To hoe or not to hoe?

The first thing you see when you take your first steps on the field is weeds. Everywhere.
The first challenge you face when you take your first steps on the field is hoeing. To hoe or not to hoe?

One thing is sure. If you want to sow you need to remove the weeds first and you need to do it effectively. Therefore you hoe, you sweat, you curse, you hoe. Finally you manage to pull out a decently clean plot, maybe even with raised beds and irrigation channels.

Once you are done you may sow. Hold on. How?

There are quite a few things to ponder, most of them depending on which species you are sowing, but let's make three points clear.
Point one, you may sow in rows and thin your plants, leaving only the best specimens to grow. This will greet you with strong and productive plants, and a lot of work to keep the weeds from taking over your plot while your seeds germinate and while your beloved crop grows. If the seeds are big enough to allow for row sowing  you will be able to get along with a light hoeing using a blade instrument. The space between rows will compact and make it even easier, at the same time allowing flood irrigation and creating a less favourable environment for slugs.
The downfall is that next year you will have a hard time breaking the soil clumps, especially if there's clay around.

Point two, you may simply throw around your seeds. This works especially well with tiny seeds. If the seed density is high enough, weeds will simply be swamped. Then you have have to thin apart the seedlings: beyond a certain density your plants will grow very stunted, weak and prone to diseases.  The point is about findind the right balance between swamping weeds and NOT swamping your crop. The seedling you remove when thinning, if edible, can be eaten or preserved by drying or under salt. This is a very wise thing to do.
A high enough plant density will also be able to keep the soil moist by shielding it from the sun and wind.
If the plants do not appeal to slugs, then you will be very happy with this choice.
This methodology works fine for basil and some other crops. Contrary to my expectations is didn't work at all for Chenopodium Quinoa. Quinoa is not aggressive enough and will get stunted pretty fast if there are other plants within a certain radius.  Look at these quinoa plants. they look healthy. All but two have long died from a heavy black aphid (aphis phabae) infestation. They look healthy in the picture, because the setaria viridis grass hasn't taken over yet. Being much more aggressive than quinoa, the latter grew too weak and stunted to survive in my aggressive environment.

Point three comes as a natural consequence. Don't resow the same things in the same plot and and sow highly resistant species. Quinoa is actually weak, out of more than 15 lines I tried or selected in the last two years, 7 didn't even set seed due to pollen sterility induced by temperatures above 30C. 2 managed to set seed but did it too late to be of any use. 2 others set seed but were too rain sensitive and mostly germinated on the plant. only 3 lines survived and did well: one is the orange colored specimen from Real Seeds rainbow quinoa variety while the other were two late-maturing lines I selected from a generic rainbow quinoa packet coming from a french ebayer. These three surviving varieties are pretty resistant to drought, aphids and seem to somewhat deal with the voracious stinkbugs attacking them (nezara viridula, the green stinkbug, plus another unnamed brown stinkbug).

Here are a few drying quinoa seedheads, these grew in a very crowded situation and still managed to do well, unlike the other failed specimens.

Next year they will be started in trays and then put into the field, in rows. They still require hoeing but I hope they will grow much bigger!

Others are still in the field being my own late-maturing lines and will be probably ready by october.

As for quinoa, my hope is to adapt it to my environment but don't trust it too much. Quinoa attracts probably too many aphids to be of any real use.

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