Want to eliminate garden weeds in your garden this year? And for years to come? As crazy as it may sound – stop working so hard!
Believe it or not, many of the weeds gardeners deal with are the result of their own hard work.
And simply by working a bit less, weeding chores will nearly disappear.
How To Eliminate Garden Weeds
Weed seeds need to be “planted”. Just like bean, corn and tomato seeds do. Although gardeners intentionally plant vegetable seeds, weed seeds come at will. The seeds of weeds constantly find their way into the garden surface.
Most are blown in by the wind. Others are carried and left behind by birds and other wildlife. And still more perhaps by a child blowing on the ripe seed heads of dandelions just outside of your garden.
The dreaded dandelion seed head.
And how do those seeds on the surface get planted? Most of the time, by the gardener! Every time the soil is disturbed by tilling, shoveling or hoeing, the next crop of weed seeds is planted. It becomes a vicious cycle.
A gardener hoes or tills to get rid of the weed seeds that have sprouted. And in doing so, the next round of weed seeds are planted. So with that said, it’s time to stop working so hard! Here is a closer look at the two big keys to eliminate garden weeds.
#1 Stop Tilling and Hoeing So Much
The rototiller is the most prolific planter of weeds in the history of gardening. It might be a terrific tool for ripping up sod and preparing soil for a new garden. But beyond that, rototillers actually create a tremendous amount of work and problems in an established garden.
Not only are they expensive to buy, maintain and use, they are weed planting machines. Throughout late fall and winter, weed seeds find their way onto the surface of the garden. They lay there dormant, simply waiting for a chance to find their way into the soil. And in the spring, here comes the rototiller to help. Rototillers plant huge amounts of weed seeds as their tines rip through the soil.
And the weed cycle begins.
Once that cycle starts, most of a gardener’s work is spent keeping those sprouting weeds out of the freshly tilled rows and from around plants.
So what happens?
No-till garden cover crops play a major factor in eliminating weeds from the garden!
The tiller is used again every few days to till under the weeds in the rows. And a hoe is then used to work weeds between the plants. All of which simply re-plant more weeds seeds. It all creates a tremendous amount of work for the gardener.
All of that tilling and hoeing causes additional issues with the soil structure in a garden too.
The heavy foot traffic and wheels rolling behind a tiller compacts the soil. And nothing can stunt a vegetable plant’s growth like having it’s roots compacted.
It is one reason a Raised Row Garden works so well – there is simply never a need to till!
So rule number one – stop working that soil so much!
#2 Cover Your Soil – Always!
So how do you stop working the soil so much? By covering it.
It really is that simple. When soil is covered, very few seeds ever find their way to germination.
During the growing season, start by covering all of your walking rows with mulch. This way, you simply never ever have to maintain them.
For us, we use a heavy 6″ thick coating of bark chips. But you can use straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves, or even newspaper or cardboard.
Next, mulch around plants to keep the weed seeds out. We use a heavy 2 to 3″ mulching of compost and straw around our plants and in our growing rows. It keeps out weeds, and the compost provides added nutrients to the plants.
You can also use straw, shredded leaves or even grass clippings in this area as well.
But whatever you do, cover bare soil in the garden! When you do, it is amazing to how quickly it will simply help you eliminate garden weeds.
Cover Crops In The Fall
As for the final step, be sure to plant a fall cover crop every year. Leaving garden soil bare over the winter is an open invitation to create next year’s weeds.
And cover crops also put nutrients back into the soil. Nutrients that the vegetable crop took out while growing. Source.
So put away the tiller, put down a little mulch and grab your favorite beverage. And sit down and watch the weeds not grow this year!