Weeds! They pop up in the garden as soon as you turn your back on them. If dealt with quickly, they will not be a problem. Whatever you do, DO NOT let them go to seed!
Here are a few ways to keep them at bay.
Plant your fruits and vegetable close together.
The weeds will have a harder time taking hold if they are competing for water, nutrients and light. One method of gardening is Square Foot Gardening (Mel Bartholomew)
lay down a weed barrier. Weeds need light to germinate (and water of course; but not as much as you may think) – by keeping the unplanted areas dark, you will inhibit weed growth.
When pulling your weeds, don’t dismiss them all as noxious.
Some are edible, and are packed with nutrients. Even the dandelion has some good traits, such as high in vitamins (the young leaves are best). The most important thing to remember is to never, ever eat dandelions (or other weeds/plants) that have been sprayed. If you are unsure, it is best to toss them in the compost heap.
How to get rid of weeds.
Some weeds are easy to get rid of, while others have some defenses to keep them well rooted. That edible dandelion has a taproot that will reach down several inches, making it difficult to pull. The drier the soil, the deeper that taproot will go. There are some garden tools on the market to help you rid your lawn and garden of dandelions without harmful sprays, but be warned they do take time and effort. When dealing with a weed with a taproot, try to get the entire root pulled. If not, it will branch out and produce a bigger cluster of dandelions. That taproot of the dandelion isn’t all bad, as it can be washed, dried and ground up to be used as a coffee substitute.
If you have a garden plot with spaces between your rows, the weeds will seem to pop up overnight – especially after a good rain. The easiest way to get rid of them is to use a rototiller; this way the weeds get worked back into the soil and break down to feed your fruits and vegetables. If they have gone wild and gone to seed, pull them by hand and burn the plants. Even the hottest compost pile may not kill all of the weed seeds. Using a rototiller on weeds that have gone to seed is asking for trouble.
Pull weeds when they are little.
They will be less of a problem if they aren’t given the chance to get a good foothold. Don’t wait until they are bigger than your vegetables.
Weeds can, and will, takeover if given the opportunity. Get the upper hand on them, before they get it on you.
Thank you to Diana Ziomek for her assistance in writing this post.