Yes, it really is possible to eliminate weeds from constantly invading your vegetable garden!
Weeds truly are the ultimate enemy of gardeners. They are responsible for choking the life from vegetable and flower gardens. All while stealing life-giving nutrients away from our plants.
But they also wreak havoc in a multitude of other ways too. Like harboring pests and disease that lie in wait to attack your plants. And let the weeds go to seed, and the vicious cycle only multiplies.
Listen in to our latest podcast on eliminating weeds!
But it simply doesn’t have to be that way. Nor does it mean you have to spend endless hours in your garden dealing with them.
In fact, some of the most time-consuming chores that gardeners have been led to believe help with eliminating weeds are actually the main culprit in creating more!
By simply eliminating those weed promoting practices, and employing a few additional time and labor saving methods, your weeding problems can and will be a thing of the past.
Our test gardens here at Old World Garden farms are a testament to that fact. Many visitors to the farm are surprised we spend an extremely small portion of our time keeping the 40 x 60 vegetable garden weed free. As in less than 5 minutes a day in the summer!
Not only does a weed-free garden lead to a healthier and more productive garden, it is also a more enjoyable garden. And after all, isn’t that what every gardener wants?
Here is a look at 5 simple tips and secrets that can set your garden on the path to a weed free existence. And create a happier gardener all spring, summer and fall long!
5 Tips To Eliminate Weeds Forever
It is important to realize that eliminating weeds in a garden is a process. But don’t let that scare you. The process is both simple and rewarding, and will only get better with each passing year.
And that process all starts by keeping that rototiller out of your garden!
#1 – Stop Tilling And Digging In The Spring
This is the biggest time saving and weed free garden tip ever! Plain and simple, a rototiller causes far more harm than good. Both in creating weeds, and destroying your soil over time.
When you till your garden, all of the weed seeds that have been laying dormant on top become “planted” into the soil below. Thousands and thousand of seeds at a time.
And each time you re-till, the vicious cycle continues. But tilling creates additional garden issues beyond just weeds.
Over time, tilling breaks down the soil structure. In the process, it eliminates air channels in the soil that actually help provide the air, water and nutrient your plants need to survive and thrive.
And if you happen to till your soil when it’s too wet, and you’ll be left with an almost unworkable garden. So what is the answer? Well, they can all be found in the final 4 tips!
#2 Eliminate Bare Soil – How To Eliminate Weeds
Let’s face it, bare soil is an invitation for weeds and weed seeds to find a home. In fact, bare soil is at the very core of weed issues.
Instead of tilling and leaving all of that soil bare, it’s far better to cover it with mulch. Mulching your garden with grass clippings, straw or shredded leaves not only helps to stop weeds, but adds vital nutrients to your soil in the process.
When the soil is left exposed, weed seeds can easily find a path to germinate and grow. But by mulching and protecting the soil, you stop that process instantly.
And as you will see below, there are a lot of simple ways to keep your soil from being bare with mulch the whole year round!
#3 Mulch, Mulch and More Mulch! – How To Eliminate Weeds
Keeping weeds out of the walking and growing rows is just as important to the health of your garden as it is the look.
We use a combination of mulches in our garden space to keep it covered and weed free. It starts with a heavy 4 to 6″ layer of hardwood bark mulch in our walking rows. In our growing rows, we use a 3 to 4″ layer of straw, clippings or shredded leaves in our growing rows.
This eliminates ever having to till the garden. The hardwood mulch keeps the walking rows clear and weed free year round. And the mulch in the growing rows keeps weeds out during the garden season.
From time to time a few weeds will start to pop up. We simply pull them up on our daily 5 minute trips through the garden. If needed, we then place a bit more mulch on top of the area for a thicker covering.
It immediately looks great again and stays that way for weeks. It’s so much quicker and better than tilling up that soil between your rows. And it is a win-win with way less work for sure! See : How To Use Mulch In The Garden
#4 Put Away That Hoe and Rake – How To Eliminate Weeds
Here’s two more long-time garden chores that can be eliminated from your to-do list : hoeing and raking.
Remember tip # 1 about digging and tilling? Well, the same goes for digging and disturbing the soil in your garden during the season. Plain and simple, it causes more weeds than it eliminates.
Hoeing and raking your soil creates the same issues as tilling. It plants all of the seeds above ground back into the earth. And those seeds then become the next wave of weeds to pull and deal with.
The less you disturb your soil, the better. That includes when planting transplants in the garden as well. We use a post hole digger to create a clean, 8 to 10″ planting hole that is about 6″ in diameter for our transplants.
We then fill that hole with nutrients and cover with mulch. Not only does it make planting a breeze it disturbs only a slight area of the soil.
Unfortunately, big shovels and big holes disturb more surface area, and replant more seeds. The same goes for seed planting. We use a pick to create long, narrow channels to plant the seeds.
#5 ) Plant A Fall Cover Crop When Your Garden Is Done – How To Eliminate Weeds
That leads to our fourth and final point – covering those growing rows in the fall with a cover crop!
Cover crops really help eliminate weeds over time by protecting bare soil over the late fall, winter and early spring months. See : Cover Crops and Weeds
With the walking rows permanently covered with a heavier mulch, the only area of concern for winter are the growing rows. And a cover crop is the perfect solution.
They have obvious benefits to helping your soils vitality, but cover crops also help to form a barrier for blowing seeds to enter and lie in wait.
After a season or two of cover crops, you will be amazed how few weeds actually even appear in your garden.
Here is to eliminating weeds in your garden this year, and to your most enjoyable garden season ever! Happy Gardening, Jim and Mary.
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