Rains at the end of June and super hot weather in the beginning of July have made for an even weedier field. So we’ve been weeding a lot. Weeding weeds with long tap roots and spikey leaves like thistle and weeds you can eat with omega-3 fatty acids like purslane. A weed is any plant you don’t want growing where it’s growing but weeds can help a farmer as well. They help by indicating your soil type (horsetail for example shows you have acidic soil) and they can help improve and condition soil (the long, strong tap root of a burdock plant helps break up heavy soils). At Vibrant Valley Farm we don’t use pesticides or herbicides to kill weeds. We either pull them by hand, use a walk behind tractor to harrow and cut them down or we use a hula hoe, which is also known as a stirrup hoe. A hula hoe has a double edge blade that forms a stirrup and connects to a long handle. Weeds are cut and killed right below the soil surface by moving the stirrup back and forth. Weeding creates a healthier habitat by aerating soil, disturbing pests and distributing moisture. The plants we want are able to thrive. Liz Milazzo, a farmer at the CASFS program in Santa Cruz, says that plants shine once you weed them.