It’s late February/early March and down here in Alabama that means it is time to plant. Yay! Three cheers for Spring!
So, this past weekend, hubs and I loosened up the garden soil and got busy. Not like that! In the garden. Lets just go with we started planting the veggies. Potatoes, onions and bush beans. Tomatoes, squash, eggplant and peppers will go in in another week or two.
Anyone else love the sight of a freshly planted garden? Straight rows, new plants and no weeds.
We are very fortunate in our growing zone to have abundant rainfall and warm sunny days. Plants tend to thrive and grow very well. All plants. Especially weeds. I’m pretty sure that I am the BEST weed grower in the state of Alabama.
Boy this post keeps wandering into the ditch. Weed as in garden pest variety, not smoking or medicinal variety.
But this year I am making it my mission to change all that. There will be NO weeds in my garden!
No weeds may be a stretch, lets go with there will be ALMOST NO weeds in my garden! So how are we going weed free?
Keep reading for 20 ways to destroy weeds in your garden.
1 – Chemical spray on weed killers
Roundup, Weed B Gone, or any other variety of chemical spray. Easy to find and they work well. The downside is that they can be expensive and they aren’t particularly good for you. Definitely not organic.
2 – Natural spray on weed killers
Similar in application to it’s chemical cousin, a natural spray on can be made for much cheaper and is significantly healthier for you. The downside is that it may not be as effective. Also remember that even though it is natural, it still can’t tell the difference in a weed and a prized tomato. It will kill both. If you need an quick and easy recipe check out this one made of vinegar, salt, dish soap from HGTV.
3 – Mulch
If you want something low maintenance and attractive you can’t go wrong with mulch. It does require some upfront cost and labor but once in place it lasts all season and does double duty keeping weeds out and moisture in. And you can leave it in place and allow it to decompose to enrich the soil. Bonus points!
4 – Newspaper or Cardboard
This works similarly to mulch by smothering weeds and helping to retain moisture. It can also be allowed to decompose to boost the soil. And it is usually FREE. Downsides are that it isn’t all that attractive and unless you stake it or top it with something like mulch it will blow away.
5 – Plastic Sheeting
Extremely effective but a real pain when you need to pull it up at the end of the growing season. We have used this one with good results, but given the end of season clean up and the waste we won’t be using this year.
6 – Weed Control Cloth
Also called landscape fabric, this is similar to the plastic sheeting but is a heavier grade of material, designed for years of use in the garden. I have read wonderful things about it’s effectiveness on the Floret Flower blog but this will be my first year trying it. I am using this where I am planting my flowers. If you haven’t seen Floret’s site yet, go check it out. After you finish reading of course. But you are going to love her site.
7 – The Tarp Method
I first read about this method in the Market Gardener. This is one of those books you need to own. Want to know 50 more books that every farmer needs to own? Check out this post. With this method, several weeks before you are ready to work the soil you lay down dark colored tarps over the garden beds. It smothers the weeds, warms the soil and encourages all those little critters in the dirt to do their thing. Improved soil, no weeds and faster plant growth. Win-win-win.
8 – Square Foot Gardening or Similar Methods
There is an entire tribe of people dedicated to the Square Foot Gardening Method and there are books and instructors and special soil blends. Way more than I could include in this post. But the basics of the system are that you plant in a grid with tight plant spacing to create a microclimate for the plants. What does that have to do with weeds? Essentially, you are shading out the weeds. The good plants take up all the nutrients and grow to touch one another leaving nothing for the weeds.
I have tried this method in a half-hearted way and had no luck with it. If you are considering trying it for yourself I suggest reading up on it and following the SFG recommendations. If you half way do it, like me, you will have zero luck.
9 – Fire
I do love fire but I’m going to be honest, this one scares me a little. You use a propane torch and torch those weeds where they sit. Fast, easy and effective. Love it. But you have to use a propane torch and not catch anything else on fire. Not saying I won’t be trying this one, but I may have to wait until hubs isn’t around to know.
10 – Solarizing the Garden
This is very similar to the tarp method. But with the tarp method you are relying on a lack of sunlight and oxygen to smother the weeds. With solarizing you use clear plastic and create a greenhouse effect. The trick is to raise the soil temperature and cook the weed seeds. This works best in the hot summer months, a time when most folks have a garden in full swing. But it may be perfect if you have an area you aren’t using this summer. Want more information on solarizing? Check out this post from Life is Just Ducky.
11 – Build Good Soil
This one was an eye opener for me thanks to the Market Gardener. It seems so simple but I think most of us forget that a healthy garden starts with healthy soil. Soil with good levels of compost and organic matter are less weedy.
12 – Hoe
I feel like this post is bound and determined to embarrass me. Surely this one is self-explanatory.
13 – Water
Are you confused? Water will just make weeds grow, right? But not if it is boiling. Boiling water kills weeds (and other plants, so don’t spill). I will not be trying this one. Similar to fire this seems like a good way to put myself in the hospital.
14 – Don’t till the Soil
Wait, what? – Another tidbit from the Market Gardener (seriously ya’ll, get this book). I have no experience with this one, mostly because hubs is convinced that gardens must be tilled. But I am working on it. It is slow going.
15 – Use controlled watering
Leave weeds high and dry by only watering right at the plant base. I’m guessing this works better in areas that have less rainfall than south Alabama. But if you are in an fairly dry area, this makes a lot of sense.
16 – Use essential oils
According to Natural Living Ideas, essential oils like clove, cinnamon and a few others work well to kill weeds. I do love my essential oils but this one seems like it would be expensive. Still if you have some essential oils lying around and want to give it a try let me know how it works.
17 – Chickens
Chickens are great at eating weeds. And everything else. If you are planning to use chickens in the garden confine them to runs or otherwise protect your veggies or you may find you don’t have weeds or vegetables.
18 – Corn meal gluten or corn gluten meal
This byproduct of corn works as a natural herbicide. But it only stops seeds from sprouting and will not kill existing weeds. Best to use this one as a pre-emergent. Helpful hint – It can also be used to kill ants.
19 – Baking soda
According to Home Guides, baking soda works to kill weeds. But based on their article the weeds must be dampened with water and the baking soda dumped individually onto the weeds. I’m not sure how well this would work near desirable plants that you want to keep but it may be a good option for garden edges or pathways.
20 – Pull those suckers out
Anyone else groaning at the thought? Seriously though, for getting weeds, roots and all you can’t beat pulling them by hand. To make it easier pull when weeds are young and soil is moist. And pull regularly, pulling weeds for 15 minutes is so much better than pulling for 2 hours.
In my own garden I am using a combination of things from this list, all in my efforts to be Weed Free. Have you tried any of these methods in your own garden? What about the ones I missed? There are some strange methods for getting rid of weeds out there.
Want even more unusual suggestions for killing weeds in your garden? Check out this article in Readers Digest that includes things like carpet scraps, bleach and borax.
Need ideas on what to plant in your garden? For a Summer Garden visit 5 Easy Summer Vegetables You Need to Plant and For a Fall Garden visit What Can You Plant in a Fall Vegetable Garden.
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