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Sun at last

Posted by Guy Barter on 01 Aug 2007 at 12:04 PM

Even after hoeing in June and then hand-weeding to winkle out survivors nestling in the rows, the wet July weather has brought up yet more weeds, that are growing like, well, weeds.  

So it is back to work with the hoe.  A little sun and the hoe regains its effectiveness, lost while the soil was wet and hoeing merely moved weeds without killing them. 

The soil is packed hard by rain.  While the soil is soggy and firm, an 8cm swan-necked hoe, an heirloom from my late father, was used to peck at weeds uprooting or, better, cutting them off.  Closely spaced lettuce and turnip seedlings are thinned by simply ‘chopping out' surplus seedlings and leaving them to wither.  Not pretty perhaps, but quick and effective.  

After the soil dries sufficiently not to clog up the blade, a Dutch push hoe is used.  It is quicker than hoes with a chopping action; disturbing the soil less, bringing fewer weeds to the surface and is more lethal to weeds. 

Closely spaced plants, salads, herbs and seedlings of artichokes, cardoons and asparagus, are grown on my raised-beds.  These have been ‘fleeced' to exclude birds and deer.  Plants here are too closely spaced to hoe, but hand-weeding is easy with gloved hand and a little sharpened onion-hoe and of course being raised are easy on my delicate back. 

At this time of year weeds are merely left to wither.  Ones from within the rows are hooked out to die between the rows.  The whole lot is raked up later, when any survivors are very obvious and can be eliminated. 

What I consider to be hot weather weeds, galinsoga, nettles and fat hen, have done relatively poorly so far this year, but wet cool weather weeds, annual meadow grass, chickweed and shepherd's purse have really thrived.  They do much less damage to crops than the ‘hot weather weeds' but it is important not to let them set seed or I will be in trouble in winter and next spring. 

With no rain forecast, uncropped areas have been treated with glyphosate weedkiller which needs at least six hours of dry weather to work.  

The mower was brought from home to the allotments and my share of paths and roadways mown.  Edges are quickly kept in order by treating with glyphosate, so that re-cutting them won't be too onerous next winter.

While I was at it some derelict allotments were mown as well.  Unless their owners pull their socks up by next month, they will be invited to clear their crops (such as they are) and belongings (which are all too numerous and often indistinguishable from rubbish) and invited to vacate their plots by the end of the year.  There are plenty of people on the waiting-list for an allotment. 

Planting the last few trays of plants is on hold while the weeds are dealt with.  One last push on planting and the hard work will be done for this year.  I cannot wait.

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