weed control techniques

Weed Control Techniques

Weed control techniques are high on any gardener’s list here on the West Coast (wet coast this winter!). No matter how particular you are in the fall, these pesky plants seem to crop up and green up long before anything else in the yard.

Instead of spending hours ridding your beds of weeds, there are several methods that gardeners have found to inhibit their growth and make the goal of a weed-free yard much closer to success.

7 Weed Control Techniques

Use Mulch Whenever Possible.

Mulch is a covering that inhibits growth by blocking daylight. Use it between rows in the vegetable garden, keeping the mulch a few inches from the base of your plants. Some insects and pesky critters love using mulch as a home and you need to keep them from your valued plants.

You can use quite a variety of materials for mulch – straw, shredded leaves, chipped bark or wood, compost, or even shredded newspaper. If the weeds are really persistent, lay down a layer of damp newsprint and then cover it with 2 inches of mulch.

Plant a Cover Crop

Once you’ve harvested your vegetables in the fall, and moved all the plant debris to your compost bin, plant a cover crop in the garden beds. These plants cover the soil over the dormant season, protecting it from erosion and reducing the growth of weeds. Some of the more commonly used  crops are red clover, fava beans, buckwheat, barley, field peas and rye.

Cover crops are sometimes called ‘green manure’, since once they have grown, but before they set seeds, they are cut and tilled back into the soil. If you decide to use a cover crop to protect your soil, wait for a month after you till them in, as they will tie up the available nitrogen in the soil temporarily as they decompose.

Minimize Soil Disruption

Have you ever notice that once you rake or turn your soil that weeds seem to pop up overnight? Many weed seeds are stimulated to grow by exposure to light, which is what you do when you till the soil. An interesting German study came to the conclusion that by turning the soil at night, weed germination could be reduced up to 78%!

Try working your soil in the evening, at dusk.

Dig and Chop

Sometimes it comes right down to the manual labour. If you’ve got some persistent weeds or roots, you need to dig them out. Remove as much of the roots as you can. Weeds like dandelions, couch grass and nettles just need a small piece of root to regrow.

weed control techniques

Stinging nettles – pesky weeds or nutritious plants?

If you can’t dig them out, then chop off their heads with a hoe once a week. They may come back, but they likely won’t set seeds. Weed control techniques can be work!

Encourage weeds to grow early on, by warming up the garden soil by laying clear plastic over the beds. Once the weeds are a few inches high, pull or dig them out. Then you’ll have clean weed-free soil to plant your crops.

Close Planting

Set your plants close together, and you’ll find fewer weeds can get a toe-hold. Try inter-planting different types of vegetables. For example, plant some smaller plants like radishes, lettuce or spinach between larger ones like tomatoes and cabbage or broccoli. This way, the soil won’t be bare for too long.

Then at the end of the growing season, plant a cover crop to keep weeds from finding a home over the fall and winter.

Use Drip Irrigation

Why waste precious water encouraging unwelcome weeds to grow? By irrigating only the plants that you want with drip irrigation, rather than using a sprinkler to water a big area, you will avoid having weeds grow in pathways and other unplanted areas. Not only that, but you’ll be conserving water as well.

Eat Them

The last of the weed control techniques I want to share is one you may not have tried before. Weeds can be healthy!

Some of the early spring weeds are not only edible, but are also nutritious and delicious! Lamb’s quarters, plantain, dandelions, amaranth, purslane and nettles are all edible when young and tender. Because they have had to develop and grow in a very competitive environment, they often contain higher nutrient levels than cultivated food plants, especially the trace minerals.

weed control techniques

Plantain – nutritious when young and tender!

Become familiar with your weeds before you start using them in salads and stir-fries. And never forage for edible wild plants in areas that have been exposed to pesticides. Avoid any areas where pets and animals may have left their droppings.

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Spring Weed Management | Real Life Garden Solutions – WORLD ORGANIC NEWS says

[…] today’s lesson is Weed Control Techniques thanks to Comox blogger Through Nana’s Garden Gate. I’ll just make a few editorial […]

Spring Weed Management | Real Life Garden Solutions says

[…] today’s lesson is Weed Control Techniques thanks to Comox blogger Through Nana’s Garden Gate. I’ll just make a few editorial […]

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