When you can’t remove weeds, the next best thing is to chop off their heads. With annual weeds, deadheading buys you a few weeks of time before the weed “seed rain” begins. Cutting back the tops of perennial weeds, like bindweed, reduces reseeding and forces them to use up food reserves and exhaust their supply of root buds, thus limiting their spread.
Chopping off weed heads feels good and you’ll reap short- and long-term benefits. Photo: Brandi Spade
3. Weed when the weeding’s good
The old saying “Pull when wet; hoe when dry” is wise advice when facing down weeds. After a drenching rain, stage a rewarding weeding session by equipping yourself with gloves, a sitting pad, and a trug or tarp for collecting the corpses. As you head out the door, slip an old table fork into your back pocket because there’s nothing better for twisting out tendrils of henbit or chickweed. When going after bigger thugs, use a fishtail weeder to pry up taprooted weeds, like dandelion or dock.
Put drought on your side by depriving weeds of water. Placing drip or soaker hoses beneath mulch efficiently irrigates plants while leaving nearby weeds thirsty. In most climates, depriving weeds of water reduces weed-seed germination by 50 to 70 percent. Watch out, though, for the appearance of deeply rooted perennial weeds, such as bindweed and nutsedge, in areas that are kept moist. They can take off in a flash when given the benefits of drip irrigation.
Monday: Kill weeds. Tuesday: Kill weeds …
Good point about minding the gaps. Proper placement of plants is one of the best natural weed control methods. http://www.gardenerhack.com/5-weed-control-hacks-weed-free-garden/
Weeds not only compete for water, nutrients, and growing space but also provide a haven and hiding place for disease and pests. Vegetable weeds controlled early in the season can help prevent these issues and slow the spread of the nuisance plants.
A spray of glyphosate one week before planting will also stop weeds in a vegetable garden. Most herbicides that are listed for use around edibles require one day to two weeks before it is safe to harvest. Consult the label carefully.
Controlling Weeds in a Vegetable Garden
Another option is to lay a plastic or thick layer of organic mulch between the rows of vegetables. This will prevent weed seed from taking hold. Another option is a pre-emergent spray to keep weeds out of a vegetable garden, such as Trifluralin. It will not control existing weeds but can be used before planting to prevent new ones from emerging.
Considerations in Weed Control
It is also wise to check the label of an herbicide to see if it is safe to use around a particular vegetable. For instance, Trifluran cannot be used around cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, onions, squashes, or melons. Removing weeds from the vegetable garden also requires care in chemical application.