By Gary Pahl
The month of June brings the longest days of the year. June is also the wettest month. So what happens? The garden, filled with precious plants, grows the fastest and weeds begin to take over unless you stay on top of it. Weeds are the worst element for the garden. They will rob nutrients from other plants. The definition of a weed is any plant that you do not want in your garden specifically. Therefore, if you have corn planted in a field and you have volunteer soybeans coming up, the soybean is considered a weed.
There are different types of weeds just like different types of flowers. We have annual weeds and perennial weeds. An annual weed is considered to be like a velvetleaf, lambs quarter, or pigweed. Perennial weeds are like the Canadian thistle, milkweed, cocklebur, or numerous types of grasses.
For a commercial grower there are numerous types of different chemicals that can be applied at specific rates for specific crops before planting, before emergence or in the early growth of the plant stage. For the homeowner there are not that many options, matter of fact there are two options. One option is the application of preen, depending on the crop, it can be applied directly on cole crops, tomatoes, peppers. The other alternative is the mechanical hoe, run by you! There is no better therapy than to be in the garden hoeing out weeds. When it is done correctly it can eliminate weeds and break up the soil due to the compaction from rain. This adds oxygen into the soil. Thus, creating room for the root system to branch out and most importantly giving your plants the ability to take up the nutrients in the ground without competing with the weeds.
In our fields we generally cultivate once or twice and hoe once or twice depending on the crop. I cannot express the importance of maintaining a weed free field.
Here are some reasons for keeping a clean field:
• Nutrients go to the plants that we want
• Less bug and disease pressure (insects love weeds)
• Moisture is available for our crop
• Easier harvesting when the time comes