You are all planted up. At least, Round One. A wholesome organic garden. Everything looks perfect, right? And then, one morning, with no warning, there are weeds. “Hey, they aren’t supposed to be there”…but there you have it. And so it goes. But, take heart, there is action to be taken!
Early organic weed management is the essence of “an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure”. We think this means doing weed duty, a few minutes, every other day, until your plants take off. My favorite tool for this is the scuffle hoe.
Just a quick back and forth with this wonderment and voilà! Those little racals are compost pile bound. And this works for many garden situations where weeds are first emerging. But what else can be done to keep our garden weed free and free from chemical pesticides as well? Here are some other organic garden management techniques:
1. Mulch – once the garden is in, and the soil has been amended and fertilized, cover the ground with 2-3 inches of wood mulch. Or newspaper and straw. Or leaves. Even well seasoned compost. This keep the sunlight off the weeds and will greatly reduce the presence of weeds.
2. Weed barrier – This stuff is great, in that, it works. Keeps the weeds down and lets the water through. And it can last for several seasons if not punctured. It really helps if you dont walk on it. Especially in baseball cleats. Some people prefer plastic weed barrier, others like thick cardboard-like rolls. One is more sustainable, perhaps, than the other. I don’t really have a dog in this fight. Both are better than toxic sprays, and not as good as mechanical or hand weeding.
3. Horticultural Vinegar – I am a really big fan. It works, if you use it for several weeks in succession. Vinegar must be used more than once. The weed roots are still alive after the first spraying. And probably the second. But, if the spraying occurs once a week for 3-4 weeks, the root will finally die off. It is recommended that this is used as a weed killer in areas away from the plants and soils you are trying to grow in. It will change the soil PH, at least temporarily. and this could hamper your garden plantings. Better for walking paths, or boundary areas.
4. Weed Torch – This is clearly the most fun anybody can have weeding. It is very satisfying to see the instant results of the withering plants. It gets pretty addictive I am just saying. But, the use of propane seems to speak against the quest of sustainability for some. So, let your conscience be your guide and if it says yes you can, “Flame on”!
5. Boiling water – An old school organic method. Add vinegar and soap if you want to take it a little further. Pour directly on plant leaves. Repeat until dead. You, or the plant.
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