We started planting the spring garden, growing lettuces, kale, and chard and of course, the strawberries. We have been doing research for the past year to determine if anyone in the state of Maryland opened an organic pick your own strawberry patch. We know of organic pick your own vegetables, but we have not found strawberry in particular. We checked with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, well-established organic farmers in the state and news articles from the past two decades. We have not found any, so I believe we are going to be the first in the state to do so.
We are using landscape fabric this year even though I viewed a webinar on yield differences between fabric and cover cropping for weed suppression. It turns out cover cropping increases the yield of corn, tomatoes and other vegetables. The scientist went on to explain the chemical reaction that takes place causing the increase. We had already committed to landscape fabric so we will store that knowledge for the future.
After the planting comes weeding, watering and watching, the three w's of organic growing and producing. Weeding is broken into the three H's: hoeing, hands, heat and spraying. Okay spraying does not fit but we do control weeds by spraying concentrated vinegar, lemon juice, clove oil and lecithin. The spray has a pleasant fragrance that I like but is not for everyone. You can only use the spray if it is above seventy-five degrees and it is not going to rain for awhile nor should it have rained for awhile, which doesn't make it the most ideal weed control but we use it when we can.
My most favorite way to weed is heat. The heat is easier than the other methods but it does have its drawbacks, I may have gotten a reputation for starting fires but it is not on purpose and I am very careful despite what my wife says. I did set an old abandoned concrete silo on fire once, by mistake. Let me explain before you determine my culpability.
The silo was made of concrete block, had no roof, and was loaded with old wood from the previous owners. My weeding tool is a propane tank with a hose and torch attached. You turn it on, rub the flint for a spark and you have about 25,000 BTU to kill weeds. I had been using the torch for over a year before the day the silo caught fire and I was pretty successful not burning things down, with the except of weeds and maybe carrots. I knew the silo was loaded with wood and in essence, it was a tinderbox, so I was careful whenever I was around it with the flame.
It was late in a long day of work and I wanted to get the weeding done; I started around the silo then went around the barn and to the grape vines. From the grape vines, I went to the production garden and started doing the perimeter. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my wife running towards the silo. I knew immediately why she was running; I turned to see flames licking out of the top of the silo. When I got closer, I could hear popping sounds and then clinks on the tin roof of the barn. The cement covering from inside the silo was heating up and exploding out hitting the roof. I took everything off and went to the barn to get the water pump. I pulled the pump out hooked up the hoses to the water tank and pulled to start the pump engine. Of course, it does not start. After three pulls, it coughs to life and water starts to come out. Once the water was flowing, I was able to cool the fire down and eventually put the fire out. It took about eight-hundred gallons of rainwater to accomplish that feat but we did get it out.
My wife was standing there eyes wide open, heart pounding and shell shocked. What could I say, I had a torch, the silo caught fire and I was in the area, there was no wiggle room, none. I think we were both in shock at the time so we put the pump and hoses back, and we stopped for the day. I look back and see how lucky we were, how things fell into place, the pump worked and we actually had water in the collection tank. Any one of those things not happening and we might have lost the barn. I still weed with heat but my wife prefers the hoe and hand method best. I can laugh about it, my wife is to the point were she can grin and shake her head but not quite laugh.
Buy Local: But, make sure your farmer is actually growing what they are selling