Weeds are not really glorious, especially if you spend days and days on your hands and knees getting rid of them. They are however bearable, if you take some steps to make your gardening life just a bit easier.
Weeds, by definition, are just plants that are not growing in the places you want them to. Any bare soil or ground is fair game for weeds and they are voracious beings. They can quickly take over your backyard and somehow find a way to keep coming back. Like the Hollywood great undead, the zombie, it doesn’t matter how much you stab, burn, rip apart or stomp on them, they just keep coming BACK! Then you realise that these plants are highly evolved and have but one goal in life, to make more weeds…
There are many angles that you can attack these dreaded zombies of the plant world and here are some ideas to get you off your hands and knees and into a comfy rocking-chair in your garden with much deserved cuppa.
No chemicals ever
Just as some people find it tempting to grab a can of poison for controlling bugs in their garden, you might find it awfully hard to walk past the spray bottles of weed killer in your hardware store. But just like you won’t buy the bug killers, don’t get sucked in by these – just keep walking. There have been suspected links to spontaneous animal miscarriages on those feed with grass treated with a certain herbicide. This might just be pure conjecture at this point, but so was DDT at one stage.
Also, you may have noticed some of the warnings on the back of weed spray containers. Warnings that advise you to spray clear of edible plants, or plants you don’t want to kill or not to spray within 2 days of expected rain. That is because these nasties are chemicals that will be washed away either directly onto your other plants or soil which you grow your edible crops in (and could pose a danger to your health) and/ or wash away and drain down along with everything it has collected from us humans, eventually ending up in a large body of water (like a lake or an ocean) where it kills enourmous amounts of marine life.
Even a microscopic amount per household soon adds up to a lot of chemicals in the storm water. I would personally rather tackle some weeds the hard way if it saves some of our precious marine life! Wouldn’t you?
Cover it up
As I mentioned before, bare ground is an open invitation to weeds and they will readily accept it. Mulch, mulch and mulch some more. Use weed mat, which is the sort that looks like black material but is porous, allowing air and water though to the soil below. Black plastic not only looks nasty but it is not so nice to the living organisms below it either. It doesn’t allow any water or nutrients through to them.
If you can’t find weed mat, use old newspapers in a thick, overlapping layer or old flattened cardboard boxes. Top this up with a thick layer of straw or woodchips. If you use pea straw, be prepared for little pea plants coming up all over the place. I let them go last season and the kids got bucket loads of free peas. They are technically fodder peas (used for feeding cows mainly) but they are perfectly fine for human consumption. If you lift the plants up gently you can usually relocate them successful if they are not the right spot.
I don’t ever really have space that is not planted in my garden but I have heard of the trend of green mulching (green ground cover). This is where you plant a nutrient rich crop such as clover, oats or barley in winter or Lucerne or millet in summer, allowing them to grow and then digging them directly into the soil to trap these nutrients.
So ‘green mulches’ are essentially a crop of plants to keep the ground covered after you have removed your annuals that have finished producing - therefore no room allowed for weeds on bare ground. They can also be used as food for humans or animals and the bees love the flowers.
Hoe, Hoe, Hoe
Look around for a good quality long handled hoe or a standard one if you only have raised beds. I have a combo of both ground and raised beds and I was lucky enough to inherit an amazing long-handled one.
It is a Dutch hoe style and has a hard-wood handle. Carry it around with you on your daily garden checks to get on top of the weeds early. Make sure you get all of the roots of the weed out, not just the top leaves as it will sprout right back up at you. I keep the head clean and the handle oiled to avoid getting splinters from it. I get enough of those from the roses. Can someone please remind me to wear gloves when I prune the roses???
If you have any more weed-ridding tips, I would love to hear them. Drop me a line anytime as it’s good to share!
Until next time, happy gardening =)