Community Community Garden Problems Weeds rotovating

This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Ben Matthews 14 years, 5 months ago.

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     Why does soil grow weeds? 

    From looking at many plots where rotovators are frequently used, the answer has to be partly that soil is recovering from cultivation by re-covering with weeds. I see so much chickweed above all where rotovators are used, compared to none at all on my own plot.

    Rotovating may seem an easy solution to clearing ground and making a tilth for sowing, but it causes far more work after that. It is better to either hand weed carefully and spread some compost, then keep heoing and weeding until your soil is clean (yes, really clean and a joy to garden!), or to do an initial mulch of really weedy soil or pasture, using some compost and or manure with a light excluding mulch on top.



    I believe that rotovating also abrades the seed coat of many annual weeds, and this also causes more to grow (think battle field and poppies)



    Before discovering No Dig,I was a good example of a Rotovating gardener. The rotovator created a beautiful fine tilth and it looked brilliant – for a while. But at each rotovation I must have churned up hundreds of weed seeds and by the end of the season my garden was a huge weed patch. It was so bad that I was going to give up vegetable gardening. Last winter I created a new bed system with bark covered paths and adopted No Dig principles. I have been astonished at how few weeds there have been especially as the ground is full of weed seed. The compost mulch obviously works AND reduces the need for watering. The only real problem is bind weed which I am weakening through regular decapitation.


    Ben Matthews

    That’s an interesting theory about the seed coat abrasion. Some weed seeds will also be brought out of dormancy by the effect of light when dug and distributed near the surface. Regular rotavation to the same depth will also create a hard pan just below the depth of rotatavtion.

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