What exactly is cultivating, anyway? After all, this is gardening I'm talking about, not farming. All it really means in the context here is stirring up the soil and fighting weeds. These jobs, quite honestly, always seem to go hand in hand. You need to do them for the good of the soil and the survival and prosperity of your garden plants. Cultivating tools exist to make the job easier and more efficient, regardless of whether you're tending a vegetable garden or a flowerbed.
Removing whatever is growing in a spot (whether weeds or wild plants or old lawn, or whatever) creates open ground — which, like a good gardener, you should improve prior to planting (see Chapter 4). So you do everything you're supposed to do, and then what happens? A crust forms. Water may puddle and seedlings may strain to poke through. You need to gently break it up, and that's where cultivating tools come in.
Weeds love freshly cleared ground. They're fast; they're aggressive. They creep in, or birds and other animals deliver them. Seeds that had been slumbering below the surface now have the light, warmth, and moisture they need to sprout. However they arrive, weeds elbow out the plants you want and hog all the resources to boot. What to do? Mulch if you can (see Chapter 4 for details) and cultivate!
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