How to minimize weed problems in your garden
Your hands are your best weeding tools. While kneeling, you can grab many weeds right at the base of the stem and pull them out. Be careful when pulling, to get the roots also. More difficult or rampant weeds will require some special weeding tools. The two best weeding tools are the hoe and the mattock. A hoe is required for the rough and tumble weeds or a mass of young seedlings. A metal file can be used to sharpen the edge of the blade as you hoe. The hand mattock is a great tool for weeding while kneeling in the garden.
Mulching is great for keeping your garden free of weeds and is effective and simple.
Add a layer of mulch to your garden at the beginning of the growing season each year.
This protective layer of mulch insulates the soil from the hot summer sun, protects it from drying winds and eliminates weeds.
After the mulch is applied, you don't have to hoe between the rows. Mulching can reduce the water required to one third of the amount throughout the growing season. The soil stays evenly moist under the mulch. And as the organic mulches decay, they improve the soil. For mulching to be effective it should be approximately 3 inches thick. Organic mulches include straw, peat moss, sawdust, dry manure, leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, wood chips, and bark chips. Inorganic mulches include aluminum foil, newspaper, and polyethylene film. Mulching will help to keep plants healthy, and will keep your garden looking beautiful.
Weeding around seedlings
Keep the area weeded, because weeds will compete with your plant seedlings for food and water and will cut down on good air circulation, potentially inviting disease. Be careful not to disturb the seedlings' roots when weeding. Water well after weeding to reestablish any plant roots that may have been disturbed.
Annual weeds germinate, flower, and die back in one season. However, their seeds are extremely plentiful and are spread by gardeners, mulches, manure, compost, birds, animals, wind, and rain.
Common annual vegetable garden weeds are chickweed, cheeseweed, wild oats, wild barley, mustards, shepherds purse, sowthistle, annual bluegrass, clover, groundsel, nettle, crabgrass, night shade, horseweed, purslane, fleabane, lamb's quarters, prickly lettuce, milk-thistle, sweet clovers, bristly oxtongue, and barnyardgrass. A single barnyardgrass weed can produce over 1 million seeds in its short life.
Perennial weeds live through winter, although they may die back. They reproduce from underground bulbs, rhizomes, or crowns on taproots. Perennial weeds interfering with crop growth include nutsedge, witchgrass, bermudagrass, dallisgrass, milkweed, field bindweed, Johnsongrass, and ozalis. If some of these names seem familiar, it's because what's considered a weed in vegetable gardens may be considered grass in front yards.
Unfortunately, grass seeds germinate as well in a garden as they do in a lawn. Sometimes even better, if you keep the garden soil in top condition. All that open space provides much less competition for weed growth than that offered by a crowded front yard lawn.
Seasonal plants and flowers
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Tips and ideas for your garden
Here are some quick links within our site to help you with your gardening.