Our Saratoga members may be familiar with this next member of our team, April Wilhelm. April has been assisting in the “southern leg” of Tangleroot Farm for years now. In past seasons you may have met her while she was working a farmer’s market for us. Now with our new door-to-door service she plays the extremely important roll of bringing our food right to your door. April lives in Glens Falls where her and her husband have raised 4 children, ages 22, 19, 17, and 15. April, homeschooled each one, and is still educating the youngest. In addition to this important work, April is a 4-H leader, so her list of skills and abilities are long and varied. She is humble about this skillset, and remarks that none of these tasks are "executed perfectly," but we’re pretty impressed by the breadth of undertakings alone! Fortunately, April was introduced to our farm about 5-6 years ago when a friend of hers recommended our CSA. April and Tangleroot are the perfect fit as she loves vegetables, and is always eager to try new foods and recipes. In her spare time, April and her husband love to camp, and the kids are coming around to liking it as well;) Here is a link to April’s favorite recipe of the year! A great one to try when bok choy comes back into the rotation. https://www.marthastewart.com/1049811/inside-out-pork-dumplings April’s work with Tangleroot allows the farm team up north to stay focused on the needs of our crops. Last week this meant a lot of weeding, as each hot, sunny day gave these pests the fuel they require to come on strong. The definition of a weed is any plant that is growing where you don’t want it to grow. Why are these unwelcome visitors such a problem? Plants don’t share well. Like most living creatures plants are in constant competition for resources. If your life blood is chlorophyl you compete for water, nutrients and sunlight. Invasive species and aggressive weeds can be devastating, as they are fierce competitors. If their efforts are not thwarted, they will quickly shade unestablished crops, starve their neighbors of food and water, and then go to seed, so that their progeny can do it all again the following year. At Tangleroot the battle against these voracious foes is no less urgent than at any other farm, but in order to uphold our organic practices we use various tools for cultivation, and never resort to chemical intervention. Here is a breakdown of some of the weapons we have on hand to fight the good fight:
Flame Weeder- True to its name, the flame weeder kills weeds by exposing them to the heat of a flame. Although this tool sounds fierce, its usefulness is limited by the specific window of time when we are able to implement this method effectively. We can use this tool on direct seeded rows, when the weeds are young and only before our crop seeds have germinated. Once germination occurs the window closes as we risk killing the baby vegetable plants along with the targeted weeds.
Tine Weeder- This tool is effective during the period when the crops are established, but new weeds are not. The spindly tines draw through the soil severing the threadlike roots of the new weeds, so they never get the chance to dig their teeth in and establish dominance.
Finger Weeder- The finger weeder is the next line of defense as it is an efficient tool for cutting off weeds that are still small, but passed the ideal white-thread stage required for the tine weeder.
Stirrup Hoe, Hand Hoe and Wire Weeder- These classics are simple yet versatile options that are friends of farmers and home gardeners alike. They are great for when weed removal requires a bit more elbow grease than the tine or finger weeder allows.
Disc Hillers- This fun tool smothers weeds by “hilling” the soil up around your crops
Wheel Hoe- With enough practice this tool can be a speedy killer. The Wheel Hoe has adjustable wheels and blades, so that it straddles your established vegetable plants, and cuts down weeds approaching from either side. It is especially important to remain focused while using this tool as a slight move in the wrong direction could sever your crops as well as the targeted weeds.
Tarps- When we are clearing a bed in preparation for the next planting we use tarps to smother existing weeds, and prevent the germination of new ones. This is a very effective way to starve unwelcome intruders of sunlight, while heating and dehydrating them.