The best way to control weeds in the control is to start with prevention.
Try these weed-prevention tips:
- Before planting vegetables in the garden, you can roll out landscape fabric down the rows where the vegetable plants will be planted. The fabric should be porous, and will need to be stapled down with "sod staples" or pins. This technique works especially well when planting on "raised rows" or beds. Cut "X's" in the fabric in order to plant your plants.
- After planting your vegetables in the garden, lay a few layers of newspaper on top of the soil and then lay mulch on top of that. I use a 2 to 3 inche layer of wheat straw for mulch. When wet down, this usually hold the newspaper in pace. If you don't want to use the newspaper, just apply the straw...or make your own organic compost and use it for a mulch. Not only will the mulch suppress weed growth, it will help retain moisture therefore reducing the amount of watering you would otherwise have to do.
- After your garden has been planted and mulched properly, disturb the soil as little as possible. Weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for many years. Cultivating the soil by raking, tilling, or turning it over uncovers these dormant seeds and within days youâ€™ll have weeds appearing. Once on the surface, they receive the water and sunlight they need to make them grow. In following years after the intial building of a new vegetable garden, use no-till growing methods, if possible.
- Destroy weeds before they flower and go to seed. Step on them, stomp 'em, sit on them...whatever you have to do to kill them. If you allow weeds to grow too large, they'll go to seed - then your problem becomes much worse.
- If you are not using mulch, limit the areas of bare soil which invite weeds. Plant vegetables closer together - without overcrowding - to cover open spaces where weeds can take hold.
- Use crop rotation in the vegetable garden. Some crops provide natural weed control.
- Plant a cover crop in beds in the vegetable garden that are fallow. Cover crops such as buckwheat or winter rye prevent weed growth - both are allelopathic - they contain natural growth inhibitors which release toxins that suppress the growth of certain weeds.
- Water each plant in the garden individually, or soaker hoses, drip irrigation, watering cans, and container watering systems that only water plants you want to grow, not bare earth between garden rows.
- Use a stirrup hoe - so named because it looks like the stirrup on a horse's saddle - to dig up weeds while they are young. Use a back-and-forth motion, which requires minimal effort. A hoe cuts weeds just below the soil's surface and doesn't disturb the soil enough to bring dormant weed seeds to the surface. Hoe's work better when the soil is dry.
- Hand pull any large weeds that you might have let get out of control - oh, that's right...you were on vacation for 3 weeks!:) Hold the weed by the base of it's stem, and make sure to pull out the whole root. The big weeds come out easier after a rain.
- Weed often enough to get rid of weeds when they're small. It's a lot less work in the long run, and keeps weeds from taking over.
- Discard pulled weeds. Left lying around, they can take root again, especially in wet weather.
- Sounds like a lot of work, huh? Not really, most of the tips provided here are only necessary when you don't use mulch! - and break a few other simple rules.
Anyway, you know how the old saying goes: "No pain, no gain!". A little hard work never hurt anybody. And some fresh, organic grown vegetables won't hurt you either!