This is the time of year when I hear my mother’s voice advising me to “get the whole root!” Mom – who passed on 20 years ago and more – was referring, of course, to pulling weeds. Taking out the entire root means that the weed won’t grow back. At least, not that particular weed plant. At least, according to my mother.
I’ve been pulling weeds by hand for as long as I’ve had gardens. Careful to get the entire root, I weed with a trowel, just in case my fingers alone can’t get the job done. But every year, without fail, the weeds overtake me. I then wait for a cool or rainy, or cool and rainy day to spend in the garden, yanking those pesky thugs out by the roots.
There’s gotta be an easier way, right? Unfortunately, glyphosate isn’t it.
This year – like every year since I retired – I started off with a commitment to daily weeding. And this year – like every year – a couple of rainy days defeated my best efforts.
The May/June issue of TAG (The American Gardener magazine from the American Horticultural Society ) included an article by Thomas Christopher entitled “Winning the War on Weeds.” Exactly what I need!
The first bit of advice caused me to stumble. “Snip, don’t rip” was the suggestion. Evidently, tearing a plant out by the roots disturbs the soil, leaving an opening for more weed seeds to germinate. Okay, so does that mean Mom was wrong?
I then remembered a bit of EMG training advice that I heard but didn’t adopt: don’t disturb the soil by hoeing or tilling. Instead, scrape the ground with a sharp hoe.
Really? Putting these two things together, I got out the nearest thing I could find to a “sharp hoe” – no idea what it’s called.
With it, I tried to scrape some weeds. Sort of worked but not really.
So Amazon to the rescue. I searched for ‘sharp garden hoe’ and came up with many different options, including this Niasku Weeding Scraper Garden Tool . I selected this option because of price – less than $15 – and no shipping. Here it is!
Careful now. That edge is sharp!
I wanted to clear the plot that once contained string beans until I decide what next to plant there. (The rabbits got the shoots – another story for another day.) Here’s what the plot looked like when I started.
Here’s what it looked like when I finished – less than 5 minutes later.
On a good day, it would have taken me half an hour to clear this bed by pulling up every weed by its roots.
I’m not exactly playing fair here. First, the TAG article admitted that snipping – or as I interpreted it, scraping – only weakens the weed. Another snip or scrape may be needed. And without the shade provided by desirable plants, weeds will overtake the garden once again. Why? Because it takes sun to germinate weed seeds. Or almost any kind of seed, for that matter. Crowding out the weeds with desirable plants is key. So I need to decide what will go in that bed PDQ.
I ‘weeded’ five garden beds in less than an hour. Pretty amazing. Even if I have to do it all again tomorrow.