how do you keep weeds from growing in your garden

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.

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.

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.

#1 – Stop Tilling And Digging In The Spring.

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!

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.

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.

That leads to our fourth and final point – covering those growing rows in the fall with a cover crop!

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.

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.

Yes, it really is possible to eliminate weeds from constantly invading your vegetable garden!

5 Tips To Eliminate Weeds Forever.

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?

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.

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.

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!

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.

#4 Put Away That Hoe and Rake – How To Eliminate 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.

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.

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.

After a season or two of cover crops, you will be amazed how few weeds actually even appear in your garden.

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.

Here’s two more long-time garden chores that can be eliminated from your to-do list : hoeing and raking.

Using a tarp to cover your garden 30 days (longer if you can) before planting will kill off most of the weeds.

It is tough enough to walk on and really keeps weeds from coming through. Even those perennial weeds with the pesky roots that break apart when you try to pull them out. A little mulch on top and you are good to go for the whole season!

5) Plant In Blocks So Plants Shade Out Weeds – If you plant in thin rows, only a tiny area is shaded. However, if you plant close together in blocks the plants will shade out most of the weeds. This will cut down on your weeds tremendously.

Not only does this organic weed control plan cut down on weed pressure, but it is also the best plan for growing a great garden.

9) Eat Them – If you can eat it, you don’t mind if it grows! Dandelion weeds are full of great nutrition. Or feed them to your worms and your chickens or ducks . Of course, make sure the weeds you pick are not poisonous.

No More Weeds – Naturally.

Note: Just be careful that things are watered well or you have a hose nearby, so you don’t set your whole backyard on fire.

They will make quick work of removing your cover-crops too so your garden is ready to plant.

Tackling weeds is a bit of work in the beginning, but these steps will make your life so much easier and your gardening experience so much more satisfying.

The best way to organic weed control is proper planning and following through on that plan. Your garden will produce more food, with less time and effort and you will be enjoying a bounty of wonderful vegetables, herbs, and flowers, with hardly a weed in sight.

Put your mulch on top to hold down your paper. That ensures your plants get watered, but the weed seeds that land on top, don’t. Then just tear a small hole in the paper where you want to place a plant or seed. By the end of the season, it will mostly be decomposed and it too will add humus to your soil.

When you are growing an organic garden , you don’t need just one tool, you need a weed control plan!

Here’s to a wonderful season in the garden!

But now you know the answer to the question of why you have weeds and what you need to do to fix it!

Let Me Count The Ways To Organic Weed Control In Your Vegetable Garden:

What Are Weeds?

Weeds! – Who has time for weeds? Not me that’s for sure! But what can you do about them without reaching for the chemicals?

Runners – Some weeds have runners and grow in all directions at once. They will put out the runners (rhizomes) above ground and underground. If you pull up one of the runners all the others will still live on happily. If you cut it up in pieces (say with a tiller) each of the pieces will start a new plant. Alas, poison ivy is a runner type of weed. So is bermudagrass.

Many weeds are great to eat while they are young such as dandelions, plantain, yellow dock, violet, wood sorrel, lambs quarters, chickweed & purslane. Make sure you check a reliable source such as this book Edible Wild Plants to make sure they are safe to eat.

An old Chinese proverb says “The best fertilizer is the shadow of the gardener” . How true, we can’t know what is going on if we are not there. Weeding is a good way to visit our plants regularly.

Pull Them By Hand – yes it is a lot of work but what better way of getting into your garden, getting close to your plants, and really seeing what is going on. It’s a great way to keep tabs on pests, diseases, fungi, watering, and the nutritional needs of your plants.

A word of caution. Many of the wonderful sources of mulch and compost such as straw, hay, and manure (because of the hay the animal has eaten) are now tainted by herbicides. Herbicides kill broad leaved plants…like beans, tomatoes, lettuce & peppers. Some herbicides will remain in the soil for decades! Make sure your source for mulch is organic.

What Are Some Ways To Kill Those Pesky Weeds?

Buckwheat (which my ducks love), millet, and sorghum are good choices for hot weather. In cooler weather, crimson clover, Austrian peas (great in salads), tillage radish, winter wheat, and mustard are great choices.

Choose well-made tools and they will make your job so much easier and will last for years.

Note: Agricultural Vinegar (20% acidity), as opposed to household vinegar (5% acidity), works much better and quicker .

Plastic – Like newspaper or cardboard, it is a great weed barrier. However, at the end of the season, you will need to pull it off and throw it away. It does have added benefits of warming your soil if you want to start your garden early or you live in a cool climate.

At the end of the season, your garden should be cleaned and mulched so she is not left bare all winter. This will ensure fewer weeds and healthier soil, not to mention a garden that is ready for planting, come spring.

I try not to till at all, although there are times you must. I suggest that, if you do, you cover those tilled areas with a tarp and kill the weeds that you just brought to the surface.

11) Water the plants you want, not the weeds – Weeds need three things to grow. Light, heat, and water. You can’t do much about the heat in your garden, but you can control the light and heat. By using drip irrigation or a soaker hose, you can water where your vegetables are, and at the same time discourage the weeds from germinating. An added bonus is you can add a timer so you never forget to water. Your plants will love you.

Cutting down weeds this time of year stops them in their tracks: they have nowhere to go but “weed heaven” because the root is not deep enough to save the weed plant. Hoe early.

While I am on the topic, here is a reminder to set up your rain barrels for the season. The warm, oxygen-rich water in a rain barrel is loved by all of your garden plants, especially the ones growing in containers.

5. Forget landscape fabric. Don’t use this stuff in the garden. The label reads, “weed barrier” as if laying it down will miraculously stop all weeds from pushing through. Truth is, organic material gathers on the top of the fabric over time, whether you place mulch over it or not, and weeds germinate in that organic material regardless. They put down roots through the landscape fabric and now you have a mess on your hands. Try pulling twitch grass out of this stuff! But , landscape fabric is good for laying under patio stones or interlocking bricks.

Weeding is to gardening what changing diapers is to parenting. I love my kids and would noto get rid change a thing about having them. Changing diapers was not a lot of fun, however, except the cuddly part at the end when I lifted them off the change table for a kiss.

Early in the season, I sharpen my battery of weeding tools to prepare for my assault on garden weeds. I use a bastard file to keep an edge on my hoe (and now, my new backhoe). It makes all of the difference.

Where your garden is concerned, the best way to prevent weeds without the use of weed killers is to place your plants close together when planting them. This “overcrowding” will require you to cull out the odd plant in the future or to cut them back aggressively when they grow together, but you will pull a lot fewer weeds in the meantime!

1. Start early. Right now the soil is warming up as it does every spring. The winter moisture in the soil and increasing warmth provides the perfect environment for seed germination. This applies to peas, carrots, onions and radishes (all of which can be sown in the garden now), and weed seeds. After a weed seed germinates, it puts down a root, which provides a conduit for soil-borne moisture and nutrients. The root also anchors the plant, preventing it from blowing away in a high wind. The deeper its root, the more difficult it is to eliminate a weed.

2. Plant densely. One of the best defences against weeds is to choke them out. Where lawn weeds are concerned, I recommend you use a quality lawn seed mix to overseed your lawn in the weed-infested areas to “compete” them out of existence. Be sure to put down 2 to 3 centimetres of lawn soil, rake it smooth, broadcast the seed, rake it smooth, and step on it with flat-soled shoes. Water until germination and the root is well established.

4. Manage water. We tend to overwater our gardens. In fact, about nine out of 10 plant “problems” are the result of overwatering. Weeds thrive in moist conditions: the more you water, the more weeds grow. Let established plants (versus the ones you just planted) become dry between watering, if you water them at all. Our weather provides a reasonably reliable source of water in the form of rain, so be patient and let Mother Nature do her job. Your mature plants will generally be fine.

3. Mulch. Ahhh . . . the miracle of mulch. I love finely ground cedar and pine bark mulch for weed prevention. When it is spread about 6 to 8 centimetres thick, it insulates the surface of the soil from the heating rays of the sun. It provides a barrier to weed seeds in the soil, preventing the majority of them from germinating in the first place. A thick layer of natural mulch will prevent more than 90 per cent of weeds from growing. Many perennial weeds, such as twitch grass and Canada thistle, will push through a layer of mulch but it is much easier to pull them out of the loose mulch than it is from the garden soil. Pull the weed, shake the mulch off the roots and get rid of it.

The difference between diaper changing and weeding is there’s a lot of ways to minimize weeding. With diaper changing, not so much.

Here are my Top 5 tips to minimize weeding:

Consider this: If you use my suggestions, you’ll have a lot more time for changing diapers. Or whatever.