What is WEEDING?

From the beginning of April to the end of October the gardener should never cease weeding, since, if he does, his land and crops will be robbed right and left of food and water. Many gardeners err by reason of the fact that they start weeding too late in the season. They let the ground assume a verdant meadow-like appearance and then, late in May, instead of early in April, they start attacking the weeds. They are too late. Already the soil has been robbed of food and moisture, already the crops have suffered for lack of air and light, and the prospects of the best results have vanished into space. Had weeding been done earlier, in fact as soon as the rows of crops were sufficiently above the ground to show their presence, much less labour would have been needed, and the ultimate results would have been better in every way. The writer well remembers some weeding experiences, a record of which is published elsewhere. He thinks that gardeners on the whole are a very lazy lot as regards weeding. It is so easy when one sees a few weeds between the fines of our crops to say :”These are not worth troubling about.”But soon these few neglected weeds seed, and breed hundreds more. It is surely a case of being in time. There are many modes of weeding. And here opinions differ. The present writer is fully convinced of the enormous value of the Dutch hoe as a weeding tool except in certain cases. There are weeds such as trefoil, wild strawberry, ground ivy, and twitch which no sensible gardener should attempt to raise with a Dutch hoe or any other hoe. Such weeds should be got up with a weeding fork, and broken as little as possible, since every little piece broken off seems capable of growing. The use of the hoe for such weeds serves to break them up into many pieces just the opposite of what should be done. Then again the Dutch hoe is very little use in the case of longrooted weeds such as dandelions. It only cuts their crowns off ; then they immediately form a callus and three or four more crowns. A digging fork is the right tool to use for raising dandelions and similar deep rooting weeds. But for surface rooting weeds, not in seed, such as charlock, groundsel, chickweed, feverfew, etc., the Dutch hoe is a splendid tool to use. A few sharp reaches or cuts with this removes the top growth of the weeds, and a deeper cut (which should in every case immediately follow the surface one) throws out most of their roots. Weeds should not be left lying on the surface soil except on hot dry land, and even then it is a risk. The gardener should remember what terribly strong constitutions weeds have and treat the subject of weeding with the respect due to it. If the weeds are left lying about on cold damp soils even in the strongest sunshine, they may suddenly shoot into growth again. On hot dry soils the weeds soon wither when hoed up, but the first shower of rain frequently makes them start growing again. Flowers are prematurely formed and seeds ripened, so unless the gardener gets rid of weeds in some satisfactory manner immediately after hoeing them up, he is likely not to have to do his work merely over again, but ten times over again. No saying is truer than that which tells us that”one years seeding means ten years weeding.”Hand weeding demands a little consideration. There are some portions of the garden where the hoe cannot be used and where the weeder would be tiresome. In such cases rather than let the weeds get a hold and spoil the efiect, as well as spoil the plants, the weeding should be done by hand. In very dry weather this is almost impossible if the work is to be done thoroughly, owing to the grip the weeds have on the soil. The best time, and the safest as regards the growing plants, is to do the work immediately after, or during a heavy shower. The weeds are firmly gripped towards their base with the right hand, and a slight but sudden twist brings them out root and all. Care must be taken not to leave the roots of the weeds in the ground, otherwise there will be more trouble in the course of a week or two. Our aim should be not to let the weeds ever grow to any size. To keep the ground clear, there is no better practice than to hoe the borders and vegetable garden regularly at least once, or, better stiU, twice each week. Weeds cannot grow in the loose friable layer of soil obtained by frequent hoeing, and advantage of this fact should be taken. There is only one safe way of destroying deep rooted and creeping weeds, also weeds which are in seed. That is by burning them. The method of working is dealt with in a separate article, to which article (Burning Garden Rubbish) the reader is referred. Soft weeds which are not in flower may also be burnt, but it is wasteful. The bestTmethod of disposing of these is dealt with in the article on Vegetable Matter, to which the reader is asked to refer. E. T. E. See also ORCHARDS : Making and Management of; Trees : Raising FROM Seed; Vegetables : General Considera tions.

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Definition of  WEEDING