As the summer progressed and lush greens surrounded us everywhere, we weren’t spared by the unwanted greens, i.e. weeds. The German word is much kinder:Unkraut= non-herb. The vegetable garden had priority in this ongoing battle. Often times, even the kids were recruited to pull some—after some instruction as what were weeds and what not. Mac had laid timber planks on the paths between his planted rows of potatoes, strawberries, and the young vegetables. In particular smallish courgettes/zucchinis and onions were doomed if we didn’t make regular guest appearances. Remember, the rows were 50 m long each. When using a hoe proved too risky around smallish specimen, you would squat down, then kneel, and eventually sit on the planks. Already in Germany, where our garden had been on a smaller scale, our children had spent a fair amount of their toddling years and childhood among the greenery. In particular Amy, who started walking late, was often parked on the ground were we worked. We had to keep an eye on her to prevent her from eating the dirt.
No question whether an ‘aspiring’ organic farmer would avail of the use of herbicides or not, understandably. We learned to mulch which was a novelty then. You couldn’t just buy mulch in Ireland. We used grass clipping which have a tendency to rot in the Irish rain. We used layers of newspapers which get unsightly and torn in too bad weather soon. Sheet mulch (black plastic sheets) came into fashion only later. So mainly it was back to backbreaking work.
The farmyard, however, made of tarmacadam, was a different story and a bone of contention between us. Mac didn’t mind letting the grass grow there. And grow it did nicely. The traffic of crossing animals and tractors encourages weed growth exponentially. Initially, I tried to pull the weeds by hand. The yard was about 10x30m. The width and work involved didn’t constitute so much of a problem. No, pulling the weeds unfortunately also tore up part of the tarmac in little patches. What to do if Round-up was not an option?
Mac bought a flame torch for me. Since it was my job or least desire to keep the yard clean.
With some trepidation I learned how to use it. It took about 2-3 hours to do the whole yard. In contrast to what handy commercials show you, you had to repeat the procedure at least once a day or two later. Otherwise the flame wouldn’t really destroy the cell structure and root as promised. Low and behold, it only spurred the weeds growth! Did I mention you can only use the torch on dry weeds or in dry weather? Unfortunately, the Irish weather tends to include a lot of regular rain. How to use a flamer http://www.gameco.com.au/index.php?idp=26&mod=page. In spite of the proper gear, I was fighting a losing battle.