Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Precision Weeding

Sometimes weeding the vegetable garden can be like pulling teeth--literally.

Weeds are a fact of life for the organic gardener. No one's found a way yet to get rid of them entirely. Sometimes we are a bit careless in the way we make our compost and end up spreading grass seeds around the garden beds. This poses a special problem if, like me, you plant most of your vegetables directly into the ground, rather than starting them in flats elsewhere and transplanting them.

Sometimes the weeds appear in a riot of growth before the vegetables even get a chance to germinate. Or so it seems. In this case, I had planted eggplant seeds in an area that was very quickly taken over by crabgrass. Rather than pull out everything willy-nilly, I got my needlenose pliers to perform some close-in, surgical work.

With the pliers, I can get under the soil surface and take a good grip on the grass stem just above the roots. After a soaking rain, the weeds come out easily. Using the pliers is slow, but that forces me to look closely at everything I am pulling out of the ground. This is much more precise than anything my stubby fingers can do. I'm less likely to destroy my eggplant seedlings.

Yes, this kind of weeding takes patience. But after an hour's work, the entire bed is weed-free. Hopefully, I won't have to do this again any time soon.


Debbie said...

I can't wait to show this post to my 24 yr. old son when he arrives this weekend to help me put a fence around our garden. We weeded together last weekend and he made great fun of me the whole time. He said I was the slowest weeder he had ever met -and I was too picky. Wait until I show up with my pliers! :)

Ed Bruske said...

Debbie, I'm happy to make a small contribution in service to weeding.

Laura said...

Hey Ed. I thought of you and this post last night as I was weeding asparagus rows. Not quite with pliers, but almost as delicate since I needed to get the weeds out without destroying any new tender spears.

Your method I'm sure is more effective than mine - but I don't have that kind of patience... ;)

Ed Bruske said...

Laura, I notice grass coming up profusely where my new bed of bush beans is growing--the fun never ends.