Taking advantage of a brief respite from the rain yesterday, we headed to the farm to do some cultivating. The difference between weeding and cultivating is that weeding involves physically removing established weeds from the soil, whereas cultivating pre-empts the weeds – getting them when they’re young and only just germinating. This saves a lot of time and effort if you can get on top of it (and stay on top!). By cultivating lightly using special hoes (such as Eliot Coleman’s ‘collinear hoe’), you minimise soil disturbance, preventing even more weed seeds from being exposed to the sun and air and thus germinating. The alternative is a lot more work, either using larger, heavier chipping hoes to cut out the established weeds, or pulling them by hand. No matter how good you are at setting up a good cultivating routine, there is the inevitable hand pulling to do, but frequent, shallow cultivation definitely makes things easier.
While we were there, we also started laying out the benches for washing and bagging our produce, and were paid an over-the-fence visit from no less than four Italian paesani offering tips about how to remedy our disappearing fennel dilemma (the verdict: install some rat traps near the fennel and see what they catch!).