1 May 2015

1 May 2015

how to deal with weeds and how to store pumpkins and kumara

The importance of getting rid of weeds

  • For organic gardeners a weed is just a plant in the wrong place.
  • It’s important to keep on top of weeds though because
    – they compete with the plants for nutrients
    – they can outgrow a crop and smother it
    – they can become a habitat for bad bugs like green shield beetle
  • Using a good garden implement is the traditional way of getting rid of weeds. Rob favours a niwashi with a long handle. Niwashi is a Japanese garden tool that uses an angled blade to cut into the soil as you pull it towards yourself. Make sure you keep the blade sharp. A hoe or a trowel also work well.
  • Rob probably won’t have to weed this bed again because if you plant your plants reasonably close together the sheer size of the plants as they mature will stop the light reaching the soil which halts germination of weed seed.
  • Make sure you get all the roots of weeds and get rid of them before they go to seed. If they haven’t gone to seed you can use them in your liquid fertiliser, or compost, or trench them back into the soil. This is the beauty of working with nature.
  • Another way of getting rid of weeds is by mulching which smothers them. Firstly Rob layers newspaper down thickly. Newspapers use a vegetable ink so they’re fine to use, but glossy flyers are not suitable. Then he adds mulch which is chipped prunings from his fruit trees. Other mulches you can use are grass clippings or compost. Over winter the mulch will break down and as it does it feeds your crop, suppresses the weeds, keeps the roots cool in summer and it builds up the earthworm population.
  • The third way of getting rid of weeds is by using a flame thrower. It’s best used on weeds at the edge of a bed, or on driveways and paths. The fire breaks down the cells of the weed plants and after half an hour you’ll find them blackened and dying. But, if your region has issued fire risk warnings you must not use a flame thrower, and especially near a garden covered in bark, as fire can smoulder away in bark chips for several days.

Storing pumpkins and kumara

  • Remember how we were careful to leave a good sized stalk on our pumpkins, then we bathed them in a solution of a handful of baking soda mixed in a bucket of water. Finally we laid them on top of a shed to bake the skins. See here for how to prepare pumpkins and kumara for storage.
  • Now they’re ready for storing. The important thing is pumpkins should not touch any hard surface. So either lay them on a bed of straw or wood chips or, as Rob does, use drying racks, which have good air circulation as well. The key thing is that they don’t touch anything or each other, otherwise rot sets in.
  • Remember how we dug up our kumara and left them on the soil in the sun for a few days. Now they too are ready to store for the winter.
  • Rob covers the bottom of a well-aerated container with newspaper then layers the kumara on top of that, being careful to arrange them so they don’t touch each other. Continue to layer newspaper then kumara, finishing with a layer of newspaper. Store in a cool, dark place.

Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes