Weed Buster: Summer CSA Week #4

Wednesday, June 29th: Everyother Group B

28 June, 2016 (10:44) | CSA Newsletter | By: cassie

Weed Busting in Action

Ever wanted to strap a tank of propane on your back and walk around with a flame stick?

Today Mike was teaching me how to do this (which is pretty fun!) and I kept getting the Ghostbusters theme song in my head. Something about the crazy, unwieldy backpack and the odd feeling of aiming high heat onto wet soil made me think of the Ghostbusters. You know, sort of this preposterous outfit that hardly seems fitting to the task at hand, yet somehow it works.

In our case however, it’s not Hollywood that makes this funny backpack work,  but actual science. Here’s what flame weeding is: the idea is that you are using the high heat of flame (or near flame) to burst the cells of any existing weeds.  You aren’t catching them on fire, so much as creating a super fast temperature change to HOT that weakens and destroys the plant cells.

We can use this technique with certain crops that we direct seed, like beets, carrots and parsnips. The objective is to kill any weeds growing just before our plants germinate. That way our newly germinated plants have less competition in their infancy. It helps them establish themselves more quickly.

So what you see if the photo is a bed of seeded carrots. The carrots have not germinated yet. Mike is walking down the bed with the flame weeder, using heat to burst the cells of any weeds growing where our carrots seeds are soon to pop up out of the ground.  We had hoped to flame weed the beets, but some of the beets had already germinated…

While most of our cultivation is done by tractor and hoes, this is an example of one of those cool tricks of the trade. This time of year, for the 4 weeks before and after the solstice, we need all the tricks to get ahead against the weeds.

To the tune of the Ghostbusters song:

At solstice time, when the weeds are strong; Who ya gonna call? Weed Busters!

Can’t help it. I’m a product of the 80s and a little dorky. All you millennials, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, give a little google to Ghostbusters and have a chuckle at my age.

Cheers and happy eating!

Farmer Cassie