Left: We have two varieties of sunflowers. Tall with little heads, and these which are short with big heads.

Things learned:

Todd: Get up in the night, or the weeds might take over before morning!

It is a good thing that all of us feel strongly about going organic, as it would be tempting to take the easy route.

Weeds  (2011)  (by Mary)

Not an exciting title, a boring subject, but one of most importance. 

We had many conversations concerning growing a crop of anything in our lower field before giving it a try. They all ended with a question mark in our heads, as going organic doesn't allow one to apply Roundup until there is a blank slate to create on. We finally ended with a well-known solution which is to till and re-till the ground until a lot of the weed seeds are exposed before planting. I probably was more apprehensive than the rest. I always offered my scenario which was: even though we cultivate in-between rows, the row itself will have marijuana, thistles, or fake elderberry higher than our heads. The men thought we could hand pull those until the plants were able to take care of themselves. But, weeds tend to grow quickly, would shade the maturing plant, and the only plants I could think of that even grew that high was corn and sunflowers. Todd not only wanted to give it a try this year, but squared off an impossibly large area to do so.  

Todd's field garden is a beautiful thing to look at as I've mentioned in a previous entry. Without much prior experience, he set off to experiment in many areas that I will cover later. He was told that the size of his garden was crazy, a few times, but Larry and I are quite proud of him. As the season is coming to an end, we have to say that if he hadn't gone so big, it would have taken him at least another growing season to gain so much knowledge - which is a lot. 

During the summer, the goal of pulling the weeds until the plants could take care of themselves, changed. It became: don't let any weed go to seed so we have to deal with this again next year. Personally, I think there are still viable seeds in that dirt since Adam and Eve sinned, but...  So, he pulled and pulled, often ten 5 gallon packed buckets a day. Day after day.  

We worried that such a creative person would soon burn out by spending his time pulling weeds, so Larry & I helped a little when we were there, which gave Todd quite a lift. Once, Larry, Josh, Todd and I were on our hands and knees going between the corn rows. Then Allison joined us and the laughing began. Larry says he thinks her strategy was to talk the weeds to death!  

We were wrong about the type of weed that would be the problem. We do see a little marijuana plant, a tiny fake elderberry, or an occasional wild gourd, but where did that ground cover of red plants come from? They are called redroot pigweed and must be related to zucchini, as they literally grow a foot or more in just a few days. It is unbelievable unless you witness it.  

Before we left the farm, we noticed that the potato plants, which were mostly brown and fallen as the potatoes were ready for harvest, were full of redroot. We had pulled them when we first came and now they were high, again. Who would have thought anyone would still need to weed at this point? 

Yes, it is the beginnings of fall, the redroot still thrives, and Todd continues to pull. He also tills a buffer area around the outside of the bed, and keeps the weeds in the field mowed so as few seeds as possible can blow in. As always, we are already excited for the next growing season to come so we can see if his diligence has worked, and continue to experiment and learn new things.  

The field garden.


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