Weeding

NO MORE DRIVEWAY WEEDING

After a couple of stinking hot days in the paddock, I was ready to give up last night and sell the whole bloody place. But after a good nights sleep, I’m taking stock of the positive stuff. So here’s a picture of the edge of the new driveway. It’s about 60 meters long and I’ve spent a lot of time weeding it. But finally with Lomandra now self seeding and plenty of mulch, it’s a breeze. I still get the odd weed, but it takes about 2 hours a month to weed and by next year, it should be pretty much self maintaining.

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Don’t throw your Weeds away

Nothing that grows on the Paddock leaves the Paddock. There’s no point in tossing away weeds, prunings or anything else that has used the nutrients from your soil. You want to keep all that stuff and put it back into the soil. The only stuff that goes to landfill from here is Moth Vine seeds (too risky to let loose) Avocado and Mango seeds both of which will survive composting and grow. I keep about 6 compost bins in various locations around the place. They are almost impossible to fill. The stuff at the bottom rots and compacts so there is always room for weeds, small cuttings, vege scraps, coffee grounds and whatever.

Every so often, I stop putting stuff into one and leave it for a year. When you come back, there will be a small pile of black compost.

OK – but what about those bad, bad weeds that may still manage to survive a compost bin? I keep a handy wheely bin with a lid. The bad boys go in there. Leave it in the sun for a while to cook those little buggers. This bin gets emptied under the Mulberry tree where it is very dark. Nothing survives. Cool ain’t it?

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Example of a Good Tree

Example of a Good Tree

It must surely rain soon. So it’s a good time to have a look in the tree guards to see firstly whether the little buggers are alive and secondly whether the weeds have grown in there with them. This here’s a good one. No room for weeds and definitely alive. I could have put up a shot of a tree guard with a 2 metre cobblers peg growing out of it, but prefer to be positive about the whole thing. On removing the cobblers peg, I found a small tree still alive at the bottom. After checking about 200 trees and weeding them, there are about 5 deaths. Not bad. I’m a happy Paddock Worker.

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A lazy day

It’s Saturday morning and I’m feeling a bit knackered. After a couple of days concreting in posts and building the new sleeper deck at La Studio, the body is weary. The Responsible Adult has 3 days off work and I will join in the non work fun for a while. So after cooking her bacon and eggy bread for breakfast, it’s down to a bit of kindle time and then we’re off to the junk shops. Weeds may grow for another day – they are on my hit list and will not escape.




 

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More on Non Weeding

A small load of rough mulch

My name’s Prince and I use herbicide. It has been 4 days since I last sprayed. 
Some people around here consider that herbicide use is very, very bad. I do offer to stop using if they will come over and weed for me, but so far nobody has taken me up on that. Herbicides help me transform an area from weeds to garden with a view that eventually I won’t be reliant on them. To help reduce my spraying I use mulch. Most afternoons, I prune around the house paddock and fill up the little trailer with cuttings. 

Rough mulch added to rainforest area

 These get dumped around rainforest trees. In a year or two, I will have a canopy to shade the ground and the vast bulk of weeds will stop coming through. The mulch will have rotted to improve the soil. The area will maintain itself with a minimal amount of hand weeding. 

Native Violets – great for keeping out weeds

Great if you’re growing rainforest, but even small areas can be grown out to be weed free. The aim is to not garden on the basis of perpetual herbicide use, but to use herbicides sparingly as an aid to getting your paddock in order – then stop using.

If only it didn’t taste so good with coke.

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Non Weeding

6 years ago – similar to the area I’m working now. See what it looks like today at the end of this blog.

I’m still weeding. ‘Bravo, my Prince -what commitment!’ you say. Well, while there is no doubt that Paddock workers will never, ever finish weeding forever, there are ways to greatly reduce the numbers of weeds. Weeding should only happen in areas where you want something else to grow. Otherwise, mow, pave or build a chook house in that area.

Really Rough Mulch – weeds


The great gardener Peter Cundall was once asked if grass clippings were OK to mulch plants. His reply was that any mulch is better than no mulch. 

Rough Mulch – mainly Bougainvillea



Mulch protects against weed regrowth while breaking down and feeding the soil around the plants you want to grow.  


Nothing that grows on the Paddock leaves the Paddock. Everything gets recycled into the soil. The roughest mulch I use around plants are those very weeds that are pulled up. Living in Maleny means that the plants growing in the cubby house paddock need pruning very regularly. All prunings’ are taken down to the rainforest re-vegetation sites and mulched around plantings.

Chipped mulch from Energex

If you prefer neat and tidy, then mulch from a commercial chipper can be purchased. My preferred supplier is Energex who trim trees away from the power lines every 2 or 3 years. These guys will let you have the mulch and are happy to receive a small donation to a charity in return. Or, you can buy mulch from commercial tree trimmers in your area. If you have deep pockets you can buy hardwood chips from commercial landscapers.

Even so, it’s all work, work, work. But is there a payoff?

Yes!

The ultimate goal in all this is an area that requires zero maintenance (almost). This amazing feat occurs when your plantings shade and crowd out competitors. 
The image below illustrates an area that was totally weeded out with lantana, privet, camphor, yellow berry and so on. Once cleared and planted, it required high maintenance from herbaceous weeds for about four years. Now that it has a canopy and lots of leaf litter, I weed twice a year. About 2 hours each time mainly wandering around looking for the odd privet tree or moth vine to pull out.It is the same part of the paddock as the photo heading this blog.

This area is now pretty much weed free and a joy to visit.

   

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Weeding Tools

Here’s my handy weeding tools. I call them Wills and Harry. Wills is a sturdy Hoe, good for chipping out shallow rooted weeds. Harry is some sort of home made blunt instrument, good for whacking things hard.

I picked up Harry and Wills from a market where this old guy regularly sells old tools and curiosities. Being well into my grumpy old ageness, I can say with total authority “They don’t make tools like they used to.” So I like to buy pre-loved tools. Apart from markets, there are plenty of old guys moving from a house to a unit or caravan looking to sell off old tools at a good price.

Having said all that, most of my weeds are removed by bending over and pulling the bloody things out.

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Weeding Again

Just to prove that I do actually weed down in the paddock, I thought I might do a before and after shot. When I first cleaned up the edge of the dam a couple of years ago, there was nothing but weeds, so the whole lot came out. Then the volunteer sedge grasses started turning up. But, they are easily smothered and killed by weeds. So a couple of times a year I go down and pull out the weeds. The grasses are now expanding nicely.

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Weeding Tools

Well there you go. Weren’t expecting an Ipod, were you. It’s late winter and the Prince has been weeding roughly 4 hours a day for the last 20 days. About 10 more days and it’ll be done. Believe it or not, hand weeding can become rather boring and it is easy to drift off to some more interesting task. Having someone tell me a story while in the paddock, I can become absorbed and just keep working.

A lot of content is free. I subscribe to a number of podcasts through the Itunes store. Itunes automatically gets these for me when I start it up – all at no cost. Our library also lends audio books which you can listen to on your trusty Ipod. 


I bought the leather case that clips onto my belt at a market in Bowen. 

For boring jobs like weeding, you can’t go past this most useful tool.

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