Flame Weeding: firing up for efficiency
Flame weeding is exactly what you’d expect: burning weeds with a torch! There are several benefits to doing weed management this way:
Time-saving: our beds are almost 200 feet, so weeding one on hands and knees would take a good bit of time! If we flame weed before planting, we can reduce the weeds in a fraction of the time
Creating carbon: burned up weeds decompose quickly and are food for our plants
Soil structure: without pulling up chunks of soil, we keep the physical structure that formed around the weed roots intact, which means sub-soil microbes and fungi are happier
As with anything, there are some cons - the current system we’re using to torch has to be carried on your back, making it hard to do more than 2 beds at a time without a lot of shoulder and back discomfort. Propane is fairly inexpensive, but of course as an oil product isn’t not renewable. And we’ve found that flaming too close to our drip irrigation will warp or melt it…whoopsie!
But, if we can do this at the right time, the weeds won’t be able to grow big enough to shade out our crops, or produce seeds to create more weeds. Our goal is to be a weedless farm by year 3! Stay tuned for progress!