Weeds are an inevitable curse for gardeners. And, when you’re gardening organically, you have to resist the urge to zap them with chemicals and be done. Left unattended, weed-pulling can become a overwhelming chore and cause some gardeners to throw down their shovels in defeat. Fortunately, even for organic gardeners, there are a few things you can do to help keep weeds under control.
Here’s a tactic you can do about twice week to stop weed growth before it overtakes your plants. Using the sharp edge of a hoe, run it just below the surface of the soil to chop off the heads of sprouting weeds. This will help keep weeds from overtaking your plants, especially new seedlings.
Grow to love mulch, it is your friend. When your seedlings have grown a bit, put a layer of mulch down. Not only will it keep weeds from growing, it will hold in much needed moisture. You will want to use organic materials for mulching; things like dried grass clippings and pine needles make excellent organic mulch. You can also use leaves you’ve chopped up with your mower and well-rotted sawdust and shredded bark. These organic mulches put nourishment back into the soil as they decompose and make pretty effective weed deterrents.
You want to avoid fresh sawdust because it depletes the nitrogen supplies from the soil and also avoid fresh grass clippings. Be sure to apply several inches of mulch. Get in the habit of composting your grass clippings before you use them on your garden since they can harbor insects and disease.
If you’re going to all the trouble of mulching, make sure you don’t use too much or too little. If you spread it on too thick early in the season before the soil has had a chance to warm, you’ll hurt your heat loving plants. If you put down too little, weeds will soon start appearing through the mulch and you’ll have to weed by hand. Mulch also helps keep moisture in the soil, so if you use too little you’re plants will dry out faster, especially during dry spells.
It is possible to control your weeds organically but it will probably also take some actual physical labour. You can hoe and you can pull weeds by hand, just don’t let things get to the point where your spend to many back-breaking hours at it!