Weeds are a huge problem for many gardeners. They drown out sunlight and air from your plants as well as absorb water and precious nutrients that your plants need. The battle against weeds will never end, but there are some simple weed control measures you can take.
The best way to prevent compulsive weed growth is to start with a weed free garden. Before planting, till all the soil where you want to plant. Allow the soil to dry out for a few days and then go back and pull all the weeds from the garden bed. This may be done 2-3 times to ensure you removed all the weeds. You will want to toss the weeds far away as the seeds may make their way back to the garden. If you desire you can bag them and throw them out or you could start a little fire to burn the refuse. You will not want to place weeds from your garden into your compost pile as the seeds may survive the composting process and still be viable when you place the compost into your garden. These weed seeds will grow in time and begin the process all over again.
Many weeds are creepers, which mean they spread by forming shoots above ground as well as under ground. This is one reason weeds are so difficult to control. If any part of the root system is left in the ground, the roots will continue to grow and send up new shoots. It is very important to create a weed proof border around your garden for this reason. There are many products on the market to obtain this goal. The most common is simple landscape edging. The hard plastic material is dug down into the ground about 4 inches, and has about 2 inches of plastic above ground. This will make it more difficult for the weeds to enter the garden. The roots will hit the plastic and have to go much deeper to get through. The above ground shoots will need to get over the plastic. This is not a “no weed” guarantee and you will need to keep an eye on the edging and pull any weeds that are getting close to climbing over.
If you choose to use herbicides near or in your garden, there are several vegetable safe herbicides. Many people choose to apply the herbicides in the fall after the harvest is complete. This will prevent new weeds from growing, and will not be applied to any vegetables you are planning on harvesting. Herbicides may be a bit harder to find in small quantities, but your local co-op or nursery should be able to assist you.
Aside from chemical controls, there are many manual methods of weed control. Of course this includes the obvious of picking the weeds by hand. This method is the most hands on, but is time tested to work great! Weeds are most easily picked when the soil is slightly moist, so you may want to lightly water the garden prior to weeding. You will want to mark your plantings so that you do not pull up your desired plants. Another manual weed control method is to cover your rows with mulch. Many different matters may be used, but the most common is straw. Hay should not be used as it contains seeds from many different plants that you will not want sprouting up in your garden. Any biodegradable product will work, such as old burlap sacks, cardboard pieces or even old leaves. You can choose to remove the product at the end of the gardening season if you wish. I would recommend pulling the materials up and saving them for use in the next growing season.
Since weeds are found all over your lawn you will want to control them outside of your gardening area as well. Be sure to pull all weeds before they go to seed to prevent the spreading and sowing of new weed plants in your garden. With some hard work you will be on your way to fewer weeds in your garden!