Let's talk Amish and pigweed

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My 60'x40' garden was just recently taken over by pigweed. Last year it was prairie grass. The year before that it was water grass. I'm not a wimp about it, I don't mind weeding by hand and hoe (although those grasses are *really* hard to get rid of!). I spent hours yesterday a-hoein' and a-pullin', and realized that because of Y2k, my garden next year will have to double in size. It wouldn't be fun, but I think I could still manage weeding it by hand. But it got me thinking...how do the Amish control weeds in 100 acres of corn? For that matter, how did anyone 150 years ago deal with weeds and grasses in large fields? Heck, just the grasses alone can take over a field in a matter of ten days and dry it out so bad that 90% of the corn plants won't produce an ear worth picking...not to mention all of the broadleaves that spread like wildfire.

-- Level 3 (level3sar@clear.com), July 06, 1999


One way to control weeds in your corn field is to plant a cover crop such as clover or vetch. The cover crop crowds out the weeds and fixes nitrogen to the soil.

Another thing you can do to eliminate weeds from a new garden site is to plant buckwheat. Before the buckwheat produces seeds, chop it down. Till it in as a green manure. Then, replant buckwheat. After going this a few times you will eliminate the weed seeds from your soil and improve the soil's waterholding capacity, too.

-- walt (longyear@shentel.net), July 06, 1999.

geese n goats

-- Chuck, a night driver (rienzoo@en.com), July 06, 1999.

My friend who just left here...and is an avid gardner gave me this advice when I was commenting on "weed" problems. Pull big ones and put salt all around. It will help control weeds. Haven't tried it yet but thought I would pass it on!

-- Moore Dinty moore (not@thistime.com), July 06, 1999.

Here in east central Indiana, the Amish pull their field sprayers with a 4 horse hitch. Strange site, but it's how they control their field weeds. Garden weeds are controlled just like you....only they use kid power. When I'm expanding my garden area, I use Roundup or Finale. Kills all the plant, including the root. It's real important to break the seed cycle. Get'em this year before they go to seed. You'll thank yourself next year.

-- Ninh Hoa (tech@univ.now), July 06, 1999.

Thanks for all the resposes!

I had no idea that the Amish use chemicals and sprayers. Wow.

I do plan on doing the Roundup/till thing, but I'm looking at more long-term...the possibility that in the future chemicals will not be available.

So I'm still at a loss at how 19th-century (and before) farmers kept weeds and grasses from destroying their crop. I mean, 100 acres is a lot of ground, and I know that folks back in the 1860's here in Nebraska used to farm 160 arces.

-- Level 3 (level3sar@clear.com), July 06, 1999.

Level 3, basically in the old days (either with old tractors or with horses, but before massive chemicals) they would pull a cultivator down the rows. You can do the same thing on a small scale with either a small push-type cultivator or even a tined hoe. I do this by hand and it doesn't take long at all. For example, corn: after planting your corn, every few days walk down in between the corn and using your tined hoe just "bother" the dirt (that's what I call it). You aren't hoeing, you are just disturbing the minute roots in the soil that are wanting to become weeds. If you keep that up, the weeds never have a chance to grow. Always do it the day after a rain... the weeds have their biggest jump then.

They also have cultivators on small wheels that you can push between the rows that accomplish the same thing, but with less work.

Small-Time Farmer

-- Farmer (someone@somewhere.com), July 07, 1999.

Eat the pigweed. I know you can't eat it all, but it is a tasty boiled green.

Pigs REALLY like it also.

-- Jon Williamson (jwilliamson003@sprintmail.com), July 07, 1999.

My July/August issue of Small Farm magazine arrived yesterday. In it is an ad for a Weed Mop that may be just what you want. Find it at:


Another item of interest in the issue is an article on edible weeds that are being sold to gourmet restaurants. "Red-root pigweed is a common ingredient in Taiwanese stir-fries. Our Taiwanese exchange student got all excited when he say it growing in abundance in our garden... (also) I can sell all the purslane I can get for $9.00 a pound."

-- walt (longyear@shentel.net), July 07, 1999.

Just came in from my overgrown garden. Managed to weed out a few items. I used DACthal from farm B. Coop and it worked good in parts of the garden. Wouldn't it take a lot of roundup to do a large garden???? I had a garden in the same spot a few years ago and I think the weeds were better the first year than this one. I don't have enough time int the day to pull all these weeds!

-- Moore Dinty moore (not@thistime.com), July 07, 1999.

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