How to eradicate weeds from the garden and make gardening fun…
“Can you please tell me how to stop weeds from overtaking my garden!” Every garden season, that is the question that arrives in our inbox almost daily.
Weeds can be a frustrating enemy of the vegetable gardener. Not only can they make the garden look unsightly, but they wreak havoc on the health of vegetable plants. Weeds compete for the same nutrients and water vegetable plants need for healthy growth.
The real question is how can it be done without spending hour upon hour of backbreaking effort weeding the garden.
Well, first off – it can be. And surprising as it may seem, it can be done quite easily! How? By following a few simple practices that keep weeds from ever becoming established in the first place.
The 3 Keys To Eradicate Weeds From Overtaking The Garden
#1 Stop Disturbing The Soil
That’s right. Amazing as it may sound, doing a little less can go a long way in in helping to eradicate weeds.
The single, most effective way to stop weeds from taking over your garden is to stop tilling, hoeing, raking and working your soil so much.
Every time the soil is disturbed, hundreds, if not thousands of weed seeds are replanted. No matter what we as gardeners do, weed seeds will always find a way into the garden. Whether from drifting in from the wind, or from birds and other wildlife replanting them as they visit.
The key is to never help those weeds get established.
Tilling and hoeing the entire garden simply takes all of the weed seeds laying on the surface, where they may never germinate, and plants them into the soil. Tilling is actually a prime reason that weeds continue to multiply. The less you disturb your soil, the less weeds you will have!
#2 Mulch Like You Have Never Mulched Before
Mulch is and will always be the answer to a simple, low maintenance, weed-free garden. Never, ever, leave soil bare.
Instead of tilling and hoeing, use mulch to suppress and keep weeds from ever becoming established. Not only does it eliminate hours of work, it actually is more helpful to the health of your garden.
To keep costs at a minimum, you can use different mulches in different areas.
We use a heavy 4″ to 6″ layer of shredded bark / wood chips in all of the walking rows of our garden. It is an inexpensive by-product of local sawmills and tree trimmers. It can usually be sourced locally for as little as $20 a truckload, or even free from local tree trimmers and landscapers.
Wood mulch breaks down slowly and keeps weeds completely out of the walking rows of our garden. It makes it completely unnecessary to maintain any of the walking row areas of your garden by tilling or hoeing. That cuts your weeding chores in half right off the bat! We reapply as needed in our walking rows to keep them completely weed free.
In the growing rows, we use a combination of shredded leaves, straw and compost right up around plants. It suppresses weeds seeds from ever becoming established, and also gives back valuable nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. Use at least a two-inch to 3″ thick layer to be effective, and reapply as necessary.
#3 Cover Crop In The Fall
This fall, as your garden season comes to a close, plant a cover crop. They are the most incredible, inexpensive, weed-stopping crop in the world. Our favorite is annual rye, which grows thick and green, and fast!
Cover crops help eradicate weeds by protecting bare soil over the late fall, winter and early spring months. They form a thick, lush barrier that keeps blowing seeds from ever finding their way into the soil. They also build tremendous vitality into your growing rows.
In the Spring, we simply mow our annual rye cover crop off a few times until it dies back. Then, we just plant right through the crop. Talk about simple and effective!
After a season or two of cover crops, you will be amazed how little weeds actually even appear in your garden. You can find more about cover crops here : Cover Crops In Your Garden.
#4 Walk Your Garden Every Day!
One of the biggest secrets to maintaining a weed free garden is spending a little time in the garden every day! The key is realizing that 10 minutes of daily work is not the same as spending 70 minutes once a week in the garden.
Letting the garden go for more than a day or two lets weeds and the problems they bring multiply and magnify. Roots get deeper, weeds spread and multiply, and the garden becomes a jungle. What would take 10 minutes a day to maintain can take 8 hours when it has been neglected for a week or two. Spending just a little time in the garden every day can pay off huge!
Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary! If you would like to receive our DIY, Gardening and Recipe articles each week, sign up via email at the very bottom of the post You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to receive all of our latest tips and articles. This article may contain affiliate links.