- Green Beans
- Green Cabbage
- Head Lettuce
- Green Garlic
Its vines come up from the soil like the tentacles of a great mythical sea creature that reach out of the depths to devour any ship that passes. The delicate, bright green leaves may take you by surprise as they look so innocent when they first show you their flash of color. Come back in a week or two and you will be the witness of this tenacious weed wrapping itself in a death grip around all the vegetable in a 50ft radius, suffocating the plants with no hope of survival.
The only chance of managing this weed is cutting it back when it is young, before it has it’s chokehold on the vegetables. And then come back two weeks later, and do it again, and again, and again. Some plantings which normally only get weeded once—maybe twice—are having to be weeded four times in a season. A tiring task on the mind and body as each time you are wondering if your labor is even making the slightest impact on this robust creature.
Bind weed, a relative of morning glory, produces these beautiful white flowers that are the sign of death for a farmer, and we have a lot of it in our new field. Their roots run deep, commonly reaching down to depths of 14 ft to find ample water and nutrition even in the worst of droughts. Nothing can kill it except persistence, no chemicals have been known to successfully annihilate it. It is the greatest enemy of both conventional and organic farmers alike. They say if you were to cover a field completely with black plastic for three to five consecutive years you might finally kill it.
We look forward to the fall when this plant slows it’s growth and for when it’s greens start to die back in the cold. Thankfully it does not grow with this kind of vigor all year round! Come winter time we will be researching and planning out a management strategy for the next five years to eradicate the bind weed from the field. A task we are uncertain about considering the drastic increase in labor cost that it will take to keep this weed in check. Weed and disease management are the two most critical aspects of organic farming that can either make or break a farmer. This challenge is making us increasingly aware of all the weeds on the farm and in the end making us more attentive farmers.
As extension agents commonly tell farmers “the easiest way to get rid of bind weed is to sell your farm”. Despite the harsh reality of what we are dealing with, we are excited to learn more about the weed management of one of the worst weeds that a farmer can have. Thankfully we do not own this piece of land and are not tied down to it. It is a good lesson to learn that when looking for land one should always consider the soil and the WEEDS!