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Here are a few facts to help get a weed free vegetable plot.
Weeds have to be dealt with before they seed, to stop them multiplying & becoming a real problem.
How to tell a weed from a vegetable plant.
The definition of a weed is a plant out of place. So a weed is only a weed if you don’t want it there.
If you have planted a row of vegetable seeds, anything growing out of the row may be classed as a weed. It is therefore important to:
- be organised
- mark rows at either end with prominent sticks
- keep the distance between rows at least the width of your hoe
- hoe regularly between rows, shallowly, as soon as you see leaves emerging
Watch the vegetable plants within the row. Hopefully your seeds will all emerge at about the same time, and look similar. Any rogue plants can be pulled out.
A weed-free vegetable garden is a healthy garden, because:
- Air is able to circulate freely around the vegetables, which helps the battle against fungal diseases, such as blight and mildew.
- Insects will not be able to hide on weeds
- The gardener is more in control of the plot if the crops are not obscured by weeds.
- Water is used more efficiently if there are only crops, and no weeds to take up the water.
Weeding – ways to get rid of weeds:
- Handpulling weeds is sometimes easier than hoeing in early summer, particularly if the soil is loose.
- Get rid of weeds as soon as they appear.
- Look out for the first seed leaves of weeds (they are called cotyledons).
- As soon as the weeds appear, hoe them out.
Things that make weeding easier:
- Friable soils which are not compacted or trodden down
- Wide rows – Having enough room between the rows to use hand tools for hoeing & breaking the soils, makes working easy.
- Weed when the weeds are small. Hitting the weeds before they get too big, & before they have had time to develop a strong root system, makes it easier, too!
- Little & Often Weeding makes it less of a chore. You are more likely to adopt a little & often approach if it is not hard work.It is easier to hoe the weeds when they are very small, before the roots have grown to anchor them in the soil.
Make life easy & leave the hoe at the end of the veg plot, so you can pick it up as you go to inspect the vegetables.
Hoe when the soil is dry. Then the weeds will die quickly.
- Five minutes with a hoe as you inspect the vegetables each evening has a significant effect.
- Make the rows wider than the hoe, so hoeing can be quick with no fear of chopping up the vegetables.
- Hoe shallow
* to make it easy * to avoid disturbing the roots of the vegetables * shallow hoeing is possible if hit weeds early
The ideal hoe is sharp & shiny, so the soil does not stick to it. A good quality stainless steel hoe will keep shiny & sharp. Most people do not have time to maintain tools – so get a good one, that will look after itself. Have a look at this on which is an affiliate link:
In spring, unwanted potato plants appear in the vegetable garden and these should be treated as weeds
A little and often approach helps to get a weed free garden without too much stress.