Weeds - the eternal problem of every gardener. And although everything in nature is natural and logical, we can not accept their existence on our plot - they interfere with the lives of cultivated plants. Therefore, the lion's share of labor and time at the cottage, we devote to the fight against weeds. This is probably the hardest and most unpleasant physical work we have to do in the garden. But is it really necessary? In this article, let's look at traditional and organic methods of weed control. Which method is better? And is it so necessary to achieve a sterile cleanliness on the plot?
- On weeds and cloggers
- Traditional methods of weed control
- Methods of organic agriculture against weeds
- To fight or get along?
About weeds and weed killers
It is difficult to give a precise definition of what weeds are. We are used to calling all plants that have grown out of place as such. And even last year's siderat, spontaneously growing on the bed next to the sown parsley or lettuce, in the current year we perceive as a weed. Raspberries, which climbs where they are not asked, is also a weed? It seems to be a cultivated plant, but so insolent that in the wrong place it is more difficult to remove it than wheatgrass. Cultivated species that sprout on the site without our blessing are called weeds.
And what are the classic weeds? As a rule, this group of plants includes wild species that are particularly resilient and aggressive in the development of new territories. The following factors ensure their power:
- Weeds are very fruitful on envy - they form a lot of seeds
- Their seeds are extremely vital - they keep germinating for several years in the soil;
- They reproduce by all possible ways, including vegetative.
Unfortunately, cultivated plants do not possess even one-tenth of weed viability. Leaving them to grow in each other's mutual company means relying on the mercy of weeds, which are sure to leave our pets no chance. So the "holy war" of gardeners with weeds has no end and no end in sight. And the victory of gardeners in it is always temporary.
Traditional methods of weed control
"Holy war" is more from the history of adherents of traditional methods of agricultural technology in the fight against weeds and litterers. These methods have been constant for many decades and boil down to the following:
- Mowing down the above ground portion of weeds, which results in suppression of root growth;
- Treatment with herbicides.
Digging - not digging
Today there is a hot dispute between supporters of natural and traditional agriculture regarding the benefits and harms of constant digging of the garden. The first ones argue that, firstly, it is very physically difficult, and secondly, it breaks the soil structure, which then can only be restored by continuous fertilization and ripping, which is actually done all summer by dacha owners, plowing the garden in spring.
People of organic agriculture offer their own methods of weed control, excluding hard physical labor with a shovel. But all these methods are ineffective if we are talking about virgin land, on which nothing but wheatgrass, gout and nettles have been growing for years. The weed roots on the upper layer of the ground will not be cut. A much better option is to use a pitchfork to dig over it. This will minimize the cutting of the rootstock into many parts, as a result of which the weeds spread even faster.
A more modern mechanical method of getting rid of weeds is the work of a tractor, power tiller or cultivator. Such machinery significantly reduces the physical costs of the gardener (not a shovel!), but several times complicates the process of collecting the roots of weeds.
All the roots, in any case, you still do not get, so the summer season with a hoe to weed you ensured. And for the majority of dacha owners of the post-Soviet space there is nothing special about it. Those who can not or do not want to spend six months without bending over, hoeing weeds, turns to another method of traditional agriculture - the use of herbicides.
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Herbicides differ from herbicides!
The modern reality is such that we use the products of the chemical industry hourly, if not every second, hardly thinking about it. But when it comes to herbicides, the vast majority of those who prefer natural methods, as well as people who do not grow anything, but only consume, will say that it is "terrible how bad".
But if you look into it, this "horror" is not so terrible, and people who claim such things, can not remember the name of any modern herbicide. Most "naturalists" and people who promote the use of "clean" fruits and vegetables don't want to know that modern herbicides are no longer those used 20-30 years ago. Most of the old preparations have long been discontinued, and the new quality herbicides in skillful hands and the right doses do no harm either to the environment or to the quality of grown products. And to be honest, any detergents we use on a daily basis are much more harmful to the environment.
All modern herbicides can be divided into two groups: those which are applied to the soil and absorbed through the roots of plants, suppress the growth of weeds, destroying them gradually, and those which are sprayed directly on the green mass of weeds and get to the roots through the leaves.
The first are more aggressive, and their use is often not recommended even by the manufacturers. First of all, they tend to remain in the soil for several months, and thus affect the cultivated plants growing on it. Secondly, if we use them year after year, the soil eventually stops "digesting" them and becomes practically unviable for many cultivated plants.
The second group of herbicides, which act through the leaves on the roots of weeds, is much more interesting. Once in the environment, such herbicides in a couple of days are destroyed, not significantly affecting neither the state of the soil, nor the cultural plants growing next to the weeds. Of course, herbicides, like any other chemistry, should be used carefully, following closely the recommendations of manufacturers regarding the dosage. If you can do without them, do, but in some cases, they are simply indispensable, for example, if you need to put in order an abandoned garden of several acres in one season.
Methods of organic agriculture against weeds
The main difference between the work on weed control in "naturalists" and "classicists" is that the methods of organic agriculture are mainly aimed at the prevention of the appearance, that is, the prevention of weeds, rather than at quickly getting rid of them, as is customary in traditional farming.
How do weeds "fight" in organic farming?
A lot of natural materials can be used as mulch: grass clippings, including weeds, sawdust, tree bark, needles, etc. Also suitable and improvised means: roofing felt, slate, polyethylene, etc. (but here again there is a question of "naturalness"). By covering a certain area of land with such mulch, by the end of the season it is realistic to get rid of annual weeds present there. Couch grass and other perennials mulch will not immediately take. But after its use they can be easily pulled out of the ground by hands.
The use of mulch could really be called the ideal and the safest solution. If it were not for a couple of "buts". Firstly, when using organic mulch to kill weeds, it is important that its layer be at least 10 cm thick. Can you imagine how much sawdust you need to bring to the site to mulch at least two acres of soil? And if the question is about a hectare?
Secondly, under the mulch pests will not disdain to take root - slugs, mice, snails... And to get rid of them by natural methods (without chemicals) is even harder than from the weeds.
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Method of replacement
Naturalists "claim" that weeds can appear only where the "walk" earth. And it's true - the less vacant land there is, the fewer weeds there are. Do not want to constantly fight weeds, do not leave the ground empty! This issue is partly solved by mulch or sowing green manure between the rows, as well as - new sowing (a free bed under the onions - sowed there green manure or fast-growing greens). In addition, compacted plantings can help. If you approach this question properly, the weeds simply have nowhere to grow.
Method, in which weeds die under the film under the influence of sunlight. It is carried out before the sprouting of cultivated plants.
This method is used everywhere in both traditional and organic agricultural techniques. However, firstly, not all weeds can be mowed, but only in areas where there is zero chance of undercutting and cultivated plants, that is, in undeveloped areas. Another problem is that some weeds spread even more aggressively by their rhizomes after cutting their above-ground parts, such as the Syrian cotton-grass.
Thirdly, this method does work, but very slowly. If you mow weeds at least four or five times in a season in a certain place (gout, wheatgrass, sedge, nettles, etc.), not allowing these plants to form seeds, then, indeed, over time, this area will turn into a more or less attractive lawn. Only, unfortunately, it will take three to four years, to be exact. Three to four years of regular mowing - and your completely "organic" lawn is ready! Are you willing to wait that long? Maybe you should use herbicides at least once.
Preventive measures against the "war"
The seeds of vicious weeds are brought to well-groomed, many years used for seedbeds, flowers and garden crops by their owners. It happens when the mowed weeds with seeds are put in the compost and do not let it mature completely. The use of fresh manure, which is rich in weed seeds, also contributes to the infestation of the soil with weeds.
Fight or get along?
From all of the above it can be concluded that there is no panacea in weed control. Each method of both traditional and organic farming deserves attention, but also has its weaknesses. The clever gardener must draw conclusions independently, based on their own realities and tasks to be solved.
One thing is certain: the fight against weeds should not become an end in itself. Especially since many modern studies prove: cultivated plants grow healthier in areas with few weeds than in ideally clean seedbeds.
Weeds protect our pets from the hot sun and draughts and can even be used as siderates. The main thing is not to let these plants produce flower stalks, that is, mow them in time or pull them out. The green mass of weeds can serve as good mulch (avoid only dividing plants such as portulaca, buttercup, buckthorn and others). However, these weeds can also be beneficial. On their basis we make liquid green fertilizer, which will stimulate the growth of cultivated plants.
In general, in nature there is nothing unnecessary and useless. And this also applies to weeds. Take the nettle. A weed? The weed itself. But how valuable! This is a treasure trove of essential nutrients! Nettles will benefit not only your plants in the garden, but also you yourself, so let it grow in a secluded corner of your garden. Especially since you have tried in vain for many years to kick it out of there ...
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