Tips for Improving Soil, Soil Cultivation & Weed Control
Soil Surface Cultivation – Weed Control
Improvingquality with good is an important part of any gardening program and weed control or surface cultivation is crucial. Opinions are divided on the value of surface cultivation by scarifiers, hoes and mechanical tools and, in my experience, this depends a great deal on the texture of the soil and how it has been used or abused. For example, provided the soil is naturally friable or has been made so by many years of repeated manipulation, manoeuvring and cultivation, I have observed no difference in the yield whether the surface soil is stirred or not.
To make this point, three separate methods were used on the same crop:
- surface hoeing to remove weeds and loosen the surface;
- covering the area with black polythene;
- controlling the weeds by spraying.
The result was that the actual yield was almost identical in all three cases. A bed of antirrhinums gave a similar result. Part of the bed was occasionally hand weeded whilst the rest was hoed regularly; the results came out in favour of hand weeding.
On the other hand, hoeing gave the best results on heavier soils during dry hot weather. Therefore in order to use the most suitable methods of cultivation one is thrown back upon the experience and knowledge of one’s own soil and climatic conditions.
Unprotected light or sandy soils are, in my opinion, best left alone as the breaking of the surface seal releases moisture from the soil. Heavy clay or silty soils which crack when dry, will benefit from having the surface cultivated shallowly to provide a nine tilth. Again, after heavy rain this tilth may be formed into a sort of crust on the surface which must be broken up as it acts as a seal preventing air from entering the soil.