Garden Basics – Weeds
Eliminating weeds from your garden takes hard work and a couple of different strategies.
1. Pull them by hand: Add them to your compost pile if they don’t have seeds.
2. Mulch fodder: The stems and leaves of weeds are actually good content for mulch when they dry out as long as you eliminate the seeds.
3. Change the climate conditions: Certain weeds will fail to grow when deprived of their specific nutrition and weather conditions.
4. Increase the competition: Stock your garden with your chosen plants that are stronger and grow faster than weeds.
5. Cook them: Using a clear plastic covering kill the seeds so they can’t reproduce.
6. Chemicals: Only as a last resort use herbicides and weed killers.
Often times weeds are really symptoms of a bigger underlying problem with your garden or the soil underneath. Sometimes weeds will flourish in poorly drained soil. Other types of weeds do well in soil that is either too acidic or too alkaline.
One of the most effective ways to destroy weeds in a new garden is to solarize them down. It is actually quite simple. Using just a sheet of clear plastic, capture the sun’s heat and literally cook the weeds and their seeds until they are dead. This will take a couple of weeks in sunny climates. If your garden is in a cooler or cloudy region, try this technique during the more sunny times of the year and allow a good 8 weeks for the process to work. Here’s the steps to successfully execute this strategy.
1. Mow the ground as close as possible to remove as much of the plants as possible. The best terrain for this technique is bare ground.
2. Make the soil damp. The process will be accelerated by moisture.
3. Take a sheet of thick, clear plastic over the entire area as tightly as possible and then fasten it down with heavy stones.
4. In order to keep in as much heat as possible, seal off the edges by covering all the way around with soil or pieces of wood.
Try not to till the soil after you have solarized since it often brings new seeds to the surface. When the soil gets really hot, this process will also destroy many forms of soil dwelling pests and diseases.
If everything else fails to work, you can still use herbicides to kill the weeds in your garden. Herbicides work differently depending on the type of weed or the stage of life the weed is in.
1. Pre-emergent: These herbicides work by killing the tiny seedlings as they are sprouting and are very effective on lawns or other places where mature weeds are particularly difficult to remove. Timing is important here. If you apply these herbicides too soon they may wash away before they have a chance to work. But applied too late and the seedlings will be too big to have any effect on them.
2. Herbicidal Soap: In order to prevent moisture loss, plants have a waxy coating on their leaves. Herbicidal soap damages this waxy layer, allowing the plant to dry out and die. This particular type of herbicide works the best on young, active weeds in dry, hot climates.