Start with a Clean
recommendation is to try to start with a clean slate. If frustration
led to you leaving the garden a tangle of weeds for the winter, try
to get out there on warm days to clean it out as much as possible.
When the weather starts to warm in late winter and very early
spring, weed seeds will start to germinate. Try to pull them as soon
as you notice them.
Nothing like a ripe tomato fresh from your own
recommendation is the change the way the garden is laid out. Rather
than tilling up the whole plot in the spring, create a series of
beds and walkways. Till up only the beds where you intend to plant
and leave the walkways alone. If you do not disturb the soil in the
walkways, you will not bring weed seeds up to the soil surface where
they will germinate. You should
mulch the walkways with wood chips,
grass clippings or even old pieces of carpet because weeds will take
hold in them. But you will mainly have to weed the beds, rather than
the whole area.
also concentrates your soil building efforts in the areas where the
vegetables are growing, instead of wasting your time, effort and
organic matter in the walkways. You can plant your vegetables a
little closer together in the beds than you normally would because
the soil in them is not compacted by foot traffic. This permits the
foliage of the vegetables to create a canopy over the beds that will
help shade out many germinating weed seeds.
You should also
mulch the beds once your vegetable transplants are in and
direct-seeded crops are growing. You can use newspaper (newsprint,
even colored newsprint, but not the glossy ads; they may contain
lead), composted grass clippings, shredded leaves or clean oat
straw. Or you may choose to lay black plastic over the beds prior to
planting and seal the edges with soil. Cut holes in the plastic
where you want to place the vegetable plants. Both types of mulch
help keep the weeds down and conserve soil moisture.
vegetables are in and growing, try to hand pull any weeds while they
are small and before they go to seed. Although farmers use
herbicides to control weeds in their fields, few herbicides are
labeled for use in the home vegetable garden because so many
different plants are grown in close proximity to one another.
Should herbicides be used?
There are some
products that prevent weed seeds from germinating, known as
pre-emergent herbicides. Corn gluten meal and trifluralin are the
primary ones available to home gardeners. Corn gluten meal is sold
under various trade names such as Preen Vegetable Garden Weed
Preventer, Espoma Lawn & Garden Corn Gluten and Without Weeds (WOW).
It is not as effective as synthetic pre-emergent herbicides, but it
is labeled for organic production.
is sold under a number of trade names and is a common active
ingredient in crabgrass preventers. While not all formulations of trifluralin are labeled for use in home vegetable gardens, Preen
Garden Weed Preventer is labeled for that use. Be sure to read and
follow the directions carefully and remember that more is never
better when it comes to using pesticides.
Zucchini blossom end rot
Composting for the garden