La primera escarda en Sol Feliz

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In the last couple of mornings, I was able to go outside while the sun was rising to hoe some weeds in our maize and bean rows.  This is the best time to work outside:  it is nice and fresh, the birds are singing and playing, and there are all kinds of interesting things to notice as our longitude wakes up…  Too bad I did not take a “before” picture to complement this “after” picture but basically we had a lot more weeds and some tall alfalfa plants that were towering over our corn and beans.  The process is simple and direct: use the sharp edge of the hoe to chop the roots of the weeds and then pull the soil toward the stem of the plants.   But the process requires attention for two reasons:  one is that a simple slip could mean you kill the crop.  Perhaps attention was lost and the hoe went somewhere you didn’t want or else you were unaware that there was a crop plant buried in the weeds and then you accidentally kill it.  The other reason for paying close attention is that there could be a “weed” in your path that is actually a food source, medicinal plant, or otherwise useful in terms of use or the attraction of beneficial insects.  We are especially on the lookout for quelite de burro (lambsquarter), quelite mejicano (mountain orach), and verdolagas (purslane).  But we also leave yerba de la negrita (globemallow), yerba del buey (grindelia or gum weed), and any other plant that looks like it is in a good place (perhaps it is holding soil in a bare spot, creating a microclimate, is home to ladybugs, etc.)  The idea in hoeing weeds is not to eliminate the weeds completely, they also have a purpose, but to really ‘knock them back’ so that our crops can really thrive by getting more sunlight and more soil nutrient and moisture…

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About Miguel

Miguel Santistevan is a researcher, educator, and advocate for traditional agriculture crops and systems.
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