The Southern Agrarian

Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Tag: weeds

Weeds, Immigration, and Culture


Several years ago, in an effort to improve the quality of the soil in my garden, I bought a truckload of topsoil. It was carefully spread, then tilled and worked into the soil. The original soil and the new topsoil were mixed until they became as one. At first, it was great. The soil was darker and richer looking than the native sandy soil, and the plants that I grew there were bigger and stronger. Then came the weeds.

Hidden in among that rich-looking soil that I brought in to mix with the native soil were weed seeds. Specifically, nut-grass nodules. Here we are, years later, and I am still battling the nut-grass. It spreads its roots deep below the surface, and it stores nutrition in a large nodule deep down in the soil. Just cutting them off at the surface has no lasting effect – the weed springs right back in just a couple of days. Nut-grass must be dug out by the roots, one weed at a time. The nodule must be removed. The root runners must be removed. Everything about the weed must be removed, or it will continue to spread, sap the strength of the plants that are intended to grow there, and eventually they will take over completely.

Removing the weeds and their roots is not a painless process. It disturbs the roots of the garden plants, and it is slow and tedious work. There is no alternative if the garden is to be saved. It must be done.

Culture is a very precious thing, and it must be cared for and defended. A culture – just like agriculture – requires work to maintain. There are no shortcuts. Bringing in, or allowing in, foreign elements into a native culture brings with it serious risks. While on the surface, there may appear to be benefits to mixing cultures, the hidden costs will quickly show up. Like an invasive species in nature that finds no natural enemies, it takes over and the original culture disappears. Forever.

Getting To Know The Scuffle Hoe

Three Scuffle Hoes

Three Scuffle Hoes. The one on the right is made by Rogue Hoe and is built to last a lifetime.

My cousin introduced me to the Scuffle Hoe, and I’m grateful that he did. The Scuffle Hoe is a rather specialized tool. It does an excellent job of getting rid of small, just-emerging weeds in loose soil. The sandy soil that we have here in this part of The South is ideal for using this tool – especially when it is dry.

The Scuffle Hoe is used by sliding the blade just a bit below the surface to cut the weeds off below the ground level. If the soil is dry, that makes it easier to use, and the weeds dry out very quickly so they can’t take root again. It is much easier to control than a regular field hoe when working close to garden plants. Think of it as a maintenance tool intended to keep your garden clean. Use a regular field hoe for the big stuff.

There are two basic types of Scuffle Hoe, and they both work the same way. One uses a blade (shown on the left in the above photo, also known as a stirrup hoe) and the other is a triangular blade. So far, both have held up well, but I suspect that the triangular design is the tougher, more durable of the two.

If you haven’t used one before, make it a point to get one and try it out. If you have very hard packed soil or heavy clay, wait until you’ve improved the soil before trying to use one. If you start out with a clean garden, a Scuffle Hoe will make it easy to keep it clean.