    3- I don't try to eliminate 100% of the weeds. This saves a bundle of time. The mulch takes care of the bulk of the weeds, so I just have to deal with the tropical grass, mostly. And rather than trying to dig or pull it out while a crop is growing, I'll either just cut the grass off just below the surface or cover it with a layer of mulch. It's much faster. When I redig the soil between crops, then I'll remove the grass roots at that time.

    4- I make my own mulching material. This saves money, but takes up time. But I have two places that pay me to mow their grass orchards, so I get paid to gather my mulch on those weeks.

    5- I produce quite a bit of my own seed and starts. Because I have a homestead farm, I'd say that I save hundreds of dollars every year this way. If you haven't noticed, seeds are getting expensive to buy.

    6- I produce my own fertilizer. While this saves me money, it does take up time. I make compost and gather my own livestock's manure. I maintain chickens, sheep, and a donkey for this purpose.

    7- I rely upon hand tools for part of my work rather than gasoline guzzling tools. This also saves on maintenance costs of the gas tools. My soil has improved to the point that it's actually faster to use a shovel on a bed than to bring out the rototiller. The tiller still gets used when it's advantageous, but I often reach for the old shovel. Farming with a tractor can't be done on my land, so that by itself is actually is a major cash savings. But on the down side, it means that I spend more time physically working.

    8- I aim to use "better than organic" methods, thus saving on herbacides and chemicals.

    9- I gather my own local resources, such as lava sand, coral sand, sea minerals. I don't buy my soil amendments. Plus I'm usually in the locale already when I gather inputs, so it's not an extra trip to make.

    10- I repurpose items rather than buy new, or buy used. I don't need to buy pots to start seeds in. I will clean them between plantings so that I get years of use out of them. And they were free in the first place. I check yard sales and rummage sales for items I can use for gardening. Plus I let local people know that I will take handouts. I've been given garden tools, hoses, seeds, fertilizer, garden totes, rolls of poly, shade cloth, etc. Although given freely, I always give the donors free eggs or veggies in exchange. This results in even more goodies heading my way.

    11- I have learned to repair my own gear when possible. And when I can't, I will try to barter for the repair. I recently got a lawnmower repaired for the price of a shopping bag full of assorted veggies and a dozen eggs for five weeks.
     
    Eric Hanson
    Posts: 34
    Location: Southern Illinois
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    Peter, and anyone else who weeds

    I attached a before and after set of pictures.  I used my 5&1/2 inch scuffle hoe from earlier posts.  It took less than 2 minutes to weed this patch and these weeds will be suppressed long enough for me to plant my tomatoes and then compost with tests (paper input) and whatever other mulch I can find.

    Eric
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    Before weeding
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    [Thumbnail for IMG_5332.JPG]
    After Weeding
     
    Wayne Veasey
    Posts: 12
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    chicken food preservation hunting
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    A couple things you can do to make gardening life easier:

    1) Use drip irrigation. It conserves water and you have less weeds because you're not watering the middles between rows like you would with overhead watering. Also, it alleviates pressure from plant diseases because it reduces leaf moisture, which is the source of many plant diseases. Bury the drip irrigation before planting and plant on top of the drip tape. This makes it easier to lay and easier to weed around plants.

    2) Weed before you see weeds. Weeds are there even if you can't see them. It's best to eliminate them while in the threadlike stage when they're not even visible to the naked eye. A wheel hoe is a great tool for weeding the middles between rows. A scuffle hoe or a push pull hoe (https://hosstools.com/product/push-pull-hoe/) is a great tool to weed between in-row plants.

    We use drip on almost every crop in our gardens and we typically go through them with a wheel hoe at least once a week. If it rains, we cultivate as soon as the soil dries enough to allow for it. It doesn't take very long and it's very effective in reducing weed pressure.
     
    J. Adams
    Posts: 37
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    Our poultry moat kept most enroaching weeds out (chickens, ducks and geese). A door in the moat allowed them into the growing area in winter and other times it was appropriate. So they eliminated the weeds initially, kept them from returning via the moat, then did "touch up" weeding now and then. Also, mowed fallen leaves into a bag and used the chopped leaves as mulch. Someone else here had a great suggestion if you don't use a mower -- stomp on bags of leaves to crush them. Neighbors gave us their bags of leaves, also.
     
    2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
    http://richsoil.com/pdc
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