Best tool for pulling close-in weeds?

nygardener(z6 New York)June 5, 2009

My two most annoying weeding problems are both to do with weeds that sprout very close to growing plants. The "good" plants are usually herbs, flowers, and veggies that have tender stems and thin roots, so I don't want to disturb them or their roots if possible.

The first is grass. It usually comes up in more than one long stem, and the first step is to find all the stems coming from a single base. Then how do I get underneath it to pull it by the roots  especially if there are many "good" plant stems right nearby, like in my tarragon patch?

The second are wild garlics or onions. They have thin but tough stems and emerge from bulbils that are very deep in the soil, usually at least 6 to 8 inches. Even if I get a big piece of underground stem, they will re-emerge from the bulbs. It's also not enough to loosen the soil and pull the plants and bulbs up, because the bulbs produce loose side cloves that stay behind when the main bulb is pulled. But that would slow them down and is better than just slicing the stem below the soil surface.

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masiman(z7 VA)

My favorite is the garden utility knives. Something like a Japanese Hori Hori knife. But even better (IMO) is the knife offered by AM Leonard.

For bulb type plants (garlic, onion, etc), I would amend the soil to be a little looser. Some compost and mulching will keep it nice and lose. I think some add sand to their soil also, but I am not sure if that always works or if it will sometimes make clay soil like concrete.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 5:11PM
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I have tried many different ways, tools and all. This is how I deal with this problem:

Get yourself a nice pair of knee pads and a good pair of gloves. Water the part you want to pull one or two hours before you start weeding. Get down on your hands and knees and pull with your hand. Grab the base of the weeds and pull, giggle and pull. I usually pull the roots out all together.

I had tried week hock and small manual tiller, Mantis, weed folk......anything you name. Get down on your hands and knees is the only way. Maybe a small hand suffle might help sometimes.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 3:54PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

I'll check those out. yungman, what's a hand suffle?

There seem to be a ton of short-handled weeding tools out there. Any other comments about their relative merits would be welcome.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:03PM
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It is shovel. It's my spelling!!!

I am Mr. Gadget!! I got all the fancy tools, in this case, I had bought and return many weeding tools, none really work. Important thing is to water the ground to soften it before pulling. 90% time the route will come out. The other 10% you need the little shovel to scoop it up.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:23PM
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I tried 'giggling' but it didn't help.
But it got the neighbors wondering.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 9:04AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Take regular hoe on each side plan dig down about 1 inch pull soil away plant this leave plant on small ridge turn hoe edge away from plant remove ridge with corner hoe blade. After removing weeds take hoe add soil back to plant covering any weeds in 2 leaf stage. A followup week later go very fast. planted seed crop is at depth of 3 time length seed so plant roots be below tilling should be above that close to plant. Putting 3 seed end to end give one a planting depth and hoeing ideal.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 7:08AM
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