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P.O. Box 164
Carpio, N.D. 58725
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gardendwellers FARM

Marv's Blog
Back in the saddle again
Written by Marv Baker   
Sunday, 20 June 2010

After spending the last two weeks at National Guard camp at Fort Meade, S.D., I got home Friday night to a mess in the field. The weeds have really taken hold and are beginning to take control. Fortunately, none of them have gone to seed yet so we can knock them down and they will make great mulch.

So on the first weekend back home, I'm working much harder than I did at camp, but I'll guarantee that by the end of next weekend, that field is going to look like one in Organic Gardening magazine. 

Back to the weeds. I don't think a lot of people know, but weeds can be beneficial to good plants if you don't let them get out of control. As I mentioned, as long as they don't go to seed, the roots of many of them will bring nutrients closer to the surface so the roots of the beneficial plants can get them. 

Here in North Dakota when most farmers see weeds, they immediately think they need to spray them with chemical. I look at it a totally different way. Where there are weeds, there are nutrients and in those spots you will get a much better yield than you would in an area where weeds don't grow. 

They also make great compost and mulch. As I spent an entire day weed whacking in the potatoes yesterday (Saturday), the weeds dropped straight down, will break down and decompose in the soil adding a little "green manure" to an already rich river bottom soil.

One other thing worth mentioning about our new field is that it hasn't been broken up in many years and it took a full day just to break the sod. Now that it's broken, tilled and planted, as I walked through yesterday after heavy rain on Thursday, I noticed the ground is soft and wet, just like a sponge. 

That could be key in late July when it gets hot here in the northwest. I'm hoping we won't have to irrigate this year because of that. So far so good, but we haven't hit the summer solstice yet so July and August will test that.

Next thing are trellises. I have thousands of feet of peas, cucumbers, cantaloupes, squash and pumpkins. Last year we trellised them and our yields skyrocketed. I don't care how much work or how much time; trellises are going up. First, though, the weeds need to go away as soon as possible.

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