There are several ways to get rid of weeds in the garden without using chemicals. The no-dig method, planting edible ground covers, using newspaper or other organic materials for mulch, boiling water, vinegar, targeted fire, and hand-pulling are all effective methods. Use one or a combination of these to keep your garden weed-free.
Why Natural and Organic Weed Control?
The traditional way of growing food involves using chemicals like herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. These toxins can enter our bodies through the food we eat, and at the same time they destroy the soil the food is grown in.
Gardeners can use natural and organic weed control methods to grow food free from chemicals in the soil. These home remedies for weed control are inexpensive or free.
Which brings us to what are weeds, really?
What Are Weeds Anyway?
A weed is any plant that is growing in the wrong place. They are often characterized by their ability to reproduce quickly.
If you want to get rid of a weed, you need to remove the entire plant. This is true whether the weed has a long tap root or produces runners that grow in all directions. If you only remove part of the plant, it will just keep growing back.
Some types of weeds are purposely grown because they are known to be beneficial. For example, dandelion, purslane, nettle, and chickweed can all be eaten.
While most people think of weeds as pesky plants that take up space in their gardens, they actually serve an important purpose. Weeds help to prevent soil erosion by covering bare patches of ground and protecting the soil from drying out. In addition, the roots of weed plants help to loosen compacted soil and provide a source of organic matter for beneficial insects such as worms.
Weeds can be a big problem when you’re trying to grow vegetables. They can compete with the vegetables for things like nutrients and sunlight, and they can also smother young plants. If you don’t deal with them, they can take over your whole garden.
Organic Weed Control Plan
What is the best way to prevent weeds in a vegetable garden without using herbicides? There are many organic methods for controlling weeds, and by using a combination of these methods, it is possible to naturally control weeds in the garden.
We need to take a closer look at them so you can come up with a weed control plan that will work for you.
No-Dig Method of Weed Control
Light and water are required for weed seeds to germinate. Seeds that are just below the surface of the soil have access to these two things, which is why they are more likely to grow than seeds that are deeper in the soil.
The method of weed control that involves no digging or tilling is known as the no-dig method. This method minimizes disturbance to the soil by not bringing new seeds to the surface where they have the potential to germinate.
You will need to dig a little to plant new seeds or seedlings, but this will not be a large disturbance to the soil. By keeping potential weeds buried, they will not be a nuisance in the vegetable garden.
If you have a weed problem in your garden, you may want to consider planting edible ground covers to help control the weeds. Edible ground covers can help to keep weeds from getting out of control by shading the ground and preventing weed seeds from getting enough sunlight to germinate. They can also help to smother weeds that are already growing. If you have a weed problem in your garden, you may want to consider planting edible ground covers to help control the weeds. Edible ground covers can help to keep weeds from getting out of control by shading the ground and preventing weed seeds from getting enough sunlight to germinate. They can also help to smother weeds that are already growing.
An edible ground cover is a plant that covers bare soil and prevents weeds from growing, while also providing flowers to attract beneficial insects. These plants are edible and can help pollinate the vegetable garden.
Interplant edible ground covers such as nasturtium, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and alpine strawberries between edible plants and in bare patches of the vegetable garden. These plants will all spread and suppress weeds from growing in the vegetable garden.
Mulch To Suppress Weeds
Mulching is always beneficial for a vegetable garden as it enriches the soil, helps retain moisture, and suppresses weeds. There are many ways to mulch naturally, including using leaves, straw, or wood chips. You can also use a combination of these materials.
You can prevent weeds by laying thick sheets of newspaper on the ground. The newspaper will also help mulch the soil and will decompose over time, adding nutrients back into the soil.
To prevent weeds in your vegetable garden, start by removing any existing weeds. Next, lay down a thick layer of newspaper on the soil. Top it off with compost to keep the newspaper in place and help it break down over time. To plant vegetables, make small holes in the newspaper where you want to plant them, being careful not to disturb too much of the newspaper.
For already-growing plants, you can sprinkle shredded paper around them, and then wet it so it stays in place. Once it’s wet, the paper will hold together and won’t get blown away. This works well for controlling weeds around well-established plants, but isn’t good for small seeds or seedlings.
Use unglazed, untreated paper instead as it is much better for the soil and it will break down easily.
Instead of throwing away old bills, envelopes, work and school notes, and other correspondence, consider recycling them.
A paper shredder makes this job simple.
If you put a layer of compost on top of the shredded paper, it will help the paper to break down by the end of the season. If you don’t put compost on top, the paper can dry too hard and form a layer that won’t allow enough water through to the soil beneath.
Newspapers and cardboard can both be used as weed barriers in a vegetable garden. To use cardboard, lay sheets of it directly on the soil after removing visible weeds. Then top the cardboard with compost and make small holes in it to plant out vegetable seedlings.
If you make the compost 4-6 inches deep, you can plant your small seedlings directly in it on top of the cardboard. The cardboard will have decomposed enough by the time the seedlings need more room to let them grow through to the soil beneath. To do this, use 1-2 layers of cardboard.
8 Tips to Help Control Weeds
There is not a natural weed control method that will work for every weed and prevent them from coming back. Weeding is a never-ending battle and usually requires a few different methods to stop weeds from taking over the vegetable garden.
It is impossible to have a completely weed-free garden, but here are some steps that you can take to stop weeds from crowding your plants:
Start with a Weed-Free Garden
Spring is the perfect time of year to tidy up the garden. The plants are just starting to grow again after their winter break, the weather is cooler so you won’t get as sweaty working, and there are no bugs around looking to bite you.
I prepare the garden in early spring by pushing last year’s mulch aside and removing all the weeds and grass from each garden bed.
After that, I work in a layer of finished compost into the soil surface. I leave the bed un-mulched so the soil can warm, and weed seeds on the surface sprout and begin growing. I remove these weeds just before planting, sow my seeds and plants, and then add mulch.
If you have fresh, weed-free soil for your new garden, you likely won’t have many weeds the first year. Keeping the weeds controlled throughout the growing season is your goal.
Add a Generous Layer of Mulch
Organic mulch is the best way to protect your garden from weeds. It has many benefits, such as conserving moisture and keeping the soil cool. It also suppresses weeds.
A thick layer of mulch prevents the weed seeds from germinating by blocking the sunlight.
Ensure that your garden is free of weeds, then apply a 4-inch layer of organic mulch to the top of the soil. Good organic mulches include straw, wood chips, compost, shredded newspaper, pine needles, or leaf mold. You want something that will allow water to penetrate while blocking sunlight from reaching the soil.
The mulch will gradually decompose, making the soil healthier. Healthy soil produces healthy plants, which are better able to compete against weeds for nutrients and water, causing them to die from starvation and dehydration.
Mulching the soil surface helps reduce the number of weed seeds that sprout, but you will still need to put some effort into manually removing the ones that do sprout.
Avoid Disturbing the Soil
If you have weeds in your garden, they are likely only the ones that are close to the surface. Every time you dig, you bring more seeds to the surface.
When you need to sow seeds and transplant seedlings into the garden, just dig a little bit, mix in some compost, and plant your seeds and transplants. Once the plants become established, add more mulch, making sure to keep it a few inches away from the stems so the plants can breathe.
If you rototill your garden each year like many old-timers do, you not only destroy the soil structure, but you also bring plenty of weed seeds to the surface to germinate. Instead of doing this, you could establish permanent garden beds and apply the no-dig approach to gardening to build your soil. This would stop you from having to dig up fresh weed seeds each year.
Remove Weeds When Small
If you pull weeds when they’re small and their root system is shallow, it’s much easier than waiting until they’re bigger.
If you see a weed in the vegetable garden, take some time to pull it up by the roots. A garden trowel, or claw, will help you get under the weed and extract it from the soil by the roots. Throw weeds away from the garden, and don’t add them to your compost bin.
Weeds can easily grow back if you throw them on the compost pile or leave them in the garden. Their seeds can stay dormant for years and then grow when the conditions are right. Instead, throw them deep in the woods far away from your garden.
Develop a Weeding Schedule
Weeding frequently, at least once a week, will help you stay ahead of the weeds. Dividing the garden beds into groups and weeding a couple of beds each session is much less overwhelming than taking on the task of weeding the entire garden at once.
The best time to weed is when the ground is dry after rain. Weeds are easier to pull out when the ground is marginally moist. Try to pull the weed roots out as well, as many weeds will regrow from left roots in the ground.
Remove any weeds that have sprouted through the mulch. Be careful when removing weeds that are close to your vegetable garden plants so you don’t damage the roots. Use a trowel to remove weeds with long taproots.
Remove Seed Heads
Weeds are plants that have adapted to grow well in a wide range of environments. They often outcompete other plants for resources like sunlight and water.
If you don’t cut the tops off weeds when they are young, they will spread thousands of seeds. Use a string trimmer to chop down weeds in your paths before they go to seed to prevent them from spreading in your garden.
Don’t Leave Bare Spots
Weeds can quickly take over if you’re not careful. Be sure to use mulch or to plant crops in all areas of your garden. If you have some beds that aren’t being used, plant cover crops in them. Be sure to chop them down before they go to seed, though. You can also use cardboard and wood chips on the paths between your beds to help keep the weeds at bay.
Water the Plants, Not the Weeds
If you water your garden indiscriminately, you are inadvertently giving weeds a perfect environment to sprout up and grow. Conversely, by letting open areas, such as paths and corners, stay dry, you can create an inhospitable environment for weeds.
Water your plants at the base instead of watering the whole plant. This will minimize evaporation. Water your plants in the morning when it is cool out.