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Discussion Starter #1
Other than waiting for frost I didn't feel I had much choice. I had to get control over these weeds because I have several hundred collards, cabbage, cauliflower and chard to set out.

So what was cut down is lying where it fell and starting to die. Would it be okay to just leave it and dig spots to put these veggies in? Sort of like it's own mulch is already there - or should I try to clear it out first? I don't want to till !!! Surely the soil is still loose enough from the beginning of the season to be able to dig into to plant ... but I know that tilling just creates the weeds like nobody's business. And I can't afford as much buckwheat as I need to cover it all. :(


What was cut down is not only weeds but the spent sunflower stalks, some squash and tomato vines, a few bush beans and watermelon vines. Stuff I'd let the cows eat if I could keep them where I want and not in what's still growing. Surely this is stuff I want put back into the soil, right?
 

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... So what was cut down is lying where it fell and starting to die. Would it be okay to just leave it and dig spots to put these veggies in? Sort of like it's own mulch is already there...What was cut down is not only weeds but the spent sunflower stalks, some squash and tomato vines, a few bush beans and watermelon vines....Surely this is stuff I want put back into the soil, right?
^^^^^ Yup, that's what I'd do. I'd just rake it back to plant your rows, and maybe pull the obvious troublemakers you find within the row. 'Course, you'll still have to weed as usual, but the cut stuff will definitely act as a mulch. You won't get some of the nutrients until after they finish breaking down a while. But, IMO it's still your best bet as long as the mowed plants didn't have diseases that might carry on to the next crop.
Disclaimer** I'm not an expert at this stuff. LOL
 

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Me, I would work it in and start fresh, trying to kill anything it would kill. Those cut weeds will be right back as strong as ever....James
 

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Discussion Starter #4
See the thing is that I've tilled almost all summer long. We tilled the spot that we planted the garden on with a tractor, then a front tine tiller when laying off rows, then between rows for weed control and it seems the weeds just. Won't. Quit.

I read about the buried weed seeds getting a flash of sunlight when the dirt is tilled and it sends them into sprout mode. And the weeds that we have in the garden are NOT in the pasture. I have read that to prevent that you can till after dark but really? I guess I could strap on a head light and till by the full moon.

I am so over al these weeds.
 

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Until they all sprout and no more are made, you will have weeds. Best way is to keep sprouting them and killing them, called summer fallow. Same thing you need to do except you are needing to do it while still gardening. You have to get past it sometime. The other way is mulch of some sort, and enough you keep the weeds from growing. If you plant in it like you have suggested, you will just have the same problems, again....James
 

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Mowing this late in the season, about all you did as help spread the seed... Most stuff by now has gone to seed, or has started to... You need to get to dirt.. All the cut stuff will regrow anyway unless you block it out with cardboard or plastic..

You need to take what you cut and turn it into hay, or gather it all up and start a big compost pile for next year...
 

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Tilling after dark is nonsense. When you brush hogged the weeds, did any have seeds on them, had they "gone to seed"? Allowing weed seeds to fall onto your garden is the same as planting weeds for about ten seasons. Weed seeds will remain viable for a long time.
You have different weeds in the garden than the pasture because they have different opportunities. The pasture weeds probably have seeds in your garden, just not the right conditions for them. The weeds in the garden might not thrive in a pasture for a variety of reasons, but I bet the seeds are there. Your garden's open soil is a sweet home to most weeds.

Mulch, ah, yes, mulch.
After a few years maintaining a 3 acre garden in central Michigan, I moved north 300 miles. My garden, and everything else was red clay. I needed organic matter to open up the soil. In the barn lay 20-30 year old hay chaff. The remains of 40 seasons of loose hay. The top was finely chopped bits of grass and whatever, the bottom was black moist compost. I hauled a hundred wheel barrow loads to the garden and tilled it in. In just a week or so, my garden was alive with a carpet of fresh new thistles. I chopped and tilled that soil for a decade, killing each successive "hatch" of weed seeds.
I had a 60 acre hay field that was starting to get weedy. I plowed it, disced to, added 6 ton of ground lime, disced it some more and planted 800 pounds of pure alfalfa seed and 800 pounds of timothy seed.
The next year a weed I'd never noticed, took over the 60 acres, choking out the alfalfa. Yellow Rocket they call it. The weed had struggled along for years, only a few plants, each year sending out millions of weed seeds. With the soil opened up and the acid Ph neutralized, it was like Florida to the Snowbirds. It took over.
I clipped it before it went to seed a couple times each year for three years and this annual weed was gone.
IMHO, the key to gardening is to devote a few years getting all the weeds out, without fail. Once the weed load is under control, you won't have such a struggle.

Here is a video that shows gardening without needing to water or weed. They lay down a soaker hose under the plastic.
[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsGw0q-yAtA[/ame]
 

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Thanks for sharing that Haypoint!!! I love watching things like that. Just amazing the ideas that get from the napkin, to the field, to the table, to the napkin...

I'm hoping to find some fairs like that in this area, or a bike ride a little further north..
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm going back to buckwheat. I'll just sell a kidney or some other something spare I have lying around. Or just plant a buckwheat patch and learn to save the seed. The spot where I planted late beans has no weeds as the buckwheat is going a fine job.

No more tilling. It's close enough to cold weather that I won't quit fighting the weeds this season. I'll plant in the dirt after digging around the unsightly mess and I'll mulch with weeds. The rich folks in town with their perfectly manicured sprawling lawns will have hundreds of bags of weeds ripe for the picking here shortly. I'll do like I did last year and hook the trailer up and head in before sunrise to gather them. Then I'll plant my cover crop for the winter and keep on mulching until the weeds retreat. Those cabbages will just have to grow good and fast and get to smothering them ground around them!

With god as my witness ....
 

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To minimize weed pressure in our gardens I'll plow, fallow, disc, fallow, till, fallow, and then repeat disc if more weeds come up. Usually only a couple days for each fallow, by the end of 10 days I have a really nice clean seed bed to start with, as long as you don't flip the soil around a lot then on out, you'll be fine.
 

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Till it, let the weed seeds germinate, till it, let the weed seeds germinate. This is reducing the seeds available to grow. If you don't let any go to seed you have lessened the number available. You have to break the weed cycle. Any luck with non conventional weed killing?

A question, do you think you could have gotten just as much produce off 1/2 the area IF you had less weeds to fight? Maybe you need to step back, cut area in half. Till, germinate, till, germinate, then plant your cover crop, plow under next spring and plant that area to garden, summer fallow the other half early, plant a cover crop, plow that under and plant your late garden....James
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Other than drowning them out with the buckwheat, pulling them is all I've tried. And that just got too far out of hand once it was time to harvest. I couldn't pick beans and weeds so I had to make a choice. Plus - the tomatoes never got staked and they were taken over by weeds. But that won't happen again.

Yes - it was too big. But first year so lesson learned. I fully intend to regroup and resize and not have areas that are bare next year. I'm imagining spots where I just have cover crops to recondition the soil in addition to the spots producing food.
 

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To have a successful garden you must first stop the production of another weed seed crop. Then, control the weeds themselves. Each weed seed crop will haunt your gardening for years as they stay viable and germinate over several years.
I don't know your feelings about black plastic sheet to warm the soil, cut off sunlight to weeds and preserve moisture. But it is a popular alternative to both pulling weeds by hand and chemical control. See video above.
Rototilling will control weeds if done prior to weed seed development. Each time you roto till or cultivate you kill the germinated weeds. Eventually you will have allowed all the weed seeds to germinate and then killed. Continued weed problems will depend on how many weed seeds you add to your garden in the form of weed seed laden manure and old weedy hay and poorly composted garden weeds.
Cover crops are good when they are thick enough to suppress weeds. But if weeds are present in your cover crop, you risk adding to the weed seed load you already have. Buckwheat will die at the first frost. Weeds and grasses often grow for months after a frost.

The simple life isn't so simple.
 

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Tilling is pretty much never recommended. When you till you expose beneficial organisms to the elements and they die, thus harming the quality of your soil.

Just keep cutting down the weeds. You're doing fine!
Tilling the soil puts the vegetable residue, mulch and applied manures into the soil so those bifacial organisms can get to them.

Cutting down mature weeds after they have set seeds isn't "doing fine." It is the largest step backwards you can do, IMHO.
 

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When we say till, we are not saying rototilling. There are lots of ways to incorporate organic matter into the soil. PPs soil needs organic matter at this time to increase tilth, moisture holding and avoid compaction. Best to cut area to a maintainable size. I think she is doing the right thing in using cover crops. She just needs to use the right ones. It takes time, she is (has) learned a lot this year. It takes time to build good soil (or lots of money). Buckwheat during the growing season and something that grows all winter. I don't know if buckwheat does, in her climate. I would suggest a legume, inoculated to set nitrogen in the roots, plowed in, in the spring. 2 sources of nitrogen, 1 the roots and 1 from the green manure. Field peas and oats work well here, may not there....James
 

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Tilling is pretty much never recommended. When you till you expose beneficial organisms to the elements and they die, thus harming the quality of your soil.

Just keep cutting down the weeds. You're doing fine!
IF you don't till, you need some way to keep the weeds down (she has found this out). Also makes it harder when she has no weed control program. It takes ground cover; plastic or mulch to keep weeds down, a weed control program; spraying, summer fallow or burning. Of course there are others. The area is large, she would spend all her time mulching and a lot of money for some. Perfect world she would have had perfect soil, lots of compost and mulch, handy. Didn't work out that way. IF she could have pulled every weed, she would have, not enough time. Having many weeds, she finally mowed it all down. We don't know if that decision was made early enough to have averted a new crop of weed seeds. The cut weeds will grow quickly so they can set seed. That is what weeds do, reproduce, even if all production is put into seed, no growth, right on the ground. many weeds will produce more stems, thus more seed heads than original.

Still best to start with a manageable space and build from there. I give you :goodjob:for trying, keep at it. You got something for your time and energy, focus on weed control now so it gets easier each year....James
 

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It sounds like you've dropped a solid cover of weed seeds onto your soil. They may not have been fully mature, but if not they will mature in the head in a hurry once the cut-down plants dry out, then fall out once the dried plants are disturbed. YOU DO NOT WANT TO PLOUGH THEM IN. Let them sprout, then do a quick shallow harrowing to kill off the seedlings before they establish a solid root system. THEN DO IT AGAIN. And again. And again. Any time they get away from you, get too high, chop them down again.

Next year, divide your area in half. Keep doing this to one half, clearing up the weed seed load. Eventually, do a super-thick crop of something like milo (grain sorghum), wheat, barley, rye or triticale, maybe harvest the grain or maybe not, and bale the residue for hay. The other half, crop it normally and battle the weeds, but definitely do not let them go to seed. If you do bare tillage, this is an excellent way to store sub-surface moisture, as you don't have deep-rooted weeds transpiring all the soil moisture back into the atmosphere. It is also an excellent way to expose the bare soil surface to erosion, either wind or water sheet-erosion, but that shouldn't matter too much in garden-sized plots - just don't do it in crop-sized paddocks.

Cover crops don't really do much to stop weeds from growing. The competition may stunt their growth, but unless you've really got the numbers on your side that just encourages them to mature a crop of seeds even faster. Cover crops do just two things well - they protect against soil erosion, and they return organic matter to the soil.
 
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