What Weeds Can Teach Us

The summer crops are growing and getting big but they are not ready to be harvested yet.  We are still harvesting the wonderful spring crops: radishes, kale, collards, mustard greens, and more.

Harvesting radishes and kale for Friday's farmers' market

Harvesting radishes and kale for Friday’s farmers’ market

Right now lots of the fall crops have sprouted.  The potato plants have poked through the soil
along with the pumpkin vines.  I’m already imagining chilly fall nights at the dinner table with
hearty stews filled with potatoes, pumpkins, and other tasty fall crops.

We have been doing lots of weeding, with the warmer temperatures, the weeds are growing
quickly trying to out compete the vegetable crops.  Weeds are frustrating because they keep you
busy in the field when you’d rather be planting, harvesting, or just plain relaxing.  But weeds do
tell you about your soil and growing conditions.

For example at Quarter Acre Farm in certain parts of the field we have an abundance of dock,
a broadleaf weed that sends up a tall clustered seed head.  The dock indicates a high water table
and poorly drained soil.  We are continually adding organic matter to our soil and have begun to
plant crops that enjoy wet roots like celery in those areas.

Dock in the field

Dock in the field

Also like many people we have a lot of bindweed also known as morning glory, it grows low to
the ground and has white flowers.  Bindweed loves disturbed earth and tends to grow in heavy
compact clay soil.  Before each planting we add a combination of oyster shell lime and gypsum
to help loosen up the structure of the soil.
Weeds are not just there to annoy you, they are nature’s way of informing you about what your soil’s
needs are.  As you improve your soil and growing methods your weed problems will diminish.
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