There are two kinds of gardens.
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.
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….
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'.
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?
Tomato Garlic Salad
I prefer to make this with cherry or grape tomatoes (from my garden) but any, fresh, vine-ripened tomato will work. I make it on Sunday, we have some every night and I just add more tomatoes to it all week as they ripen, – starting fresh whenever we finish it all…
1/2 cup (3oz, 90gr) red cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup (3oz, 90gr) yellow cherry tomatoes
1 tbs fresh basil, snipped
1 tbs fresh chives, snipped
3 cloves garlic
2 tbs olive oil – good stuff
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt – sea salt if you have it.
Finely mince garlic. Put garlic and oil in a small serving bowl and let rest while you deal with the tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in half (that was tough). Snip herbs. Add both to garlic oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir gently. This is good today, better tomorrow.
Next week: Compost