I have taken to weeding as a mental health strategy; it is a perfect activity for me to mull over my thoughts and sort things out. I try and make it a regular activity so both me and the garden benefit and often leave feeling our session has been the most productive part of my day.
That being said, not everyone has the liberty to spend hours of weeding a week and the weeds can often get out of hand before we know it. Having too many weeds can compromise accessible nutrients for your plants, host harmful insects or disease and restrict the air flow throughout your garden.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind when trying to keep the weeds under control.
- Stop weeds early: This is sometimes easier said than done, but yank and dig them out as soon as you can. Try and remove as much of the plant as possible, as some will grow back from remaining roots. Once out of the soil, make sure to let the roots bake in the sun to kill them, then toss them in the compost pile.
- Keep soil covered: Mulch, mulch, mulch! If your soil is covered, weeds will have a hard time growing there. Mulch options are endless. You can cover your soil with straw, compost, grass clippings, leaves, pine needles or boughs, sawdust and so on. Mulching is also a really great gardening practice to help with water conservation as well as a great way to improve soil structure. Another way to keep soil covered is planting green manures, or cover crops. These crops not only cover the areas in which weeds like to grow, but many fix nitrogen and enhance the structure and integrity of the soil. Some green manures include clover, alfalfa, buckwheat and rye.
- Do not let weeds go to seed: This is important! Seeds mean more weeds. Remove flowers and seeds from plant if you cannot remove the whole thing. Keep as many seeds as possible out of your compost pile.
- Build up your soil: Many weeds flourish in marginal soil. Building up the soil organically to be well balanced and fertile will create resilience within the soil that can fend off weeds.
- Kill weeds before you plant a crop: You may as well start off without any. Keeping your seedlings, transplants or directly sown plants away from weeds in the early days will give them a better chance competing against them later on in the game.
Some of the Common Culprits
It would be great to expand this post with your help! Have we missed anything? Leave a comment with your weed stories and tips!
Written by: Mhari Lamarque