Enjoy Weed-LESS GardeningJan 09, 2023
Weeds can be such a pesky problem in the garden. As the weather begins to heat up, you might begin seeing more and more of them. Weeds are huge competitors for nutrients and will prevent your veggies and beneficial microbes living under the soil from getting them, when you work so hard to provide only the best to your soil and plants. They also grow much faster than any vegetable, so they will quickly crowd out your veggies, and you will be growing weeds before you know it.
But it doesn't have to be this way! In fact, when you garden like a wild child, you can enjoy weedLESS gardening. You will literally weed less. It is one of the many reasons the backyard garden symphony is so great!!
The reason wild child gardeners weed less is because weeds are a good indicator of how things are doing down below. They are a thermometer for your soil. What is coming from the soil tells us what is going on inside of the soil. This is important to remember in gardening as a whole, but weeds are a great way to gauge how things are looking down under. If you are seeing weeds, it doesn't necessarily mean disaster, but there are several simple things to begin putting into practice in your garden to keep weeds at bay and improve the quality of the soil and your plants.
What is coming from the soil tells us what is going on in the soil.
Planting herbs in the garden like mint that like to take over the space they're in is a great way to get a handle on weeds. Herbs are beneficial to the vegetable garden, but one way that you may not have thought about is how they will help suppress the weeds by giving them nowhere to grow.
See the picture above? There are no weeds in this bed because of the companions that are growing wild underneath the tomatoes. The tomatoes shade the roots of the companions and the companions cover the surface of the soil, making it impossible for weeds to thrive!
One reason we work so hard on our soil is so that it can support more plants than a traditional garden can. The more plants that can be supported the more you can grow, and the more you can grow, the less space the weeds have to come in. They can't take over if there is no place for them.
We talk so much about building the soil. Tilling destroys all of our work by disrupting the soil structure. Remember, there is a whole world underground that is living and thriving. We want to leave it as undisturbed as possible. Also, when turning over the soil, the weed seeds from the previous years could get moved to the surface where the sunlight will bring them to life. Not good!
Each and every day, look around the garden and get rid of any new weeds you may see coming up. If you pull them when they are small, they do not have time to "go to seed" which in turn will make lots more weed babies for you to deal with. It also means that the plant will never produce seeds, which can live in your soil for the entire season and pop back up next year. Daily weeding is very important as the weather heats up. Don't let this important part of your garden routine get by you.
Homemade Organic Herbicide
Sometimes you need a little extra help, especially in garden pathways and borders. When you don't want to use any kind of chemicals in your garden, this homemade herbicide works wonders. This solution dries out the weeds, so it is only recommended to be used on sunny days, not on plants that are in the shade, and only when it isn't going to rain. Use this solution as often as needed to get rid of stubborn weeds OUTSIDE OF THE GARDEN BEDS.
- 1 gallon white vinegar (5%)
- 1 cup table salt
- 1 tbsp. dish soap
Mix ingredients into a spray bottle and spray directly onto weeds. Be careful not to get in on any plants you want to keep! Only use in garden pathways and borders. DO NOT USE IN THE GARDEN BEDS!
If you have stubborn weeds, one way to eliminate them once and for all is solarizing. We have the worst weed ever called Turbo Grass. It is grown in pastures for feed and is indestructible. Some made its way from the pasture next door to our garden and we have had a time with it ever since. Solarizing is the only method we can find that will get rid of it once it starts.
To solarize, you need a large tarp and warm weather. The best time to solarize is right after you pick all of your summer veggies, when you are letting the beds rest before planting for fall. June or July is perfect. All you do is lay the tarp (or garbage bags if the area is small) on top of the beds and seal with bricks or something heavy. This creates an oven that literally cooks the weeds inside and eliminates them for good. Remove the plastic 4-6 weeks later when the weeds are brown and dead. Sometimes this method is the only thing that will work to eliminate weeds in an area. And it works. The picture below is of some rows that we had to solarize this spring. The weeds were so bad that we couldn't even plant in them. Consequences of not staying on top of the weeding can be pretty harsh. It is always better to tackle the weeds when they are manageable instead of letting them get out of control. Ask me how I know.....
Keeping weeds at bay will become one of the most important garden jobs as the season goes on. Getting a handle on them early is the best way to tackle them.
And remember, what we see coming out of the soil is a great indicator of what is going on inside the soil. In the wild child raised bed garden, we see very few weeds. I may spend 10 minutes a season picking weeds. If you are fighting troublesome weeds, you may have a bigger problem with soil health!
Before you plant, make sure your soil is in tip top shape. This is the most important thing you can do for your garden. If your soil ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. And that is the truth!! Get your soil right before you plant. I teach you exactly how inside the Kitchen Garden Academy. Learn more HERE.