how to stop weeds from growing in your vegetable garden

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

And each time you re-till, the vicious cycle continues. But tilling creates additional garden issues beyond just weeds.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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

Keeping weeds out of the walking and growing rows is just as important to the health of your garden as it is the look.

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!

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?

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.

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.

#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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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 that process all starts by keeping that rototiller out of your garden!

The key to controlling garden weeds is planning! You can’t wait until the weeds start popping up to think about what you are going to do about them.

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

While I hate weeds in my garden as much as the next guy or gal, using chemicals injures more than the weeds. The bees, worms, and beneficial bugs and microorganisms are harmed by them too. (not to mention, they are not very good for us either.)

Learning How To Control And Manage Your Garden Weeds.

If you are checking your garden every day or two, it’s really not a big chore to pull a weed or two. If you pull them when they are small, it’s easy peasy.

One thing to note. Plants need light to grow, so covering them with any material that blocks out that light will cause them to die.

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.

Using chemicals to get rid of weeds can throw off your whole soil structure. There are a few classes of herbicides that actually poison the soil and will not let wide-leaved plants (like beans and tomatoes) grow in that soil for years if not decades.

Here’s to a wonderful season in the garden!

6) Vinegar – Plants don’t like vinegar. You can put vinegar into a spray bottle and using a dog cone to isolate the weed you wish to get rid of, spray just the weed. The vinegar will kill it clear down to the root, though you may need to reapply to kill the very strong and persistent weeds. Make sure it doesn’t get on your prize tomato plant though as it doesn’t discriminate between the plants you like and the plants you don’t.

No More Weeds – Naturally.

Every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds, but only those in the top inch or two of soil get enough light to trigger germination. Digging and cultivating brings hidden weed seeds to the surface.

Actually, weeds perform many jobs. They prevent erosion, keep topsoil from blowing away, pull nutrients from deep in the soil depositing them on top of the soil when they die, and keep the soil microorganisms moist and cool.

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

2) Mulch – Straw, hay, wood chips, grass clippings, leaves, and pine needles. Make sure you put down a nice thick layer. This helps keep away weeds, moderates temperatures, holds in moisture, limits evaporation, and reduces splash on plant leaves keeping them cleaner and reducing fungi. As a bonus mulch naturally composts in place putting humus back into the soil.

What Are Weeds?

So if you want to grow your own plants and don’t want weeds doing their job in your garden, you have to learn to do their job for them.

8) Fire – We all know fire kills plants. But what if you could target just the plants you wanted to kill. A propane torch is a great way to place the fire right where you need it. And Red Dragon flame weeder has a nozzle that makes it easy to use without bending over at all. It makes quick easy work of even the biggest garden.

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.

A cover crop is just a plant you grow that you don’t plan on harvesting. You can cut it off and let it lay right there, as a mulch, on your garden bed, or till it under so it can decompose and feed your soil.

And if that doesn’t work completely and you find a few weeds…..

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This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

A weed is any plant that poses a threat or is a nuisance. Weeds can grow in lawns, fields, gardens or any outdoor area. Typically invasive, weeds rob vegetable plants of resources needed for growth, including nutrients, water and sunlight. Weeds also host pathogens that can infect a garden with vegetative diseases. While there is no way to permanently eliminate weeds without killing your vegetables, there are many strategies you can use to minimize weed growth.

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Weeds can be frustrating when they start taking over your garden, but fortunately there are simple ways to keep them out. Whenever you notice weeds emerging, use a stirrup hoe or rake to disturb the soil around their roots. This will make them dry up and die. You can also lay an organic mulch, like dead leaves, straw, or grass clippings, on top of your soil, to suffocate the weeds. Just make sure you leave the areas around your plants bare. Another option is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to the soil to kill the weeds as they grow. However, herbicides can also harm other plants so choose one that won’t damage the plants you want to keep. For more tips from our Agricultural co-author, including how to build a raised garden bed to keep weeds away, read on!

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