In the Weeds

Every gardener wages a war against weeds. Here are some strategies!

By FamilyTime

 When you survey your garden as the summer progresses, it should look lush and healthy; a pleasure for all the senses! But wait. What is that clump of straggly looking plants over there? Or the carpet of low green growth where there should be rich, brown earth?


What is a Weed?
Your weed may be your neighbor’s idea of a wild flower, but in short, a weed is a plant that is unplanned for the garden, that grows vigorously and can choke other plants.

Many weeds have long roots and foliage that are not always detrimental to the garden. They harbor beneficial insects and when their deep roots are pulled from deep in the soil, they bring with them elements from the subsoil that are useful for garden plants.

But despite their uses, their disadvantages outweigh them. Sure, weeds are unsightly but more importantly, they absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. When they are removed, the other plants thrive.

Weed Control
It’s tempting to buy weed sprays and douse the pesky interlopers with it, but it’s far better to remove weeds manually, and without chemicals. This is not to say that weed killers are not effective in some instances, but should be used carefully and sparingly, and only with the advice of an expert at the garden center or after reading appropriate websites and other literature.

Most gardeners agree that cultivation is the best way to get rid of weeds. This means breaking up the soil and pulling the weeds from it, roots included. If you don’t get the roots, the weed will just grow back.

It’s most effective to turn the soil and remove any weeds you can early in the planting season when the soil is moist. But as the garden grows, this is not possible.  

A cultivating tool, such as a garden fork or spade, is helpful for pulling up weeds. As you perform other garden tasks, dig up weeds as you go.  

The other way to control weeds is with mulch. Thick layers of organic mulch keep the sun, water, and air from the weeds so that they can’t grow. Vegetable gardeners often choose plastic mulch to control weeds.

Plant clumping also minimizes weeds. This means planting flowers and greenery close together so that they form a canopy that deprives weeds of light, moisture, and air.

Most gardeners rely on a combination of all of the above. And there’s hardly a gardener alive who does not end up living with a few weeds in the garden!