July 19, 2008

Well, it’s pretty much mid-summer, and there is so much to do that it’s impossible to do it all…..tonight Ken and I were working outside on the main row crop garden, which was losing ground to weeds. A few days ago, all the weeds were cut down with a weed-whacker. Tonight there was much burning and spraying of roundup in the fallow rows with no vegetables. We are rototilling between the rows to cultivate out those weeds…mostly a plague of crabgrass. We are paying the price for our poor weed control of the garden last summer, when most weeds had a chance to fully go to seed. But, I can’t be too hard on myself, since at the time I was working fulltime at UC Davis in addition to trying to farm. Anyway, I did my part to worsen the local air pollution for the night. While I feel somewhat about the smoke, fire is a valuable tool to managing a garden. It destroys weed seeds, pathogens, and restores nutrients to the soil. It’s actually one of the best control methods possible for weeds on the scale that we grow, and it beats paying Monsanto for even more Roundup. I really look forward to the day that we can come up with a weed control system that eliminates the use of herbicide, but we’re not there just yet. My big idea is that in about 2-3 weeks from now, the weeds will be crispy-dead. I am going to pay for a truck-load of compost, many, many tons, which will cost somewhere around $700. We will rake the dead weeds off the rows and top-dress the rows with about 3-4" of compost, and then call it ready for fall planting. No disturbance of the soil tilth, and the compost will act as a form of weed suppression. To me, it’s a win-win situation.