Weed control can be a difficult task for any garden. A few years back, just after my wife and I purchased our first home, I decided I was going to try my hand at gardening for the first time. My grandmother loved gardening and I figured there probably wasn’t much too it. Dig a hole, plant what you want, water it, harvest. How hard could that be, right? My wife and I decided we’d compete for a little with our gardens. I’d grow a flower garden in the front with a couple of fruit trees to boot. She’d grow a vegetable garden in the back. Little did I know, my wife knew a thing or two about gardening. She tended to her garden regularly, mine was quickly overtaken by weeds. Within a few short months, my garden was gone, I gave up and planted grass in its place. Meanwhile, my wife’s garden was flourishing with tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers and all sorts of delicious vegetables. The difference, at least one of them, was vegetable garden weed control.
So how do I keep weeds out of my vegetable garden? There are actually several all-natural solutions to keeping weeds out of your vegetable garden. This means you can spend less money and time on useless products and see actual results in just a few quick days.
Nobody wants to look out into their vegetable garden and see it has become weed territory. We need to ensure we’re taking every step necessary to fend off weeds and be confident in a strong crop that yields plenty of delicious vegetables- and here’s how.
Stop Needless Fiddling with Your Garden
Plenty of people insist on tilling and hoeing their garden for hours on end, daily. But the fact of the matter is, you need to leave your garden alone as much as possible. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little bit of digging and hoeing here and there, in fact, it’s a good thing. But going deeper than 2 to 5 inches every time you hoe will only bring more weed seeds to the surface, ready to grow and disrupt your garden. This will help with vegetable garden weed control.
If you’re going to hoe your garden make sure you are not going too deep. If for any reason you need to dig a deeper hole, you need to make sure you’re covering the hole immediately with soil and organic material (mulch) which we will talk about soon.
Mulch, Mulch, and More Mulch
When it comes to keeping weeds out of your vegetable garden, mulch is your best friend. You will find that simply applying mulch on top of your soil is the easiest and simplest way to get rid of 50-70% of your weed problem. It only takes a few minutes to apply mulch on top of your soil and you will be glad you did.
So what can you use for mulch? There are several organic and inorganic options. The cheapest and simplest mulch to throw atop your vegetable garden is leaves. Pull plenty of them off of a tree and toss on top for an easy mulch that works wonders. Live in a rural area? Try hay. Other organic options to consider include sawdust, pine needles, wood chips, straw, and compost. Make sure it’s no more than 2 inches deep, as anything deeper can deprive the soil of much-needed oxygen.
Inorganic options for your garden include newspaper, cardboard, and black plastic. You can find newspaper and cardboard on your own, but black plastic will likely need to be purchased at your local garden center.
Consider Cover Crops
Cover crops are so beneficial to vegetable gardens. Not only do they fend off weeds in the garden, but they also rejuvenate lost nutrients back into the soil while enhancing the fertility of the plants and breaking up any compaction.
The best options for cover crops are legumes, including alfalfa sprouts, field peas, mung beans, and red clover. Other excellent options for your garden include barley, wheat-grass, and winter rye. These are to be planted and, once grown, be worked back into the soil. The process then repeats itself to ensure your vegetable garden is healthy and strong.
Pull When Wet
If you notice that your garden is starting to become riddled by weeds, you may start to feel overwhelmed. Lucky for you, there’s an easy way to get rid of most of the weeds in your garden. All you need to do is simply wait until after a good rainy day. This may be hard if you live in a climate where rain is rather scarce, but if you’re in an area where rain is a likely weather condition, you’re in a heap of luck.
After about of rain, weeds become far easier to pull. Head out when the rain stops with your favorite pair of gloves, a sitting pad to make it easier on your knees, and possibly a fork or other favorite gardening tool to help pry out the weeds.
Chop the Tops
If for some reason you are simply unable to remove the weed completely from the ground, the next best thing to do is to chop off the top. You want to get as close to the root as you possibly can. By doing so, you’re saving yourself a bit of time before the seeds begin to spread.
Chopping off the top of a weed will also force the weed to use up the rest of its resources it has stored in the roots, which means it is likely to shrivel up and has less of supply for root buds. This means fewer weeds in the very near future for you and your garden!
Plant Closer Together
When you’re planting your garden, you should try and be a bit more strategic. While it may be fun or easy to just throw your seeds randomly into your garden, this can leave bare spots that give plenty of extra open space for weeds to move in and grow- and that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
Did you know by spacing your seeds closer together you have a 25% less chance of a weed problem? It’s true! So when you’re first starting out with your garden or wanting to grow a new crop, spend a little more time ensuring that you’re planting your seeds CLOSE together. The closer they’re planted together means less room for your crops to be overrun by pesky weeds.
Be More Strategic with Watering
It may be easy to pull out your hose and water the whole garden, but you should understand that doing so is exactly that: watering your WHOLE garden, weeds included. So how should someone be more strategic with their watering to ensure they’re not reaching the weed seeds too?
The answer is simple: try using a hose with a soaker or a drip soaker underneath the mulch so it only reaches your vegetables. This will leave the weed seeds sitting on top completely untouched by water, which will ultimately mean death to the weeds.
By using the ‘drought’ method, you can get rid of over 50% of your weed problem in a flash. You might have to go out and buy a special type of irrigation for your garden, but it’s well worth the price when you’re getting rid of all those horrible weeds.
While we already mentioned the use of wood chips as an organic method earlier, we felt the need to take a double look at the handiness of wood chips when it comes to fending off weeds in a vegetable garden.
Did you know that wood chips not only stop new weeds from growing, they’re also known to kill off existing weeds? While you NEVER want to mix wood chips directly in your soil (this can end up killing off your crop), placing around 2 inches of wood chips on top of your weed-infested garden can reap huge benefits. It will destroy existing weeds and stop new ones from forming. Excellent!
Vinegar is so handy for a multitude of things, but did you know it can also kill off those annoying weeds? All you need to do is put vinegar inside of a spray bottle and spray it on the weeds. However, you need to be incredibly careful when using this trick to kill weeds in your vegetable garden. If the vinegar hits your precious vegetables, they will die off too.
You may want to try and use different materials to close off the spray and hit the weeds directly, such as a dog cone, a paper towel roll, or some type of small box.
Weeds sometimes get a bad reputation; some of them are actually good! Weeds such as dandelion, clover, plantain, chickweed, and violet are completely edible and make for a great ingredient to spruce up any dish. Or simply eat them raw!
If you find you have some of these edible weeds in your garden, you are welcome to use them for your own advantage. However, if the site of these edible weeds is still too much for you, go ahead and chop them off, too. It’s up to you!
There are truly plenty of options to living a weed-free vegetable garden life. By far the biggest recommendation is to pile on the organic matter as much as you can. Put it INSIDE and ON TOP of your soil for long-lasting results.
Is landscape fabric safe for vegetable gardens?
While landscape fabric is technically an option for vegetable gardens, it isn’t used too often as the negatives seem to outweigh the positives. It’s an excellent option for fending off the weeds as the seeds are buried underneath the fabric and also helps to retain soil moisture for plants. However, landscape fabric discourages earthworms from roaming in the garden, which is essential for healthy plants and soil that is not impacted. Landscape fabric also stops organic mulch from replenishing into the soil since it acts as a barrier between the mulch and vegetables.
Does Newspaper prevent weeds from growing?
With a layer of wet newspaper (I actually prefer cardboard because it has less ink that’ll seep into the ground) covered with organic mulch, you create a powerhouse storm for removing weeds from your garden. It’s very beneficial not only in getting rid of unwanted weeds promptly, but earthworms seem to love the area where the newspaper meets the soil. They come in packs and help to nourish your plants and soil, so this is obviously a great choice when it comes to be weed-free.