Thursday, June 30, 2005


Wednesdays are usually a day at home for me, so yesterday I spent hours weeding. D likes tools and machinery for weeding, and while I agree that they have their place, for getting close to the plants you have to do it by hand. I made the kids do it for about an hour, but for the most part, it was hot, solitary work, and I ache today from the exertion.

We have been studying the weed book to learn more about the characteristics of our particular weeds. For example, some can produce up to 200,000 seeds PER PLANT—seeds that can remain viable in the soil for up to 40 years. Those are the ones you certainly want to destroy before they flower and go to seed.

These are some of my friends:
Foxtail—tricky, because they don’t germinate till late, after you’ve worked up the soil and think you have the weeds pretty much under control.

Lambsquarter—some of the most prolific seed-makers. D says you can eat the leaves like salad, and is tempted to bag some up for the farmers’ market. Let's just say that if I had a nickel for every one of these we're able to produce, I wouldn't have to win the lottery.

Burdock—these are the ones with big prickly burrs that attach to the dog’s fur (and your socks) in the fall. We have a lot of these in the area of the yard where I have sat and pulled them out of the dog. Big, tough leaves, difficult to root out, or kill even with Round-up.

Ragweed—looks innocent now, kind of attractive with its lacy leaves, but potent to so many breathers come September. Not to be confused with giant ragweed, which looks like a poinsettia.

Sourdock—deep, deep roots; you wonder if you’ve caused an earthquake somewhere after you’ve dislocated one of these. Also a big seed-maker; in fact, some are going to seed already.

Canadian Thistles—they actually get pokier after they die. (“Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”) Can be pulled out by grabbing the stem, especially below ground level.

And weeds are so deceitful—by late August, as the days get shorter, they KNOW the growing season is coming to an end, so even though they aren’t mature, they know it’s time to go to seed.

When you see the carpet of green between the rows of vegetables, it’s just overwhelming. How do you ever get control? D’s theory is keep working up the soil so the latent seeds germinate and the weeds sprout, then remove/cut off/kill them before they can re-seed themselves. Sounds good, in theory.

We’re not trying to be a “certified organic” farm, for several reasons, one being that although we are never going to be pesticide- or fertilizer-happy, we do reserve the right to chemically knock out some pest invasion that otherwise would destroy everything. We are trying to emphasize the “buy local” aspect of getting your food from us. Also, General Mills is going to be able to do "organic" better than small farmers, and place it in your local Piggly Wiggly at a lower price. I don't think that's what the organic farmers were envisioning when they lobbied for official government labeling.


I listened to a lot of bird noises as I worked, most of which I can’t identify. The killdeer are easy (more on these later), as is the redwing blackbird. D says we have a pheasant living near the creek, who makes a really odd gurgle.

Mostly I heard the incessant barking of the neighbors’ rottweilers. Who needs three rottweilers, especially when you have a couple preschoolers? I suspect drugs. One got loose as we biked past one day; apparently its name is a**hole, because that’s what they shouted at it, and it halted at the edge of their yard.