Organic weed prevention

Weeds are an aggravating fact of life when gardening. Here is how to prevent and control weeds the organic way.

Weeds are an aggravating fact of life when gardening. Although you can purchase herbicides to control weeds, many of them are not really safe for people or animals. Here is how to prevent and control weeds the organic way.

The most basic way to remove weeds organically is to pull them or dig them up. For small weeds, just pull them up by hand. For larger weeds, and weeds such as dandelions that have deep roots, dig up the weed. Use a hoe, trowel, or a wire weeder. Be sure to remove all the roots. Try to remove the weeds before they have gone to seed, or you will have more even more weeds to dig up the next growing season.

If you are digging up a toxic plant such as poison ivy, be sure to wear heavy gloves so that the plant does not cause you to have an allergic reaction. Never dispose of toxic weeds by burning, as the smoke is also toxic.

If the weed has not yet gone to seed and is not toxic, you may throw it on the compost heap. However, if the plant has seeded, do not put it in your compost heap unless you are sure that your compost heap will get hot enough to kill the weed seeds. Keeping your compost pile hot enough to kill seeds is a good idea in any case, as an ordinarily desirable plants might become a weed if it sprouts in the wrong place in your garden. Be sure to compost manure at a high temperature also, as manure is notoriously high in weed seeds.

If there are too many weeds to remove manually, you can use some common household substances to help control weeds. Pouring vinegar on weeds will help kill them. You may also kill weeds by pouring boiling water on them. Be sure not to pour the vinegar or boiling water on plants that you wish not to kill. You may need to pour the water or vinegar on the weeds more than once if they are especially large or tough.

Weeds seem to thrive on poor soil and soil that is high in only one or two types of nutrients. Build the soil up by the addition of minerals and well-rotted manure or compost. Maintaining good fertility in your soil will help to prevent the growth of many common weeds. Some weeds, such as moss, grow well where the soil does not drain well. Improving the drainage of the soil by using French drains will help prevent the growth of these weeds.

After you have removed the weeds, mulch your plants well to prevent weeds from growing up again. A 2 or 3-inch layer of compost will both fertilize your plants and help prevent weeds. Alternately, mulch between your plants with a thick layer of hay or straw. You may also put newspapers in the rows between your plants and cover them with hay or compost. The newspaper will smother the young weeds. Do not use newspaper with colored inks. Try to use newspaper with soy ink if you can obtain it.

You may also use landscape fabric to control weeds. After you have weeded the area to be planted, put the landscape fabric over the garden plot. Tack it down with stakes. There are special pins manufactured just to use with this fabric. Cut holes in the fabric so that you can plant the plants in the holes. Cover with a layer of mulch if desired for a more attractive look.

Solarization is a good way to remove weeds from a large contiguous area in hot weather. To polarize the soil, mow or cut down tall weeds. Cover the area with a layer of black plastic. Leave the plastic over the soil for several weeks. This will kill any weeds and heat the soil enough to kill any weed seeds. After removing the plastic, cultivate the soil lightly, enrich with compost or manure, and plant.

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