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Saturday, March 21, 2009

In the Weed Patch

There's two schools of thought on weed patches. Well, at least two. One says weeds in the proximity of a garden or farm should be removed or better yet eradicated (say, with soil sterilants) in order to prevent the harboring of pest insects and fungal, viral, and bacterial diseases. This harboring occurs presumably during the dormant or off season when the crops or garden are not actively growing, therefore not able to sustain the pest populations. Without the weeds the pests to sustain them the pests should fade away. Another way of looking at it is the weeds provide habitat for the natural agents that can best control the pest insects and disease problems, allowing them to get an earlier start in the growing season. I haven't tested either hypothesis, although I have a nice healthy stand of weeds in part of the yard and will have it until someone gets around to hoeing them down. If this year is typical, that won't be for another month or so, leaving plenty of time for the weeds to set seeds for next year's crop.

Weeds in residence include sow thistle, filaree, cheeseweed, sweet annie, and the largest one of all, a 15 foot tall ash tree that has escaped our attention.

There were plenty of aphids on the weeds and not a predator in sight, by the way.

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