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Non-Chemical Weeding

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
02 October 2015   |   11:20 pm
THE gardener’s versus weeds battle happens every season but it is not just for aethestics. A garden bed full of weeds leaves little nutrients and space for the plants you actually want to grow. When not controlled, weeds spread quickly, choking and snuffing out your seedlings. Taking steps to clear the bed before you plant,…


Garden-claw-3-10-15
Rototiller-3-10-15
THE gardener’s versus weeds battle happens every season but it is not just for aethestics. A garden bed full of weeds leaves little nutrients and space for the plants you actually want to grow. When not controlled, weeds spread quickly, choking and snuffing out your seedlings. Taking steps to clear the bed before you plant, allows your garden plants to thrive.

Manual Method (Dig Up)
Manual removal gets rid of the weeds without chemicals. It takes physical efforts but you clear the bed of weeds instantly instead of waiting for other weed removal methods to work. When digging up weeds, you need to remove the entire root. Many weeds grow back from the roots even if the visible plant above the ground is gone. This method won’t get rid of any weed seeds in the soil that may start growing. If you aren’t planting immediately, experts suggest irrigating after manually removing the weeds so those seeds start growing. Garden-bed-3-10-15This allows you to dig them up as soon as they sprout, and before you can plant.

Heat It
Solarisation – is essentially using the sun to cook weeds and their seeds and this is another chemical free-method of getting rid of weeds in a garden bed, it takes up to six weeds to complete. Soil solarisation wipes out all the weeds at once so you don’t have to remove each one individually. Solarisation works best in our hot, sunny climate with little or no wind. Start with a smooth bed free of large dirt clumps. Irrigate the soil so it is moist 12 inches deep. Lay clear plastic tarp over the soil, using a trench to bury the edges to hold the plastic in place. The clear plastic lets the sun shine through to better heat up the weeds. Solarisation also kills soil pathogens and insects. So you may follow up with the steps of cardboard/news paper mulch and water regularly.

Smother It (With Cardboard/or Newspaper)
Waterbed-3-10-15Opposite of solarisation is layering materials over the bed to smother the weeds and deprive them of sunlight. Either cardboard or newspaper works as the material to block the weeds from growing. Top cardboard or newspaper using at least two layers thick cardboard or 10 to 20 layers of newspaper. Top the cardboard or newspaper with organic material. You have the option of planting on top of the bed as it is by adding a few inches of compost. You can also leave the bed until the following planting season or plant a cover crop until you are ready to put in your garden plants.

Prevent More Weeds
The bed preparation is key to preventing future weed outbreaks. Once you’ve removed all of the visible weeds in your garden area, use a rototiller to work the soil. Add compost or other organic material to increase the fertility of the bed. A fertile garden allows the plants to grow well, which helps push out the weeds. Use landscape fabric, black plastic or cardboard to cover the soil between your plants to prevent new weeds from growing up in the garden mulch is another way to curtail new weed growth.