Field of weeds

Finding land, working a small plot or anything else countryside related
Tora
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Field of weeds

Postby Tora » Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:29 am

Looking for advice on how to change a field of weeds into a field of dreams.

I am working on moving into an old house on the fringe of town (or society for most...). I have a rocky 700 m2 field left to the weeds for 10-20years that I'm trying to tame. For now I've cut 1/4-1/3 of the chest-head high or over head height weeds with the plan (hope) of planting a 100m2(?) garden for now but not sure how to handle the roots or regrowth of weeds that has been an issue in the small summer garden I hastily put in late this spring.

I hope to put in some fruit and nut trees over the coming years but have my hands full for now with getting the house livable by the wife's standards. I think it would be a good idea to get most of the weeds cut before they seed in the coming months. I hope to be able to start planting trees late this winter or next year.

I have a small garden tiller that came with the house but I doubt it's ability to take the big bad roots and vines in that big of space. Also there seems to be a lot of bigger stone in the field so I don't feel comfortable asking somebody to go in there with a tractor.

Any advice on taming the bush? In stages would be ok. I prefer to do it without chemicals.

I just want to repair the house....

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Re: Field of weeds

Postby starting_the_dream » Wed Aug 22, 2018 12:35 pm

Coming from a complete novice who had the same problem, fire and black sheet.

Neither of my fields are as big as yours, about 200m2 each, so take from that what you will. I cut everything, raked off most of it because I wasn't comfortable with a big fire covering that much area, then burned what remained. Let it sit for a few weeks, then put black sheet over all of it. I did this in the fall and left it covered all winter. When I uncovered it in early spring, most of the larger roots were rotting away. Granted these weren't tree roots, just large, viney stringers that are everywhere. I took a heavy-duty metal rake and tried to clean off as much of the left-over vegetation as possible. Then I waited until after a good rain where the ground was still soft but not muddy and walked the field with a shovel and tried to loosen the ground. Also took as many rocks out as possible at this time. Then I started tilling it. Probably six passes over everything? Then more black sheet to cover everything until ready to use.

Things I learned:
-The cheap black sheet is worthless for large areas. Buy the thicker, heavy stuff and use prongs to hold it down. Rocks or roof tiles will work, but the prongs really set it and the wind can't get under it.
-I have a smaller tiller too. One without tires, just the tines. When I made the first few passes, there were sections where it would just skim over the top. It doesn't have the weight to churn up packed soil. So I'd stop and use my shovel to loosen it up. It was time consuming, but needed.
-I also hastily put in a spring garden this year that is currently covered in weeds and grass. This fall I'll till everything up and start over. Use the fall to plan my layout and get my beds ready. Then I'll cover the beds with my left over cheap black sheet and let sit until spring.

Please let us know how you decide to tackle it. Always looking for new ideas!

Good Luck!

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Eric in Japan
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Re: Field of weeds

Postby Eric in Japan » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:56 pm

Use a brush cutter to hack it down, and keep it down. A good lawnmower is best once you get to that stage. Grasses will begin to dominate. Caleb Fuller suggested the one from Minato Works in Fukuoka in the choosing a kusakariki thread, I got one (the push rear bagger) and it is totally awesome. And all my young trees and berry bushes are now mulched with clippings. What used to take a full day I get done in an hour. Granted, it is an hour every week as opposed to a whole day every eight weeks, but it feels like so much less work.
Image
You can see some of the mulched trees in the video of my boy helping out in the orchard.
https://www.facebook.com/eric.burke.1293575/videos/10204854243591298/

100 square meters is a pretty large garden- do you have enough time to care for that? I would start with a 5x5m the first year, and expand it until either I was making enough for the family, or until the weeding/care became too time consuming. But if you use the grass clippings from mowing the 700m you can deep mulch your garden and keep weeding to a minimum.
"... so, the cucumbers said to the cabbage, `Lettuce Go.`"

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Re: Field of weeds

Postby Tora » Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:23 pm

starting_the_dream wrote:Coming from a complete novice who had the same problem, fire and black sheet.

Good Luck!


Thanks for the detailed rundown of your experience. I hate that black plastic but it sure does serve its purpose when needed. I do plan to hold out and try other methods. I wonder how long I can hold out before I admit defeat an buy some. Get a beer and some popcorn cuz it could get entertaining from an observer's perspective.

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Re: Field of weeds

Postby Tora » Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:37 pm

Eric,
I ended up getting a workhorse of a mower that I posted about in a follow up on the "Choosing a Kusakariki" thread. I've actually found it works better than the brushcutter in the taller weeds, vines and thorn brambles. Wish it would keep the wasps and yellow jackets at bay and keep my beer cold and full too.

100m might be too much for now but we usually use the Darwin method of gardening so a large percentage of what we plant never makes it to the table. If the strongest survive and we eat those vegetables, we are theoretically making ourselves stronger. In reality we eat a lot of small scrubby veggies that still tast a whole lot better than anything you can buy at the local store and most vegetable stands or michinoeki.

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Re: Field of weeds

Postby Zasso Nouka » Thu Aug 23, 2018 7:07 am

Tora wrote: I hate that black plastic but it sure does serve its purpose when needed. I do plan to hold out and try other methods. I wonder how long I can hold out before I admit defeat an buy some. Get a beer and some popcorn cuz it could get entertaining from an observer's perspective.


I also started out hating the idea of the black plastic mulching sheet but after a huge amount of teeth nashing, rending of clothes and lost crops we caved in and started using it. Now that in certain areas of our farm we are starting to beat the weeds we are also using less and less of it but there are some circumstances where it is still invaluable. For instance, when growing crops through the winter it keeps the soil warmer overnight and helps it heat up much quicker in the morning so the roots don't stop metabolising nutrients.

Covering areas with heavy duty sheeting is a good way to get rid of a lot of weeds, Jean-Martin Fortier popularised and as a technique it os very effective. You can also use a flame weeder to take care of newly emergent weeds or on smaller areas a Kezu Taro (see the Tool Recommendation thread) or Stirrup hoe will do the job. Keep the weeds from setting seed with your beast of a mower and you'll gradually whittle the numbers and diversity down. Create false seed beds before planting and that will help further and be prepared for some losses or hard work weeding in the first few years, eventually you'll notice you are winning the war and it will all get a lot easier.

Now here's the kicker. Some weed seeds, particularly the more feistier grasses can remain active and healthy for between 8 - 10 years or more in the soil :angry-screaming: :angry-screaming: :angry-screaming:

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Re: Field of weeds

Postby Zasso Nouka » Sat Aug 25, 2018 6:35 am

Eric in Japan wrote:I got one (the push rear bagger) and it is totally awesome. And all my young trees and berry bushes are now mulched with clippings. What used to take a full day I get done in an hour. Granted, it is an hour every week as opposed to a whole day every eight weeks, but it feels like so much less work.
Image


I have almost the exact same mower but from a different company

Image

There is another method that could potentially clear an area of weeds and bugs but it might be more work than is worthwhile......... Chickens, they would turn over the top of the soil and eat any emerging weeds and bugs they find in the soil and by rotating the area they are in you could gradually cover the whole area. Plus you'd get free range eggs from them but it's a lot of work when other methods would do the job without the long term commitment.

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Re: Field of weeds

Postby Tora » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:23 am

Zasso Nouka wrote:There is another method that could potentially clear an area of weeds and bugs but it might be more work than is worthwhile......... Chickens, they would turn over the top of the soil and eat any emerging weeds and bugs they find in the soil and by rotating the area they are in you could gradually cover the whole area. Plus you'd get free range eggs from them but it's a lot of work when other methods would do the job without the long term commitment.


Thanks for the idea. That actually sounds like a good idea but the wife is not keen on chickens at all. Unless she's eating them. She does want a goat which might help somewhat. Until the neighbors start coming to feed it scraps from their gardens and the goat realizes weeds taste bad and breaks out to go raid the neighbors' gardens and the neighbors get angry and end up blaming me and my goat when a troop of monkeys raids their gardens in the middle of the night. At least that's what happened to a friend here. "Billy" the goat quit eating weeds and just became a big rambunctious (violent?) pet. He couldn't get the neighbors to stop coming around at 4am to give Billy a snack.

Do people who raise chickens have problems with Hakubishin (civets) or other critters (foxes) getting their chickens? How do you protect them if they're free range? Do tobi (kites) go after chickens? Haven't seen any hawks around. Billy the goat didn't do much to protect his chicken brothers and sisters from the hakubishin that that went on a serial killing spree that lasted a week and only ended when all the chickens were gone (before a shelter could be created for said chickens.

AND, I just found out that I may not have a tiller as it is broken beyond my expectations. I want to make an animated movie based on my daily experiences in which everything is broken. It'll be a tragic comedy. Even the tools being used to fix the broken machines to cultivate the long neglected fields are broken or missing one little part that can be found nowhere in any of the shops who have no interest in helping the main character in his struggle. They just want to sell machines that will slowly begin to break down. The character is tempted to buy those machines but finds nothing poetic, beautiful or challenging in that. In the end, it might be the main character himself that is broken. Like I said, it's a tragic comedy. It could become a long running series by the look of things.
Last edited by Tora on Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Field of weeds

Postby Tora » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:26 am

There is a kerosene flame weeder in the old or barn. Somewhere deep down I think I've always wanted a flame thrower. Anybody wanna make bets on whether or not it too is broken?

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Re: Field of weeds

Postby Zasso Nouka » Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:47 am

An electric fence is your main defence against hakubishin, foxes, et all. Go with a foreign made one like Staffix from FarmAge and it will last much longer than some of the ones available in Home Centres. Several of the Stafix ones can run on mains or battery. If you are having a movable area I'd suggest using electrified netting rather than traditional wires as it's easier to move, not sure if Tobi go after chickens or not but hawks most definitely do but can be deterred with the brightly coloured foil tape for deterring birds or the lightweight netting (4m x 18 or 36m) for beans to climb up, drape that over the enclosure and your chickens will be safe. We have two chickens that spend most of the day outside their enclosure patrolling the veggies and so far they have been fine but in the past we lost several chickens to hawks.

On the subject of engine repair, Small Gas Engine Repair by Paul Dempsey is a great book. Having read that I now do most of my own maintenance and repairs, he has lots of good ideas and suggestions, if it's not the engine that's at fault then belts can be replaced and other parts welded. Also small machinery aimed at home users tends to be difficult to source parts for whereas kit aimed at pros tends to be much easier to get parts through a local dealer. That's one reason I'd choose a Stihl chainsaw over some of the locally made ones, I can go down to our agricultural dealership and order spare parts for it and they are there within 2 - 3 days. Same for the tractor or tiller, when it's time to give it a service I can go down there and order new filters and other consumables and they have them within a couple of days.

For your tiller I'd suggest finding an independent agricultural dealership that's not tied to a particular brand, their service guys will tend to have experience working on all sorts of different makers and models so could probably create a custom fix for you.

Flame weeders are awesome, defo give it a try. I mean what's the worst that could possibly happen ? Probably having the tank rupture and you engulfed in a ball of flame but hey ho :scared-shocked: :scared-shocked: :scared-shocked: , nothing ventured nothing gained as they say :eek: and it would provide a hilariously comic scene for your animated short :D. If it's a Shinfuji burner then their website offers a range of spares Shinfuji


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