Thursday, July 13, 2006

# 0232Total Allotment Time: 2hrs
Principle Tasks: Lightly forking over soil newly exposed from under plastic sheeting to remove any remaining weed roots as in recent posts. Hoeing. Grubbing up phacelia green manure from temporary growing area.


Jimmy said...


Six weeks could see a good crop of Phacelia and enhance the soil - get planting!!!

Never mind the horsetails they can grow through the crops and it really makes only a small cosmetic difference. Have you considered the enhanced soil fertility might just not suit the horsetails?

The traditional methods of getting rid of weeds were potatoes and pigs. So you have two options - shade them out or dig them out. Which do you think is easiest? I know what I would do but I suspect you will chose the dig method.

Weedkiller. Why not use weedkiller? Yeh, yeh, it is not bug freindly - or is it. What if you used sodium chlorate? Would that break down to salt (Sodium Chloride) and very quickly leave the soil? Just a thought.

If you stick with the hoe (and keep it razor sharp) it should very quickly weaken the hoesetails. Did I mention I have a very nice crop of horsetails in my garden.


Rita M said...

Pffff - Weeding out Horsetail!
There are a lot of them in my new garden . Nice work Tim

Tim said...

Hi Jimmy. Maybe :o) (Out of interest, did you get to read my first reply to your last comment before you posted this?).

I've come to the conclusion that there are basically two philosophies (far too grand a term) behind how folk approach gardening (and interestingly my neighbours to the left and right of me illustrate this nicely).

My fellow 'newbies' to the left as I enter my gate are following the much more prevalent thinking behind gardening, which is nicely summed up in their own words, and goes: "It's got two choices, if it lives, it lives, if it dies, it dies". I've nothing against this approach (if people care for the soil by adding compost, that is, which sadly more often not the case), but my other (longer established) neighbour is, I think, more of the school of thought that goes: "The plants under my care will have little choice other than to thrive" :o)

Now, and I make no apologies for this whatsoever, I'm most definately in this second school. Where the organic movement has gone astray (imho) is that it's allowed people to think that to garden organically (and please don't get me wrong, I'm on a steep learning course myself, and have (and will no doubt) continue to make less than 100% eco-friendly choices) means that the plants under your care will struggle, grow less strongly, and be more prone to pests and diseases. I hope to prove this is nonsense.

Tim said...

I do 'mind the Horsetails' within the 'growing area' of my plot, as they are taking mositure and nutrients away from the crops I am nurturing to try an rely less on intensivly grown vegetables (the ones generally within my price range) brought in shops.

The species of Equisetum in question is very common hereabouts and I have no fears whatsoever over it's long term ability to survive in the wild. One of the first plants on the planet, I fully expect it will turn out to be one of the last!

Add salt to the soil! (and in quantity enough to kill plants on a large scale, to boot!!). I've heard it used as a 'spot weedkiller' before, but not as a general one. Saddam Hussein applied salt to the land in the care of his enemies because he new it would take generations for it to recover!

Chemical weedkiller, never! You might be someone who trusts what you read on the side of a packet of the stuff (if you are one of the few who actually read the labels, that is) but what you have to remember is that you are not 'trusting to science', you are rather 'trusting to the men who sell science', which is an entirely different thing. A trustworthy scientist would never claim that something is "100% safe to use", they would rather use words like "Safe to use within known parameters". When did you last see this written on a label?! On an aside, when you buy a foodstuff containing 'Modified Maize' (or similar) I hope you realise this means 'Genetically Modified', but the powers in charge have allowed companies (those men who sell us science) to avoid telling the whole truth. It's widely accepted that the long term effects of GM foodstuffs are unknown - but, hell, when there's a profit to be made..

When I'm given scope to rant.. :o)

Hoping this isn't a sign of things to come,

Best Regards,

Tim said...

Hi Rita! Thanks for posting!

A forlorn hope I realise (take a look at that photo I'm about to post!) but I'm determined to give the plants in my care the very best of circumstances, which means that the Horsetail will have to survive elsewhere :o) The area of land I'm looking after only actually measures just over 118 square metres, which might sound impressive, but is only really the size of a slightly above average front garden. The Horsetail (and dependent species) will cope without this :o)

Cheers again,

Tim said...

Apologies there, Jimmy, for misreading you over the salt. I've not heard of using Sodium chlorate before (or have forgotton hearing) but I still don't like the thought of it. The method I've adopted (primarily light exclusion, now hoeing) might look drastic, but I'm glad to report that the soil hasn't suffered to any noticable extent (I'm still finding earthworms in this last stretch) and I would worry for it/them if I was to use inorganic chemicals.

I wouldn't be able to hoe if I was to re-sow the Phacelia (or another cover crop). Even if I was to sow it in rows, I would find I would be having to get down on my hands and knees to weed amongst it every other day (like I am on my veg strip) which is very time consuming. Six weeks will simply fly by. Please don't judge me until after three seasons at least. I'm hoping for a quite a change even by next spring. Lots of insect-friendly companion planting and loads of veg. Bare soil, never again!

Tim :o)x

Tim said...

PS. Pigs would indeed be an ideal solution to the perennial weed problem, but on an open site allotment they're a no go. Potatoes fail miserably at clearing Horsetail (as my neighbours have proved).

I have actually gone for a mix of both techniques. I was hoping the shade method would work (8 months of the plastic and 4 months of the Phacelia!) but as it hasn't, I've had to continue forking it out. Again, this year was always going to be an odd one, and I assure you that digging (on anything like this scale) will be a thing of the past for me from next spring onwards - as my blog intro says.

Hope this covers everything,

Tim :o)x