The dirt is my weed killer

Corn & GrassI use the dirt itself to kill weeds. Look at the picture on the left and you will see a row of sweet corn with small grass growing in among the corn plants. I have run the tiller between the rows and loosened the soil and chopped up the weeds and grass growing there. So I go down the rows with a hoe and pull the dirt in around the corn plants to cover the small weeds growing there. It works pretty well. The broadleaf weeds and grass have to be fairly small and the corn has to be a few inches high. But you can hill the soil up around the corn. it likes the whole process.

I started doing this a long time ago after driving a cultivating field corn with a tractor. At the time I think I did 6 rows at a time. You go rather slowly with a cultivator behind the tractor that is a series of small shovels. They are spaced on a bar to work the soil between the rows right up to the plants. They also move the soil into and around the corn plants as you go along on the tractor. You adjust your speed and depth of the cultivator to make sure you do not bury the corn. Also you have to pay close attention to make sure the cultivator does not just dig out the corn as you go along so it is an arduous job to do all day long. Farmers don’t do any cultivating now. At least the ones around here don’t. They rely entirely on chemicals to kill weeds. But, that is a whole other story and I do not want to get started on that.

This method of cultivation will work with green beans, okra, onions, or anything big enough to have some dirt piled up around it. It does not work well for young carrots because they are too small. I usually crawl along on the ground and pick the weeds out of those.

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Caring for Herbs

In general most herbs are relatively easy to grow and do not require much care. However that being said the degree of care is dependant upon several factors such as the environment, the herb itself, or type of garden (formal, informal, container, bed, indoor, or mixed use)

Soil Preparation and Planting

HerbsCheck the preferred soil conditions of your chosen herbs before planting. Many herbs thrive in well-drained, low nutrient soil. If your soil is heavy or clay, incorporate a low-fertility soil improver to improve drainage. Another alternative is to construct raised beds. A simple short-term solution is to add a couple of handfuls of sand or gravel to the bottom of the planting hole.

Other herbs, which require a more fertile soil, may benefit from the addition of medium soil improver. Remove any weeds, especially perennial weeds such as quack grass.

Maintenance

Remove flowering stems from shrubby herbs such as lavender, oregano and sage after flowering. Prune these herbs in the spring to control the size of the plant and to prevent them from becoming bare and woody at the base.

Always remove flowers if you want to harvest the maximum quality and quantity of leaves. Pinch off growing tips to encourage bushy growth, and cut out any plain shoots on variegating herbs. Established clumps of perennials are best divided every 2 – 3 yrs in the spring or autumn.

Propagation

Many herbs are easy to raise in the garden. Annuals such as basil and parsley are grown from seed. Some perennials such as chives and fennel are also raised from seed and may self sow. Some cultivated varieties do not always grow from seed or produce seed. In this case vegetative propagation is the only option- by cuttings, layering, or division, depending the species.

Invasive Herbs

Vigorous herbs will quickly take over a garden if left to its own devices. These species are excellent for growing in wild areas, where equally vigorous neighbors will control them. In other situations these types of herbs need to be restricted. Bury a large pot or bucket with the bottom removed or cut with extra drainage holes, and plant herbs inside the container. Cut back any vigorous growth and rotted creeping stems, and divide them every 2-3 years. Some invasive herbs are prolific, self-seeders. Remove flowerheads before seeds form, or hoe off the seedlings in spring.

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7 Ways to Control Weeds Without Chemicals

Weeds are frustrating to have and are sometimes even more frustrating to prevent. And though chemicals could sometimes seem like a great option in killing those pests once and for all, it may not be the most environmentally or safest option. Also, chemicals can be far more expensive than other safer methods (and some chemicals aren’t even as effective as non-chemical solutions). Therefore, the following are a few easy and effective methods in controlling and killing weeds.

1. Maintain your Soil

A healthy garden is a well protected garden, and this is especially true when it comes to deterring weeds from invading your backyard. A major factor in a healthy garden is obviously the soil quality, whether or not there are enough nutrients in them, whether or not the soil is able to retain enough water for plant use but not so much that the soil becomes overly moist. Though weeds can grow in practically any soil condition, regardless if the soil is filled with nutrients or not, ensuring that your soil is well maintained can ensure that the plants you do want surviving are able to grow and hopefully push out or even prevent weeds from growing in the first place. However, do keep in mind that over fertilizing your soil can be a huge invitation for weeds to come in, so use fertilizer sparingly and only when needed to help your pre-existing plants grow strong.

2. Use Mulch and Fabric

Like any other plant, weeds require sunlight to thrive, but if you’re able to make this precious resource less accessible, weeds will ultimately start dying off. If you do see a patch of soil that has an abundance of weeds, putting down some mulch can effectively prevent sunlight from reaching them. However, before buying mulch, ensure that there are no weed seeds present, as this can just lead to a re-emergence of weeds pretty quickly.

Cover Fabrics, much like mulch, is placed over weeds to smother them and prevent sunlight from penetrating down. Depending on the material used, the soil also can still have access to water and air to keep it healthy.

3. Limit Available Space

Weeds love to grow anywhere that has appropriate space. Therefore, growing thick lawns and numerous plants can help crowd out weeds from growing. Using appropriate amounts of fertilizer can also help in maintaining thick, lush lawns.

4. Use Flames or High Temperatures

Flame guns are extremely effective in scorching weeds that may be growing into between pavement or slabs or bricks. Though it does use propane gas, scorching can quickly destroy the weed and any seeds that may be found on ground level.

Also, if you intend on using destroyed weeds for compost, it is important to make sure that there are no live seeds mixed in with the weeds. To safely use dead weeds as compost, heating them up in a crock-pot or other heatable container can safely destroy any live seeds, allowing you to use the weeds for compost or even fertilizer.

5. Use Plastic Sheeting

Much like mulch and fabric, plastic sheeting can effectively prevent sunlight from reaching the weeds, as well as preventing water from seeping down to the root structures. However, one disadvantage of using plastic sheeting is that a few chemicals may end up seeping out of the plastic and into the soil, so only use this if absolutely needed. But if you’re trying to be truly chemical free, avoiding plastic sheeting may be best.

6. Hoeing and Tilling

Smaller weeds that are truly relegated to the top layers of soil can be easily dislodged and taken care of with gentle strokes. However, attempting to hoe into the deeper levels of soil may only cause more problems than you originally intended. Seeds that are dormant normally reside in the deeper levels of soil, and hoeing these parts may only bring them up to the surface, causing more weeds to grow.
Much like hoeing, tilling is also able to manage small weed populations but should be done so with extreme care. In an attempt to push seeds further into the soil, tilling may cycle dormant seeds up to the surface, making your efforts a frustrating time waster. Regardless if you attempt to hoe or till your soil, do so carefully so as to not bring out dormant seeds.

7. Vinegar

Vinegar is great in drying out weeds if applied over the course of two weeks. Mixing a bit with dish soap and using a spray bottle to apply the mixture onto weeds is extremely effective, regardless of how hot it is outside. However, make sure to not accidentally spray the solution onto plants that you want, as it can potentially kill any plant that it comes in contact with.

Killing Specific Weeds

If you want to kill weeds, you have to do a bit of research to figure out what conditions are favorable for weed growth. For example, a common and extremely frustrating weed to have in one’s garden is the Creeping Charlie. Unlike most weeds, the creeping charlie preferentially grows in areas of shade and extremely moist soils. Therefore, to prevent such a weed, getting rid of shady areas is a must and having a good way to re-direct excess rainwater away from your garden is also a good idea.

Final Thoughts

Getting rid of weeds can certainly be a headache, so much so that it may often seem like a good idea to just use a few chemicals to get rid of the problem. However, these chemicals could permanently damage your soil. Luckily, there are many natural, non-chemical methods in safely and quickly removing weeds. Also, if you have a specific weed problem, do a bit of research to understand what conditions the weeds prefer to grow in. Having some knowledge before tackling weeds will definitely save a lot of time and energy in the long run.

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How to build greenhouse or hoop house

When deciding whether to purchase a greenhouse or a hoop house two factors need to be considered, budget and the size of the structure you want to build. The biggest difference is cost. If space is limited and only a small structure is possible, than a green house is the better choice. They are more pleasing to look at and require less maintenance, and give the best light transmission. With larger structures over 200 sqft. (20 sq meters) a hoop house is the best choice for cost-effective food production.

Glass is transparent and admits more light than plastic, warms the house more quickly and retains heat longer. Plants, particularly those with high light requirements such as tomatoes, grow better under glass than plastic. Glass lasts indefinitely, while plastic becomes brittle and breaks down with age.

What Size Greenhouse – A popular size is 6ft. (1.8 meter) wide by 8ft(2.4 meter) long. A path 2 ft (60cm) wide down the middle allows 2 ft. (60cm) on each side for plants.. A better size is 8ft(2.4meter) wide by 6ft(1.8 meter) long. This arrangement allows for 3 ft(90 cm) on either side of a shorter path, giving additional plant space.

Where space is limited, a lean-to greenhouse maybe an option. The problem of lack of light on one side can be generally alleviated by painting the wall of the inside of the greenhouse white. A sunny wall is best for a general purpose greenhouse. A lean-to greenhouse on a wall that does not get direct sunlight is good for cuttings, ferns or plants whose natural habitat is the forest floor.

Materials for Greenhouse Frames – The most commonly used materials are wood and aluminum. Aluminum is light and strong and is low maintenance. Aluminum greenhouses vary considerably in quality. In poorer quality greenhouses the glazing bars consist of T-sections. The better quality aluminum greenhouses consist of H-sections.

If you are considering a wooden greenhouse the best choice is cedar. Cedar is very durable and does not require toxic wood preservatives. It is a good choice if you can be sure it comes from sustainable, managed source. Wood is a better insulator than aluminum, but the thicker glazing bars required block more light.

Greenhouse Glazing- Glass is the most common glazing material, tempered for safety, if necessary. An alternative is polycarbonate plastic- a twin walled, lightweight, tough material that provides good insulation. The biggest negative of this material is it is not see-through, and only allows 85% light transmission as opposed to 97% for glass.

Adequate vents– for good air circulation and temperature control are vital. An automatic vent opening system is a worth while investment. Unexpected sun, even in spring can cause a rapid temperature rise if vents are closed, and plants can suffer. With the spiraling costs of produce a greenhouse is a great way to grow produce or fruit year around.

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