Weeds are a problem every gardener has to face. Weeds are to gardeners as injuries are to sports people. Well, not quite but weeds are like an occupational hazard! And like most problems there are solutions, some of them not quite pleasant as the other. Taking that into account I would like to divulge the organic view of taking care of weeds.
The bigger the weeds get the harder they are to control. They use up the nutrients and water that your plants need! So get into the habit of a once-a-week intruder patrol to cut down your weed problems. Using the right (organic of course) tools and techniques you will definitely cut down weed growth making it a manageable- maybe even enjoyable- task!
The organic way requires diligent work and aren’t we all quite the buzzing bees in our gardens. The organic way will be very effective if carried out right. Here are ways to organically prevent or remove weeds from your garden. You should use a combination of the below techniques for best results.
Mulch as you know is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil. Yes, mulching inhibits growth of weeds by not allowing them enough light. And no light means no chlorophyll which in turn means no weeds! The weeds that do manage to get through the thick layer of mulch will be easily removable as their roots will be shallow.
Of course you’re going to be using organic mulches -straw, grass clippings, leaves, shredded bark, sawdust, kitchen scraps- which will decompose in time to nourish the soil. This will serve as a fairly effective weed barrier. Use plenty of newspapers or kraft sheets (paper used to make grocery bags) or cardboards under the mulches, for even better weed protection.
A 6-inch layer of shredded newspaper used at the start of one season allowed no more than 8 weeds per square yard to sprout for 2 seasons without renewing the mulch layer, in a study conducted at the University of Vermont back in 1992-1993. Weeds haven’t learnt much since then so I’m sure these results are still valid!
Hoeing will work effectively when the weeds are still small and haven’t bloomed yet. Annual weeds die when their stems are severed from their roots just below the soil surface. With a sharp hoe you can easily cut those weeds down.
For best results go for a swan neck or oscillating hoe instead of the traditional square-headed garden hoe and to avoid backaches hold it as you would a broom- with your thumbs pointed upward.
Corn Gluten Meal
Corn gluten is 100% natural. It is a byproduct of the wet-milling process and was accidentally discovered to be an effective weed controller. The awesome thing is that apart from suppressing growth of weeds, it will feed your garden as it is a source of nitrogen. Also it is not at all harmful to humans, animals or birds.
Sounds too good to be true? Here’s the catch. It will prevent weed seeds from germinating roots, but once the weeds have gone beyond the sprout stage corn gluten will not affect them. Also, they cannot distinguish between weeds and crop seeds. So don’t use them where you have just planted other seeds. They are best used in established lawns or perennial garden beds.
The sun can do wonders for you in the garden. Apart from the obvious it can help you get rid of persistent weeds if you leave your bed fallow for six weeks in the summer. Maybe you can try this on a small part of your garden. You don’t want to be out of action for so long.
Start pulling, hoeing or raking out as many weeds from your garden bed sometime in late spring or early summer. Then wet the soil and cover it with plastic using weights or by burying the edges. Leave the plastic as it is for those six weeks. When you remove the plastic you will see the fruit of the sun. Rather you won’t see much as the sun will have cooked all the weeds that would have sprouted.
Follow these methods persistently and there’s a good chance that in a few seasons you will have repelled these invaders for good!