Tomato Garlic Salad; Gardening, part 2: Weeds

Tomato Garlic SaladTomato_salad

There are two kinds of gardens.

1. A fresh, clean, new garden.  A spot is chosen, the top bit of ground, with all the growing stuff, is removed, a load of fresh, rich black topsoil is brought in, distributed, raked and: Voila! It’s a garden.

The soil is easy to work with and there are no old weeds to contend with.

Our allotment (community garden) in Andorra was like that.  Of course, knowing the Andorrans, it could have been sprayed with every commercial weed killer known to get it that way…. I choose not to go there.

2. The ‘make do with what you have’ garden.  A spot is chosen, the ground is turned over, either by hand (with a spade) or using a roto-tiller, with the top bit of ground being buried in place.  This exposes the roots of all the growing stuff to the air, which, hopefully, will kill them, and lets the tops decompose in the soil, adding nutrients.  Ideally, the ground should be turned 2 or 3 times at 2 or 3 week intervals to insure that all of the weeds are gone.  They never are.

There are two kinds of weeds.

1. The annual weed; the seeds blown in on the wind to take root in your fresh new garden.

Annual weeds are easy to control but impossible to prevent.

2. The perennial weed.  It’s been in your garden for centuries, getting bigger and stronger every year.  You can’t pull it out because the roots go to the center of the earth.  When you cut it, with the spade or roto-tiller, it produces 2 new plants for every one cut.

Perennial weeds are difficult to control but can be killed.  Once killed they’re unlikely to be back.

The absolutely very best, guaranteed to work every time, foolproof, simplest way to control both types of weeds is….

Hoe.

Once a week, get out your trusty hoe and…. Hoe.

This accomplishes several things.  If your garden has visible weeds:

1. Hoeing disturbs or cuts the annual weeds.  No need to remove them.  If they happen to take root  you’ll get them again next week.  Leave them in the ground to decompose.  Yes, your garden will look a little messy at first, but it will pass.  Why make extra, unnecessary work?

2. Hoeing cuts the perennial weeds.  As noted above, not only does this not kill them, but can cause 2 to sprout where one was.  Next week, when you hoe, you’ll cut them again.  Keep this up and, eventually, you’ll weaken the plant (it won’t get to the sunlight) and it will die.

After 2 weeks of hoeing you should not see any weeds, dead or alive.

This is the critical part: Keep hoeing!

By now, the ground is easy to work and the weeds are gone.  Wielding the hoe is less work but you may be tempted to quit because it all looks so nice, so pristine, so (as the French say) ‘propre’.

Don’t!

1. The seeds of the annual weeds blow in every day.  In one week they may take root, but if you hoe they don’t have a chance to grow.  In 2 weeks they do.

2. The perennial weeds may almost reach the surface in one week, but if you hoe you’ll cut them off before they emerge.  In 2 weeks, it’s too late.

Once you get the ground loose it takes very little time to hoe.  And the loose dirt forms a mulch around your plants keeping moisture in – an added bonus in dry weather.

Two more points to keep the weekly hoeing easy:

1. Try not to walk where you have hoed.  I always leave a central path free of planting so I have a hard place to walk to tend the garden, do the watering, etc.  Have more than one if your garden is very large.  Tend the garden, trimming, thinning, etc. before you hoe.

2. There is a lot more to hoe when the garden is young.  If you have done a good job, by the time you are harvesting you are also done hoeing.  The plants are big, shading the ground and preventing new weeds from starting.  If I spend 2 hours per week hoeing in June, it’s down to an hour in July as the plants grow, and 15 minutes if at all in August.  And I have a big garden.

Look at the early hoeing as an investment in easy, weedless harvesting.

As to harvesting…. What to do with the millions of little tomatoes produced by the 3 plants you have?

The recipe, Tomato Garlic Salad, has been updated, nutrition information added, and re-posted here: Cherry Tomato Salad.

Next week: Compost

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6 thoughts on “Tomato Garlic Salad; Gardening, part 2: Weeds”

  1. KATIE, KATIE, KATIE…WHERE WERE YOU WITH THIS VALUABLE BIT OF INFORMATION WHEN I TRULY NEEDED YOU A FEW WEEKS AGO???
    I would weed for hours, taking care to pick out every teeny, tiny, weed. Two days later, it would look like I never touched it! Living in the middle of empty fields, where the wind blows even on the calmest of days, I can attest to the fact that the weed seeds are in the very air we breathe!
    Gotta go….got some hoe-ing to do!

  2. Ah, Katie – I’ve got to plant in containers where I live, so I no longer use the hoe. I still have one, of course – how could I not? But it’s sadly under used.
    But when my cherry tomatoes ripen, I will definitely make this salad, which lovely, fresh and uncomplicated.

  3. Sorry, Cindy, story of my life – always late…
    Anh, find a good market and pretend ;-))
    Elizabeth, it’s only 7 plants… I used to have 30!
    Tanna, we will have no corn this year… I planted, some thing ate each one as it got to 6 inches.
    Toni, containers are good – not hoeing is good (If you don’t have to)

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