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Weeding - generic  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 750
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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I want a generic thread for weeding ... where all strategies and ingenious ideas can be offered.  So here it is.  My first query is, has anyone used a 'CULINARY TORCH', i.e., small butane torch for browning creme brulee, etc., to kill tender spring weeds... in a wet environment - spring.  I'm urban so don't have acres to weed.  The heat gun will do the job, more or less, eventually, but I'm wondering if this is more effective.  (I may get one that is returnable if it fails, and report back on my experience.)

(Yes, I know, and I feel guilty - 'only plants in wrong place', 'problem is solution', etc, all true, for the most part, but in the not-most parts, some of us have to weed : )
 
pollinator
Posts: 1342
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I've used a Weed Dragon, which is one of the flamers using a 5 gallon propane tank. Lots of BTUs. Even so, it's only really effective on extremely tender type weeds or very young seedlings. I tried a lot of different situations, and now I only use the flamer on those tiny seedlings that are just sprouted. Come to think about it, I'm only using it on larger garden beds, the ones that I tilled a week or do ago and I'm seeing weeds seedlings sprouting. Sometimes I don't get around to sowing or planting a freshly prepared bed right away.

I tried my darnedest to convince myself that flaming worked to keep my fenceline so clear. It worked ok on new weeds, but my tropical grasses are aggressive travelers. The flamer couldn't keep them down without burning up a lot of propane and my time.

The flamer doesn't work well on established weeds nor grasses. It's best for those tender newly sprouted seedlings. I'm guessing that the handheld butane torch would work for small areas.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1342
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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My current favorite weeding methods......

...mulching
...pull/chop and add to the compost pile, hugelpit, or chicken pen (then apply mulch so that I don't have to repeatedly reweed.
...flaming newly sprouted weeds in a garden bed I'm preparing to plant
 
nancy sutton
pollinator
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Thanks, Su Ba.  I agree that the heat gun only worked on tiny annual seedling weeds... like the swathes of them that pop up with winter rains.  

Here in the PNW, my worst perennials are bindweed and quack grass.  For those I just repeat clip at ground level (bindweed) and dig roots up (quack grass).  (Oh, I forgot English ivy, which has spread all over in the last decade or so... for that I just cut/prune back/down, and use the 'pads' of vines as a thick biomass mulch...plus smells so sweet when sitting in it clipping away :)  

And I use mulch also...I gather leaves up (just got a $25 light wt 'dolly' w/ oversize tires to bring pl trash cans of leaves to the van), and chips when I can find them where I can drive up to them (too old to wheelbarrow piled chips up from the street anymore).  And just got lucky with a neighbor who put 2 entire yards into grass (doesn't use chemical stuff), and gives me the clippings... he's my 'mulch farmer'.  

Plus, for areas that I can't get to (time- or reach-wise) I do use silt fabric...yes, it's plastic, but I'm not pure : )  It's woven, so water and air pass through, is UV resistant so doesn't break up, lasts 'forever' (in my experience), sometimes discarded at building sites, and not too expensive, etc.  It's used by most 'organic' market farmers - Curtis Stone, J.M.Fortier, orchardist Sobokowski etc - this is NOT impervious black visqueen/plastic, or 'spun' 'landscape fabric' [which grass comes right through ... been there, ugh!], etc).

I'm looking forward to chickens again, and reducing the weeding workload to pleasant sitting-on-the-stool chicken feed collection :)

 
pollinator
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Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
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Is a steam weeder the way to go for tough (especially perennial) weeds? I've got this half-baked idea of a small rocket stove on a cart which heats a boiler. It would require some safety mechanisms, to be sure, but I'm thinking of our councils who go around doing all the footpaths and verges a few times a year. I get so tired of seeing the cycle of grass -> Roundup -> death -> weeds -> Roundup ad infinitum.
 
pollinator
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Location: SF Bay Area
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While I've never tried weeding with a blow torch, I would try that, if you have one already like I do, rather than a culinary torch. We didn't even use culinary torches in restaurants for creme brulee. We used regular blow torches.

In areas that I never grow things, walkways, cracks in concrete etc., I like boiling water, typically already used for cooking.
 
Posts: 156
Location: NNSW Australia
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The [annual] weeds tell me a lot about the soil profile.
This one likes compaction, that one prefers disturbed soil.

They're fast growing mulch right where its needed and are often especially rich in trace minerals - which brew into funky compost-teas or can directly feed the soil life.

Other methods for slowing/stopping weeds include stomping (note: encourages future weed growth) or laying out Just enough wood ash to kill the weeds without messing up the soil chemistry (best done in dry weather). [Then plant tomatoes]

If weeds or grass come up through mulch, try compacting the mulch - tuck it into itself to provide an impenetrable matrix. Or keep it wet so it sogs down into a heavy bulk.
Leave a brick on the stem of tough perennials - excludes water and cooks the weed where it contacts.

I've found that nutgrass, a recalcitrant, hard-to-pull weed actually loses vigour if you apply a lot of semi-fresh cow manure. Its easier to pull up and experiences some dieback (in the short-term).
I imagine wild fluctuations in other nutrients could also unsettle various weeds.

Outcompeting and shading out weedy areas with vigorous plants can lessen the required maintenance.
Sweet potato and cassava are popular choices in my area.

Many weeds are the most nutritious green you can grow and others (like Sida sp.) are really valuable in the medicine cabinet or make quality forage for animals.
 
steward
Posts: 4006
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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The strategy that I have adopted at my farm is to plant crops in ways that minimize competition from weeds. Then I do the minimal amount of weeding necessary to harvest a crop. The weeds are providing biomass to the garden. They are feeding the insects, microbes, fungi, and larger animals. They are shading the soil, and minimizing the growth of other weeds. And they are free propagules that are highly locally-adapted. Many of my current weeds are edible, even highly palatable and nutritious. As a plant breeder, I claim that growing lots of weeds is a "feature" of my breeding programs, because I want to select for crops that thrive, in spite of competition from weeds.

Sure there are a few species of weeds that are banned from my farm: Burdock, because of the fierce burrs, and Goathead Puncture Vine, because I live habitually barefoot. Anything else is more or less allowed to grow to some degree or other.
 
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