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Is weed-free gardening possible? Without using pesticides and herbicides? Sure it is!
While no method can guarantee absolutely no weeds, you can definitely avoid most of the weeds that want to grow in your garden this year!
It takes a little forethought before the growing season. You will have to spend some time out in the cold and mud, but it will be worth it.
Preparing for the growing season is part of gardening! There is no success for those who just put plants in the ground without any soil amendments or preparation.
Take the time to fertilize your soil each year prior to planting! Fertilize after the growing season as well! The soil must be fed and healthy to have a well-producing garden!
The weed avoiding methods that I will show you today are timeless and have been used for hundreds of years. What are these methods called?
Smothering and mulching.
Actually, smothering is the first step and mulching is the second step.
“Smothering” is the technique that you’ll use far before you put any plants in the ground.
Weeds begin far before we see them.
Weed seeds are always present in the soil, but stay dormant through the winter. Weed seeds get there several ways, by birds, over-tilling, the wind and seeds that drop off from mother plants.
As the soil warms up in the Spring and everything is coming out of winter dormancy, these weed seeds are ready to sprout as well!
The weed seeds must be smothered BEFORE you plant your garden!
About 30 days before the last frost (in your area) is when you want to do this.
Using a tarp to cover your garden 30 days (longer if you can) before planting will eliminate most of your issues with weeds.
Because the sun will create heat under your dark-colored plastic or tarp and will kill most of your weed seeds.
Then remove the plastic or tarp and allow the sun to warm your soil and the rain to bring much needed oxygen.
One way people cause most of their own weeds is by over-tilling their gardens.
I try to not till at all, although there are times you must. I suggest that you cover those tilled areas with a tarp and kill the weeds that you just brought to the surface before planting.
Once the weed seeds are taken care of and your soil is prepared, it’s time to plant! (Assuming you’ve passed your last frost date!).
“Mulching” is the next method to use to keep your garden “weed-free”.
Plan and plant your garden (use companion plants as much as possible!).
Once your plants are in the soil, and your seeds have sprouted, it’s time to place either newspaper, old burlap or cardboard in and through your rows, and in between plants if possible.
I prefer cardboard, but use what you can get your hands on.
Saving shipping boxes from Christmas or other materials throughout the winter is a good way to have enough cardboard once garden season rolls around. This layer should smother the weed seeds that survived the “smothering”, as well as new seeds brought by birds and wind.
Newspaper ink is made from soy, so it’s not necessary to be concerned about ink getting in my soil.
All of this mulch is bio-degradable! Continue to add mulch as needed.
This will allow a micro-environment to grow, which will make your soil even healthier!
You might see a weed here and there, but by and large, you will have a much more productive, weed free and enjoyable garden!