|Rafael flaming the cilantro |
field before the crop sprouted.
|Rafael cultivating the cilantro field|
with the 5 Row Basket Weeder
|A closer look at Rafael basketing the|
Once the crop is out of the ground we lose the option to flame. Now we have to turn to a variety of different cultivating implements for help. This will depend on the crop and how big it is in the field. A good example is our cilantro. It is planted on raised beds in rows of 5 on top of each raised bed. We use the 5 row ‘basket weeder’ to loosen the soil and pull out any small weeds that are already growing in the top inch of soil. Rafael has done an excellent job with perfecting his basketing procedures. Rogelio, Ramon and Jose Manuel have also done a great job with the basket weeder.
|Oscar (driving the tractor) and Luis operating 'The Kult'|
to take care of those pesky weeds in our beautiful parsnip field.
|A closer look at the fingers of 'The Kult' working!|
|Vicente using the 2 row Lilliston |
cultivator in the corn field.
|Vicente using the disc Lilliston|
to bury the weeds in the potato field.
Vicente has learned how to use the Lilliston cultivator with ease. The open steel fingers on this implement pull up the soil between each crop row and push the loose soil around the plant, essentially burying the weeds.
|Corn row before (top) and|
after (bottom) the Lilliston.
we have one more tool: our hands to do hand weeding. This is very time consuming but also necessary in some cases. With carrots or parsnips, both of which have longer germination rates, the weeds generally pop up before the crop. After the field is flamed with the flame weeder and the crop starts coming up, we need to make sure the hand weeding gets started soon. This takes very good eye-hand coordination as well as knowing the difference between the crop and a weed.
I can’t stress this enough, but extreme precision while using any of these implements makes the difference between a well weeded crop and not having any crop at all because it was all pulled out or buried. You have to watch the front of the tractor to see where you are going, but also the back to make sure you are not pulling up any plants. Even the hand weeders need to be careful.
|Picture of the tool room where we|
store the hand weeding tools.
Here are some parting thoughts on weeds. Richard estimates that we kill 90 -95% of the weeds in our fields with the mechanical weeding techniques, leaving only a smaller amount for the hand weeders. Did you know that 1 weed that has gone to seed can produce up to 20,000 seeds and that these seeds can and will be carried by birds, water and the wind? This means that even though we remove most of the weeds, we will always have some weeds to deal with on the farm. Did you also know that Mother Nature does not like bare ground? Turns out she doesn’t like to be naked! We use cover crops to help with the weeds (and other reasons) since if we don’t cover it, she will use the weed seeds in her seed bank to cover herself up. I know we have only touched briefly on the weed subject and there is a lot of information out there we didn’t discuss. Rest assured that Richard and Rafael are on top of the weed battle. Discussing when to cultivate, which crops, upcoming weather, which implements to use, should they use fingers, discs, knives or how deep to go when cultivating are just some of the conversions that they have on a daily basis. In the end, we are grateful to all of our cultivating crew for their attention to detail, which allows us to have healthy crops to harvest and eat!