The use of hoes

 In the cycle of a market gardening season, the end of cultivation work corresponds to the start of another long-term battle: weed control. Anyone who already has cultivated a vegetable garden knows very well how much vegetables can quickly disappear under a weed jungle. So, how to do to keep a half-hectare garden "clean" or more? Can we do this effectively using hand tools?

 First of all, it is important to know that weeds compete with vegetables for water, nutrients, and growth space. It is therefore wrong to think, as suggested by some philosophies of "natural" gardening, that it is possible to grow beautiful vegetables while letting the weeds coexist with the crops.

It is also unrealistic to imagine systems market gardeners who do not require weeding. The organic herbicides, however “natural” they may be, cannot be part of an ecological approach to vegetable production, because they are harmful to soil life. In organic farming, the fight against weeds requires persistence, good advanced tools, and techniques.

 At the Jardins de la Grelinette, our strategy for combating weeds is rather simple: we seek to prevent their proliferation and, above all, to effectively weed. We have adopted tight spacing not only to maximize harvests but also to reduce this invasion. As plants grow, they form a canopy that puts weeds in shade, which impairs their growth. We also use weed seed-free compost and tools that do not invert soil layers. By planting as many crops as possible, we also help keep weeds at bay. But all these preventive measures do not ensure sufficient control: we are still faced with the germination of weeds that threaten to suffocate our crops.

The strategy we use to keep in check grassing is therefore to weed our gardens the most regularly possible and never allow the weeds of a plot to go to seed. It's easier said than done, but in order to achieve it, we try to be efficient in all other tasks in order to free up the necessary time. We have also adopted different techniques, which I will discuss later, that help us achieve our goals.

 Keeping all your plots clean is not an easy goal, especially in early summer, when the harvests begin and the time available for work in the garden decreases as weed pressure increases. But the game is worth the effort. Over time, your rigor will bear fruit. Weeds will always continue to assail your Gardens, but perhaps with much less vigor. Attendance at the wedding is the only way to reduce the "seed bank" present in your soil.

The use of hoes

The best strategy to effectively weed his garden is to tackle weeds before they take hold and then a simple riddling of the earth destroys them easily. On a small market gardening surface, the tool par excellence pom doing this work is the hoe.

There are several smiley faces and different names to name similar tools. In our gardens, the hoes that we prefer are long-handled hoes with an oscillating blade with two sharp ends. These are Swiss-made tools, which can be handled with precision and which allow you to weed crops with your back always straight (which, in the long run, avoids stiffness and wear and tear on your body). We use 85 millimeters (3 1/4 ") hoes for crops having four or five rows on the board and others 125 millimeters (5 ") for weeding crops having two or three rows. We also use a wheeled hoe equipped with a 300-millimeter (12 ") knife for weeding one-row crops and for weeding alleys.

 Ideally, the plots to be maintained should be weeded every 10 to 15 days, especially during the months of June and July when the bad herbs are persistent and in strong competition with cultures. But we must also hold a weather forecast and wait for dry weather and sunny because the weeds have a tendency to re-root in soil wet. Hoeing carried out in bad conditions is often to resume a few days later. You should also know that when weed perennial or other weeds having passed the cotyledon stage, it is important to work with a sharp hoe blade so as to cut the roots of the plants to be uprooted.

Apart from a weekly blade grinding using an electric grinder, the best tool that we have found to keep our hoes always sharp is a carbide tooth that we hedge with us in the gardens.

 Many people can only imagine the use of a hand tool to weed on a large scale. the commercial is an efficient and productive solution. Yet it is. With a good hoe and with practice, a market gardener can become very adept at passing close to his crops without them. damage and quickly weed his plots by rarely bending over. The flexibility offered by manual weeding is, to a large extent, what allows tight spacing and intensification of our production. Tools adjust to our practice instead of defining it.

 In addition to eliminating weeds, weeding with a hoe is a special moment to come into contact with soil and crops. This task allows you to track gardens and refines the sense of observation. Over time, this allowed me to observe the vegetables at each stage of their development and learn a lot about plant biology. I don't think there is anything backward about working with a hoe, it's just a good way to maintain a garden market gardening. I will add that I never envied them market gardeners who weed their crops mechanically neither looked for a better way to do it.

Weeding by occultation

 One of the major obstacles to getting to keep all our own plots is that there are many. On our farm, the 10 cultivated plots represent a little less than one hectare and if it was necessary to weed the entire garden every week, I don't think we would get there. This is where the black tarpaulins treated against UV rays are very useful: they not only suppress weeds and prepare the beds before planting but can also use them to cover boards unused in order to prevent the proliferation of unwanted plants. We also observed that the ground cover with an opaque film (the tarpaulins that we use are black) decreases the weed pressure in a crop subsequent. The explanation is simple: weeds germinate quickly under the humidity and heat conditions that the tarp provides.

before being destroyed by the absence of light. This weeding technique called "occultation" is widely used by producers. organic products in Europe.

We use 6mm black tarps used for silage in our gardens for almost 10 years. I affirm without hesitation that they are partly responsible for the success of our business. It is a passive and efficient solution that allows us to manage to keep the site under control.

 The only flaw we find in them, apart from the fact whether they come from the petrochemical industry, is that they are sometimes heavy to move. We do we buy each year, in order to have one for each plot, which will save us to have to move them. Apart from this inconvenience minor, the advantages they give us far outweigh their disadvantages.