Weed Control

Weeds are a menace but they don’t need to be a deal breaker.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why novice gardeners abandon their fledgling garden plot is attributed to a lack of weed control. Sure, I get it, pulling and chopping weeds isn’t the glamorous part of growing any crop. However, there are cultural practices that one can implement to eliminate a large portion of your weed population. Keep in mind however, and all gardeners will tell you the same, that weeds are here to stay (just ask Monsanto).

One of my simplest solutions to get weeds under control is to cover them with 4 mil thick black plastic. This process basically cooks the top layer of soil, during the warmer months, and kills not only growing weeds but can also kill weed seed and soil pathogens. No, you won’t kill earth worms as they will go deeper into the soil profile to escape the heat. The above photo is an example of what my garden area looked like after having covered an 8′ x 15′ area for some 6 weeks in July. We added some compost and planted immediately with good success.

This procedure is especially handy when you’ve perhaps taken on too much garden area to manage efficiently. While you are working in other areas of the garden you can place a tarp or sheet of plastic in the area designated for latter planting. When the time comes, it’ll be free of weeds and ready for your handiwork. By the way, I don’t cover my garden soil during the winter months as we use a cover crop system or cover an area in straw.

The other tip to controlling weeds is to make it a frequent activity. It’s good exercise and it definitely makes your garden plot shine when your neighbor comes by to check it out. The more weed pulling and chopping you do, the easier it becomes. Especially important is to not let the weeds set and drop seed as this just perpetuates the problem.

Another strategy is to ensure that your vegetable plants are growing in fertile soil. This encourages good growth allowing the crop to better compete for available nutrients, water and sunlight. This doesn’t imply that this method eradicates weeds, but it will certainly suppress them.

There’s a lot more which can be said on weed control, but for now, this will do! On second thought, to have good control of your garden’s weeds, it isn’t necessary to employ synthetic herbicides. Let cold steel be your friend.