With the following organic weed control methods, you can overcome intrusive plants without using toxic chemical herbicides. All you need is a little elbow grease and some ingenuity!
Tip One: Mulch
Plants need light to produce chlorophyll, which they need to germinate. By spreading a thick layer of organic mulch- grass clippings, shredded bark, or dry leaves- you can stop the weeds from baring their ugly heads.
Those weeds that do get through the mulch will be shallow rooted and easy to pull.
For an even stronger weed-prevention barrier, put a layer of newspaper, craft paper, or cardboard over your soil during the non-growing months. Once you’ve sown your crop, lay the paper shreddings or mulch in between rows or plants for ongoing protection.
The cardboard or craft paper barrier has been shown to protect gardens from weed growth for up to two seasons without being replaced.
Tip Two: Solarization
If you can bare to leave your garden bed fallow for a few weeks in the summer, you can let the sun’s heat work against them.
First, pull and rake as many weeds as possible out of the garden. Moisten the soil. Then lay down a sheet of thick, clear plastic. Either bury it at the edges or weight it down, creating an insular effect. Leave it there for six weeks. The sun’s rays will cook out the weeds and your garden will be ready to plant.
Tip Three: Hoe It to Grow It!
Annual weeds will die if you sever the root about an inch below the soil. Hold your swan-necked hoe like you would a broom to prevent backaches, and chop at the weeds in short hard strokes. When it’s all cleared, rake up the mess!
For the deeper-rooted perennial weeds, you may need a hand tool like a weed-puller. This looks like a long rod with a forked end. Bury it into the soil next to the plant and wedge the root out from underneath. Make sure to use a garden mat for your knees!
Tip Three: Salt and Boil
When you make a big pot of pasta for your summer picnic’s macaroni salad, pour the leftover boiling water on those pesky weeds. In a couple of days, the weeds that were scorched will shrivel up and die. Just be careful not to get any on your sprouting tomato plants!
If you can’t boil ‘em, salt ‘em. At the end of the snowy season, stock up on inexpensive rock salt. Sprinkle it in your gravel beds or paths to keep weeds at bay. Just don’t use this method between your rows of vegetables, as the salt will melt and also kill the plants you want to keep.
Tip Four: Kill Them With Vinegar
A little organic vinegar in a spray bottle can go a long way for some plants. However, for others there is no effect. While there’s no conclusive database that will help you differentiate, trial and error never hurt. Just put some organic vinegar in a bottle and spray the leaves of the unwanted plants. Check back in a few hours. If it’s going to work at all, the plant will have started to shrivel.
It’s best to spray vinegar when there’s no chance of rain, as it dilutes quickly and will lose its effect.
Tip Five: Persistence
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By laying down your barrier and staying on top of the weeds before your garden turns into a jungle, you’ll have no problem keeping weed-control under control.