Gardening — 15 May 2013

Weeds are a little like bad breath.  Every morning they can be expected to show up, and if they aren’t taken care of …it just gets worse.  Weeds steal water, nutrients and sunlight from your garden plants and can stagnate or stop their growth.  In short, growing a garden in weedy conditions will lower the productivity of the garden.

A garden weed soon to become extinct

A garden weed soon to become extinct

For the home garden, getting rid of weeds usually means using brute force.  Weeds are extremely well adapted to your particular climate and are just waiting for the opportunity to make you work (so it seems).  They usually have a good root system, can grow very rapidly, and many can produce hundreds of seeds that can germinate years later.

Weeding is especially difficult when you have newly planted seeds.  This is also one of the most crucial times to do the weeding.  Don’t worry, however, not all is lost.  Remember, a weed is simply a plant in the wrong place.  Weeds don’t defy nature.  They still need soil, water, and sunlight to survive.

Once your plants are larger, weeding is less of a chore.  This is because the garden is established, the plants are larger, and there is less sunlight hitting the ground.  To help block sunlight to weeds try using grass clippings spread over areas where weeds grow.  The grass will act as a mulch that will block sunlight and will eventually break down as compost.  Instead of grass clippings you could also use straw, compost, shredded leaves or even wood chips.

Grass clippings to keep weeds at bay

Grass clippings to keep weeds at bay

Tips to help you get rid of weeds

Here are some tips to help you stay sane while getting rid of weeds:

  • Put seeds in a straight row.  This helps you know where your plants should be, and where they shouldn’t be.  It will allow you to quickly scrap over an area with a hoe to remove new weeds.
  • Once you’ve planted, try to avoid digging up the soil.  Each time the soil is turned over, fresh weed seeds are exposed.
  • Try to catch weeds early. small weeds are easier to deal with than larger ones.
  • For larger weeds, try pulling by hand when the soil is moist.  This will help the weeds come out easier.
  • Try transplanting seedlings rather than directly into the ground.  A more established plant helps it stand a better chance against weeds.
  • Use ground cover (mulch, grass clippings, other) to prevent weeds from getting sunlight.
  • Try to not let weeds go to seed at the end of your growing season.  This will prevent the seeds from haunting you next year and the year after that.

Do you have other ideas for how you deal with weeds?

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Ben

(2) Readers Comments

  1. I find it helps to try and be upbeat about the weeds. It is the best choice. I think.. thanks for the stuff to add to my mulch/compost. Cardboard is good for hard to pull weeds. For me it seems most of those are the grasses. they have lots of roots and can grow through deep mulches. Cover them with cardboard and some soil on the cardboard and they are no long a concern. When I see any weed flowering that is the ones I focus on. like you said..don’t let them go to seed.

    • I think using cardboard to cover weeds is a great idea. I may have to try that between some of my garden rows.

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