A stale seedbed is an old technique for getting rid of weeds and can be used both in a back yard garden and on a larger scale like at Rumar Farm. The idea is that you allow the non-dormant weed seeds in the top layers of soil to germinate. Then, once the weeds have established and grown their first few leaves, you remove them – being careful not to disturb the soil too much – before direct-sowing your chosen crop. This means that you’ve cleared out the competition and it should reduce the ongoing need to weed.
A 3-STEP GUIDE TO MAKING A STALE SEEDBED
Here is a step-by-step guide to making a stale seedbed at home:
- Identify a sunny, sheltered spot in your veg plot that would lend itself well to early sowings. Dig it over well and rake thoroughly to remove large stones and break up soil clods.
- Wait until a rash of weed seedlings appears. (this could take anything from one to three weeks, depending on outdoor temperatures). Once well-emerged, shallowly hoe the weeds off.
- With the soil surface and upper layers now clear of weed seeds and seedlings, sow your chosen crop. Again, resist the temptation to disturb the soil too much as this brings more weed seeds to the surface.
WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS OF A STALE SEEDBED?
Different types of weeds can have different speeds of growth, as well as different optimal growing conditions. This means that it can be hard to predict when all the weed seeds in the shallow layers of soil have been ‘flushed’ out – and new ones may still appear once you’ve planted your crops.
CAN YOU TRANSPLANT INTO A STALE SEEDBED?
Although direct sowing tends to disturb the soil less, you can also transplant seedlings if you do so very carefully. You don’t want to bring any weed seeds that are deeper down in the soil closer to ground level, as this would give them more chance to germinate.
WHEN SHOULD YOU START A STALE SEEDBED?
As mentioned above, it can be hard to predict how long it will take for the weed seeds to germinate. But as a general guideline, and providing growing conditions are adequate, set it up at least two weeks before you intend to sow or transplant your crops.
We still have lots of plants left for sale, visit our on-line store for easy order and pickup options. Check us out at https://rumarfarm.ca/product-category/PLANTS/
Ruth and Marc
Reference – Home and Gardens – March 15, 2023