Here’s a definition for you:
To weed (verb):
- To clear of weeds; to free from something hurtful or offensive; to remove the less desirable portions of.
- To get rid of (something harmful or superfluous).
That is the stage we are at in our garden journey.
As an aside, I just had flashbacks about the book Pilgrim’s Progress. I am, by no means, John Bunyan writing out of my imprisonment, but I guess it’s because our garden often seems like an allegory to me.
But I digress…
First, let me give props to the plastic mulch again. It seems to cut down on weeding because the sproutlings are under a covering where they are kept warm and safe. However, there are some weeds that seem to like the dark and grow under the plastic mulch right at the base of our sproutlings. These weeds have been harder to see, and since most of the sproutlings are still smaller, they often blend in. A note about harmful weeds: They like to blend in and get close to fruit-bearing plants. They may lay low for a while, but eventually will take over your garden if not plucked out…by the root (such a satisfying feeling).
So, it’s pretty obvious…you have to get rid of the weeds and really keep up with it so they don’t kill your fruit-bearing plants.
What is less obvious (at least it was to me when we started) is that you also have to get rid of superfluities; the excess that may prevent the stronger sproutlings from producing really good vegetation. Everything I’ve read stresses the importance of plant spacing and also thinning out your plants. Every seed packet indicates the amount of space your plant needs, which is different for each type. You may sow the seeds close together in many cases, simply because not all the seeds will take root (germinate), but once they start growing they need space. If you don’t provide the proper amount of space and concurrently thin the excess, then (1) the plants will eventually work against each other with some taking over the others, and (2) their fruit will be smaller and less flavorful. Again, this is the consensus I’ve gained from researching and asking around.
"Failure to thin your garden properly may result in either a plant that takes over, or one that doesn’t grow to its potential. Keep in mind that thinning should be done even before it’s readily apparent that your garden needs it." (Thinning Your Garden).
I have to admit getting rid of the unnecessary is a challenge for me…yes, even in gardening. For example, right now we have some tomato transplants we started at home. Well, every seed we planted in those little pots must have sprouted because there are about 8+ sprout-babies in each pot. Now, the good news here is that while they are young we can gently split them up and plant the other sproutlings in additional pots (so I’ve been told). But at the garden, it will be a sad day when we have to pluck out some perfectly good white acre pea babies so that the others have room to grow and flourish. It will be especially difficult if there are several side by side all doing really well.
So, weeding is not just getting rid of the harmful that can kill your plant’s fruit/vegetation but also the unnecessary excess that can limit or keep it from flourishing.
Not hard to connect the dots on why the garden seems like an allegory.
To close…here are some recent pictures of our garden-patch kids.
Potatoes (finally sprouted)