Monday, June 30, 2008

What's New at the Farm, 6/25/08

Work continues at a feverish pace on the farm. Lots to do: tomatoes to trellis and prune, weeding and cultivating all our crops, cover crops going in and the ever present pests eating their way through the farm. Along with those activities are getting ready for the deer fence to be installed, last minute planting and transplanting and keeping the deer, turkeys and geese from eating what we’re trying to grow.

Last week I wrote about Hairy galinsoga so this week I’ll write about another hard to control weed: Purslane.

While closely related to the purslanes we sell, there are a few distinct differences, namely the ones we sell are bigger, more succulent and don’t make a nuisance of reseeding. Wild purslane in the field is a big nuisance. It forms a prostrate mat that can grow in the understory of our crops. You’d probably not know it was there unless you looked for it. Purslane spreads by seed and by stem pieces, so if you rototill it you’ve created lots more plants. Pulling purslane and leaving it on the soil surface doesn’t work either as it will reroot and/or just grow without any roots being in the soil. If you pull up the plants and toss them on black plastic, they will continue to grow and set seed without any soil.

The best method to get rid of wild purslane is to remove it from the field. It makes a good salad green and animals love it, especially chickens. Composting also works well. Unlike galinsoga, wild purslane doesn’t migrate into the fields nearly as bad. If you only have a few plants, pull them out and get them into the hen yard or compost pile and you will have the weed under control.

So in order to control weeds there are a few basic guidelines which need to be followed:

1. Identify the weed in question – what kind of weeds they are, what is their life cycle and what best to use for control? Will they be easily killed or do they require special attention? No need to kill galinsoga if there’s a frost coming in the next few days – better spend your energy on something else.

2. Kill weeds when they’re young; that’s the easiest time and you can kill thousands quite easily. Good scuffle hoeing will kill thousands of weeds in a relatively short amount of time; much faster than pulling thousands of weed individually.

3. Let no weed mature to the point of setting seed. Pull them out, cut them off or otherwise get rid of them before they set seed. Where you have one weed this year you could easily have a thousand next.

Until next week, I’ll be in the field.