A Weed Free Garden: Favorite Tools
By Jake Fetterman
Here at Rat City Studios the garden is flourishing. Come Visit during one of our annual events! We are beginning to see the early summer vegetables sprouting and the flowers are blooming left and right. But of course with the sprouting and blooming, the weeds and the self seeding plants that we love, are getting a little too prolific. They are spreading everywhere. If this year, like at Rat City Studios, you have decided to turn some of that lawn or that forgotten area full of weeds into a raised bed, then good for you! But there is nothing more frustrating than trying to having remove weeds that don’t like to come out of the ground. So it is important make sure that you are really weeding the area that you are turing into a raised bed and making sure that it is root free.
Begin by outlining the area of the raised bed by edging with a shovel or a digging fork. Pry and or shovel up to get all the roots out, because roots left behind will usually become plants again. Though remember, it is really hard and kind of impossible to get rid of everything, but if you stay on top of it when it is done it is pretty easy. Once you have the outline use the digging fork to loosen up the rest of what is inside the shape you have created.
Now with everything loosened up, start in with the weeding sickle. I grew up using this as I learned to garden with my mother. We swear by its effectiveness (coupled with attention and elbow grease of course)! This tool, originally from Japan is called the Nejiri Kama. It is excellent for getting plants that have long roots that break really easily, like grass, euphorbia, and the bane of every gardener's existence: Morning Glory (aka bindweed). Dig in gently to find the direction that root is traveling. When pulling bindweed you have to be really gentle, if it isn’t coming out easily don't pull harder, try to loosen up the soil around it before continuing to pull it out.
Once you have got everything out of the soil use the digging fork to turn the soil while adding compost or fertilizer depending on the quality of your soil. And then plant away! Every gardener serious, or not s serious should have this tool.
There are several versions of it but the best one in my experience has been really sturdy and stiff ones with “made in japan” printed on the base. I have only been able to find them online at Gemplers and locally, they sell the Nejiri Kama and the american version at West Seattle Nursery.
I learned everything I know about gardening and landscaping from Luba Fetterman, my mom, who owns her own landscape design business called Harmonia Landscapes. She has written many blog articles! If you are interested in reading those or getting into contact with her about landscape design you can see more information about her here.