Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mindful Weeding- Learning From My Mistakes

I knew i shouldn't do it but i did it anyway. Back in February we had several weeks of unseasonably warm weather and i wanted to get some seeds planted before i left town for a week to visit my mom. Rain was in the forecast the day before i needed to leave. I tilled in the rye grass cover crop in the morning and left the turned up plants to dry in the sun. I knew that there were rye plants buried just below the surface and i knew that the rain would encourage them to re-root. I was in a hurry to get the seeds in the ground so i raked out the bed as best i could the following day and planted Tokyo Bekana and turnip seeds.

Sure enough when i returned from my trip the seeds had germinated and the rye was starting to come back. It was not until a couple days ago that i made time to do something about it. I spent 2 hours pulling the rye grass out of the bed. I am very particular about how i pull weeds. Some people mindlessly yank at them, paying scant attention to what they are doing. I want be sure i get the whole root out of the ground because i do not want to go back later and do it again. I can tell by the sound if someone is pulling weeds correctly. If you are just tearing the tops off it makes a popping sound. If you are doing it correctly the sound is more like an extended rrriiipppping sound as the roots come loose from the soil.

What I Learned by Practicing Mindful Weeding

During those 2 hours i spent on hands and knees in intimate contact with the soil food web i learned several things by being in the moment and observing what was going on before my eyes.
  • The seedlings that looked good walking by, on close examination are showing signs of a magnesium deficiency. They have a slight interveinal chlorosis with some small necrotic (dead) spots on the leaves. I will drench them with a solution of epsom salts ( magnesium sulfate) mixed with fish fertilizer to correct the deficiency.
  • The earthworms are thriving!. Every time i pulled up a clump of rye there were happy worms wiggling around.
  • The clover i left to grow in the paths are heavily colonized by the nitrogen fixing rhizobium bacteria sharing it with the surrounding plants.
  • Baptisia australis can be propagated by root cuttings. I dug some out of the beds and moved them to another location in the fall. New plants are emerging where pieces of root were left in the ground.
  • Morning glory and potato vine (a cousin) are becoming an increasing problem in this part of the garden. I need to stay on top of it to keep it from going to seed this year.
A key permaculture principle is to observe and interact. In doing so we can learn much about our gardens and about ourselves.

Practice Mindful Weeding y'all.

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