I may spray (vinegar+borax+salt) to murder them on the paths and gravel surrounds, but among the veg I'm tolerant because I know if I pull-a-weed I am sure to remove more than I planned.
If you are planning to pull, I say, do so only after good rain.
But then, why pull at all?
I've not found a weed* that cannot be drowned in mulch or smothered in some form of fabric. Since I'm importing weed seeds into my garden every other day when spreading grass clippings, I do know what I'm talking about.
I turn the weeds on themselves such that they suffocate their own siblings.
Weed on weed.
Generally, I'm getting weeds where I can't mulch -- like where the carpet edge I lay out as pathway meets the garden 'beds' (such as they are). But elsewhere, weeds seldom raise their heads above the covers.
Even the running grasses(as in Brisbane 'lawn') with their tenacious root systems will die off and shrink back after many months of mulching.
Patience is all.
But weeding as a pastime is something I haven't been able to avoid in the school garden...That's because we are running to different gardening protocols than my own outback. So I got the team a Cyclone Courtyard Cultivator / Hoe (pictured right) and it makes for light work. I was looking for a hoe with slicing action undercut via a shallow blade, but this long handled hand tool from Cyclone works a treat. You can't see it clearly from the image , but the head has two optional counterposing tool sets: fork and blade. The ergonomics and efficiencies seem much better than your full length handle hoe.You can work quickly with a steady technique as the pivoting at the hand allows for easy targeting and shallow soil disturbance.
At home I've used another soil disturber tool -- the Ho Mi Little Hoe (Asian Hand Cultivator/pictured left) -- but it is demanding both of energy and earth. I tried to strap this to a longer handle but its action approach doesn't work at that distance.
Outback--in my place -- my norm has been to use a trowel to dig plant out holes...and a pair of scissors.
While I use scissors to cut twine for trellising, I also use scissors to trim greenery. I may revert to secateurs to trim back trees with their woody stems, but I'd be lost without my Fiskars scissors.
And here's the drum, the irony: I now use my scissors to weed. Indeed when a plant I don't want to live is 'existing' above the mulch layer, I cut it off at its base with my trusty pair of Fiskars. The plant -- weed or vegetable -- is decapitated, while the the roots remain in situ and undisturbed..
And once cut, the same tool can be used to chop up the stems for mulch.
Does this approach work? So far so good.Any certified nasties that play the zombie and come back as walking dead, I simply cut off again.
In the weed cutting community -- as distinct from the weed removing one -- sickles are all the rage.There are many sizes of sickles to choose from but I find the pivot arc they require too broad a swing for my garden beds. With the small ones , the flick-and-drag action I also find a tad conducive to RSI.
Scissors are too --and secateurs are even worse (except for those with rolling handles)-- but with scissors you get to target your action to specific plants. So long as the tissues are soft it's easy: snip! No wasteful actions.
One of the reasons we sentence our vegetable gardens to beds and rows is so we can weed between the plants. If/when you go obsessively polycultural like I have, you don't have the luxury of 'order' among the green things, let along 'spacing'. Intervention is much more complicated as so many different plants are cheek to jowl.
So you want to get in, snip...and get out. Like a barber after a nose hair.
After coming from a pulling habit, the transition to snip! gardening is a hard ask. But I had an epiphany early last year when asked to weed the beds at the Green P Farm in Deagon. By the time I'd completed my allocated task, I'd uprooted a good percentage of the vegetables in the row.
So I now say to myself, " In this glorious age of microbe farming you gotta respect the grass roots -- even when they're dead."
Especially when they're dead.
Let sleeping weeds lie.
It took me a while to get a handle on this logic but I have learnt so much by studying Rotational Grazing: art and science.
I tells ya, herbivores know.
The pieces fitted together much more for me by comprehending 'grass' (aka 'weeds') in a paddock rather than trying to comprehend vegetables in a garden bed.
Trimming weeds at their base may seem a shallow response to the problem of their infestation, but there is method in the habit...as any green keeper knows.
Indeed, what you want to become is a root wrangler.
*'not found a weed': maybe Wandering jew or trad(Tradescantia albiflora) is an exception.
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