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How to Use a Flame Weeder When Direct Seeding

Flame Weeder

The flame weeder is a rectangularly shaped metal tool that is 30 inches wide; the width of permanent beds used in a market garden. The rectangular structure is attached to a propane tank and produces small flames. The flames and the metal structure are supported by one wheel that you use to roll up and down the bed from a metal handlebar that is a safe distance away from the flame. This tool is used to kill weeds that emerge after you’ve made a stale seedbed. On the models we like and recommend, you carry the propane on your back. 

flame weeder
The flame weeder is used to kill weeds that emerge after you’ve made a stale seedbed.
Photo Credit: Alex Chabot

When to Use a Flame Weeder for Your Carrots Production

Investing in your carrot production is a wise move. At the farm, we seed carrots every week throughout the season. It is by far one of the best sellers outside of our greenhouse crops. For a successful harvest, it is imperative that you weed at the right time with the right tools. We use the flame weeder and it is our first line of defence against the assault from weeds.

Stale Seed Bed Strategy and Timing

The strategy most commonly used for the flame weeder is the stale seed bed strategy. First, prepare your garden bed for direct seeding of carrots (broadfork, fertilisation, irrigation, etc.). Wait one week before seeding your carrots along with a handful of beets at the end of your row. Around one week later, once the beets have germinated, it is your time to flame weed!

flame weeder
Walk down the row at a slow and steady pace.
Photo Credit: Michaël Tougas

Walk down the row at a slow and steady pace making sure you have taken the time to burn all the weeds. This gives slow-growing carrots a fighting chance to grow before the weeds overcome them. 

Is the flame weeder only for carrots? 

Carrots are our main use for the flame weeder as we seed multiple beds a week. But we also use the flame weeder before other direct seeding crops. However, the stale seedbed strategy isn’t reserved for the carrots uniquely. If we’re going to direct seed in a bed that has a few young weeds, we will simply just flame weed before direct seeding. 

You want to burn the weeds when they are just surfacing and are still young.
Photo Credit: Michaël Tougas

If used correctly, the flame weeder is an awesome tool. There is a certain level of timing required for optimal results. As is the case with most weeding operations, you want to burn the weeds when they are just surfacing and are still young. Once you have any true leaves on your weeds, they are too developed and will not die with the flame weeder, only weakened. We recommend this tool if you are a grower that does any form of direct seeding. Especially if you seed at least two beds of carrots a week. 

Need more information?

If you need more resources to learn the best practices for using the flame weeder and other market gardening tools in bio-intensive gardening, please join us at the Market Gardener Masterclass. The Masterclass documents all of our tried and true work methods that will guarantee consistent results and optimize your precious time and keep your body working for years to come.    

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