Weeds As Messengers – Part 4

“Most people think along the same lines of KILL KILL as in conventional agriculture. I want them to look at WHY the weeds are there and what they are telling them – and how they are trying to help!! Then get some soil tests to see what is going on. Cheryl Kemp

4. Cropping weeds

This is a big subject, where we are just starting to experiment. Specific weeds come up for specific crops. For example in potatoes, Apple of Peru (Nicandra physalodes), Thornapple (Datura Stramonium) and Redroot (amaranthus) like areas where the soils have been loosened and mounded. Their purpose is to hold the soils together and shade the young crop!


Cultivation, cultivation, cultivation!! Timing, use of spring tine harrows, finger weeders, push hoes (for smaller areas). See Steel in the Field Farmers Guide to Weed Management (www.sare.org for free download)

Mulching, covering the ground, turning in a green manure crop prior to planting to clear some of the seed bank out. Never let a weed crop go to seed, mulch mow or turn in to prevent seeding. Note: If you spray with Round up, it rushes to seed and starts growing again next season.

No-Till: grow a tall green manure crop such as forage sorghum or oats and lupins and roll it over to lie flat on the ground. Go through with a coulter to plant seedlings e.g. Tomatoes into ground cover. (see http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/no-till_revolution )

Under-sowing: grow a low growing ground cover type crop or plant, such as Purslane in potatoes to keep areas between crops covered or pasture grasses that will come up after the crop overhead is harvested and become part of the rotational grazing program. (See www.sare.org – Cover Crops free download)

Double cropping: e.g. soy beans or clover in the rows between the corn.

Mulching: For garlic or vegetable crops, heavy mulching will stop the light getting through and preserve soil moisture.

Peppering: collecting weed seed heads from last crop, burning to ash and putting out the ash as the next crop is planted.

Peppers: This is a Biodynamic method of burning the seeds to an ash at a specific moon cycle, then the ash can be either spread out to the open soils, or made into a potentised solution ( like Homeopathy) and a small amount added to your foliar sprays and sprayed to the soils preferably at cultivation. This sometimes needs to be repeated for 3-4 years, but you will notice the weeds getting smaller and less vital. The idea is to interfere with the germinating of the seed.


*Ref. Cheryl Kemp Biodynamic Advisor