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STILL `BETWITCHED'

By Larry Ross, RR 3, Clifford. N0M 1M0

(This article is an update to an earlier one printed in the spring 1993 newsletter, page 10. More experience has taught Larry the importance of spring and fall work. For extra information, he also suggested you check out Mechanical Weed Control, reprinted in the fall 1993 newsletter, pages 9 & 10.)

Because of the cold spring in 1993, our grass control was not as effective as it was in other years, but it did work to some extent. Having underestimated the value of the fall portion of twitch tillage, I realized I left some details out of my earlier article. These were really proven in one trial. Here's what I did.

The test plot was an area 100' x 100' and all twitch. It was part of a large 1 acre garden. In the fall of 1991, I rototilled the whole garden only once. Early in the spring of 1992, I chisel plowed using `soil saver' teeth. I repeated this two weeks later using the same chisel plow. Again, about two weeks later, I cultivated and planted potatoes. As a result, the weed control in 1992 was much easier - merely a fight against lambs quarter and pigweed, instead of twitch.

Experience over the past few years has taught me several things. One is that the idea of hooking rhizomes with a cultivator is a total waste of time and energy. Also, it has become obvious that effective grass control requires several passes in both fall and spring to achieve that "round up clean" look. This plan can offset unfavourable weather patterns, i.e. a cold wet spring when you can't carry out planned cultivation.

Twitch cannot be killed when it is dormant. This can be when it's too cold or too dry. Cultivation passes must be made when growing conditions are favourable, so they quickly exhaust energy reserves. Remember, keep the green leaves from reaching sunlight to prevent this replenishing.

Copyright 1994 Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


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