Around the Ranch
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
For most farmers, the first thing to do after waking up and making your cup of coffee is to take a stroll through the garden, a ritual that holds true for the agriculture staff at Rock Bottom Ranch. At this point in the summer the garden is a lively place, with flowers popping, squash buds blooming, and seedlings blossoming into grown plants. All of this beauty is a result of a lot of hard work and this year, the we learned a tough lesson in weed management.
This season we have encountered a large variety of weeds, including bindweed, lamsquarters, and a lot of thistle. It is very important to stay on top of these nasty invasives since they can quickly destroy a seasons’ worth of hard work in any garden. Weeds feed off the nutrients in the soil, leaving the cultivated plants around them starved and unable to grow.
We spend a good amount of time each day working to mitigate these weeds, either hand picking them, using a tool called a scuffle hoe, which has sharpened edges to cut weeds in a forward or backward direction, or we flame weed. In the flame weeding process a directed flame is briefly passed over a weed to heat the plant tissues just enough to kill them.
The panorama above is a "before" photo, and below is an "after" photo of our current carrot bed with Rock Bottom Ranch Agriculture Assistant, Alyssa Barsanti, who was very excited when the weeding was completed!
Still, as much as these quick growing, thorny plants annoy me, there are great life lessons to be learned from weeds. Below are a few that I have discovered while plucking weeds for countless hours in the Ranch gardens.
Weeds can thrive in very harsh climates with a diverse range of species. In life, change is inevitable. As humans we will be faced with plenty of ups and downs, disappointments and achievements. It is in these times where the ability to bounce back, reassess and adapt is a top priority.
Identify the root of all problems:
Weeds grow very deep into the ground. If you want to prevent a weed from growing back, you must pluck it out from the base. Every problem or challenge presented in our lives has a root issue and in order to understand the potential solutions, we must first identify where the issue began.
Consult others when uncertain:
In the beginning stages of a plant cycle, sometimes it is very difficult to delineate between a fruit or vegetable plant and a weed. Some weeds are incredibly good at camouflaging themselves amongst the growing plants. The best way to figure out what’s a plant from a weed is to ask an experienced gardener. In life we often find ourselves at a crossroad, unsure of which path to take. It is wise to look within your network of family and friends and ask for guidance on the issue. Never be embarrassed to ask for help.
Take a break to recharge:
Spending all your energy on one task can be overwhelming and discouraging over time. Weeding can easily become an exhaustive task. Realize that it is okay to slow down, take a breath and find some peace and quiet for yourself. If we don’t make a concerted effort to achieve this, we are robbing ourselves of a significant source of energy and balance.
The next time you find yourself faced with a garden bed full of weeds, remember that one man’s weed might be another man’s guide for a happy life.
All products can be purchased at the Aspen Saturday Market and at Ranch during open hours (Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturday 9AM – 1PM). Please call ahead to confirm availability or to place an order for pick-up. Eggs are available for sale at Hallam Lake in Aspen during open hours (Monday - Saturday 9AM - 5PM).
- Greens including kale, chard, spinach and mixed greens
- Root vegetables including sweet Hakurei turnips, Easter egg radishes, and big, beautiful Red Ace Beets
- Sugar snap peas
- Sweet Genovese basil
- Full Rock Bottom Ranch / Cap-K Ranch Beef inventory including New York Strips, Ribeye steaks, briskets, short ribs, ground beef and more
- Full pork inventory including chops, bacon, ribs, roasts, and ground pork
~ Hannah Itzler, Rock Bottom Ranch Agriculture Assistant
Rock Bottom Ranch is open Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturday from 9AM – 1PM with Farm Tours each day at 11AM. For questions about Rock Bottom Ranch please email Jason at [email protected]ature.org.