Organic Garden Update: Dealing with the pesky weeds! (Guest Post)

I hate to break it to you folks, but by far the best, chemical-free method of weeding around crops is simply pulling them up. Although it’s not the most fun or glamourous of activities, it’s effective at preventing weed regrowth without damaging your plants. I’d recommend getting a kneeler (to take some of the strain out of kneeling down for long periods), and keeping a bucket close to hand for collecting weeds (thus saving lots of trips back and forth to the compost bin)- these little things really do make a world of difference. I also find that listening to music/singing/chatting with a friend also makes the task much more cheerful! :)

To sort out large areas of low-growing weeds, you could try covering them with a tarp or bin bag to block out light. Stop it from blowing away and ending up in your neighbour’s garden with stones or bricks.

You could also try a weed control fabric (also referred to by a range of similar names such as weed control membrane, landscape fabric and weed barrier fabric). Some have to be covered using mulch (see below). One potential issue with this method, however, is that it prevents organic material reaching the soil, diminishing the quality of your soil over time. I’ve also found that some tough weeds can manage to break through the fabric. Because they are surrounded by fabric, any weeds that do grow are very difficult to remove.

Mulching around plants can provide an effective means of slowing weed growth. Common types of mulch include woodchip or bark chips. Organic mulches such as woodchip and bark chips are best, as they will eventually rot down and enrich the soil. Make sure you pull out all existing weeds by hand before putting down mulch, and leave adequate mulch-free space around plants. You also need to think carefully about where in your garden you are putting down mulch - it can cause the soil to retain too much water in damp areas and cause shallow plant roots to “bake” in areas that get a lot of sun. I’ve also heard that it can also encourage slugs by providing them with food and shelter- so this is a method to use with care.

For areas where you don’t want anything to grow (patios, gravelled areas etc.) boiling water is by far the best solution. Be careful that you don’t scald yourself when carrying the hot water outside. This method will kill all plants in the treated area.

You can also try vinegar on patios and gravelled areas. Again, however, you need to exercise caution as you won’t get anything to grow in an area in which you have treated with vinegar, and it can also leach via the soil into other parts of your garden.  The same goes for salt, which is also sometimes used as a natural weed killer.

You might also want to check out my earlier post on spring planting:-

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting One:

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Two:

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Three:

Organic Garden Update: Spring Planting Four:

Happy (and hopefully weed-free) gardening!

Love Becky x

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