Saturday, November 7, 2015

Weed control without chemicals

Weeds... A blessing and a curse.

We actually use weeds. They have several beneficial aspects for soil and garden, as an integral part of natures regenerative cycle. Weeds are also very nutritious and inexpensive animal food. However, as beneficial as weeds are, they must be controlled. Too much too soon will stunt other plants, overtaking them in the race to survive.

Tilling and cultivating have mixed blessing as weed control. Heavy mixing of the soil may seem effective to kill weeds, but such actions also expose the seed bank of the soil to bring an explosion of weeds with the next watering. The end result possibly worse than the first.

Mulching helps, after sprouting, but is expensive at scale in both effort and resources.

Pre sprouting helps... But is slow and must be carefully planned.

Weeding manually is time consuming, especially at scale.

Tractor driven cultivators compact the soil, causing unseen damage, and cost diesel.

No till approaches simply do not scale well.

Chemicals... Even as a last resort. Even organically approved ones, are poison. Poison and food just do not mix.

So... What's left to control the explosion of beneficial but harmful weeds? We are exploring a new approach... Burning!exposing the soil and fresh weed sprouts to heat intense enough to kill the weeds without disturbing the soil.

We built a homemade weed burner from an old garden wagon and infrared propane heater. Initial tests are very impressive! It can cover much more ground with less labor than and manual weeding. It exposes no live weed seeds to sprout, leaves the seed bed untouched for immediate planting, cost only a couple dollars per hour to run, it is very controllable for consistent, straight weed free rows, and within hours, or even minutes, the destruction of weeds is obvious.

Our plan is...

Light tilling to prepare the seed bed
Water along the planting area to sprout all available weed seeds
Burn along the seed bed to kill all weed sprouts at or below the surface
Plant !

This weekend is our fist real go. Initial testing has been excitingly successful! Stay tuned for pictures and explanations!

posted from Bloggeroid

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