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Weeding

Article by: Ted Rosen  |  Picture by: Ted Rosen
Weeding
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Weeds rob your plants of water, nutrients, sunlight and space. Weeding is a necessary task and part of your garden maintenance. This article describes how to weed, how to use mulch to suppress weeds and how to turn weeds into something valuable – compost.

Get the root
Weeding step picture 2
You can eliminate juvenile weeds using a hand or pole cultivator. For larger weeds, with root systems deeper than 2 or three thumb-widths, use a garden knife or similar tool to remove the entire root system along with the green head. Plunge the knife in the soil once or twice near the base of the weed and with your other hand gingerly pull it out. Weeds will re-grow if too much of the root system is left behind. Also, there are perennial weeds that will come back next year if the root system is not removed entirely.
Weed in moist soil
Weeding in moist soil will give you the best results by allowing you to remove the entire root system. If you try to weed in very dry or very wet soil, it is difficult to loosen the root system.
Mulching is weeding
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Mulching is your first defense against weeds, and is a lot easier on your back and knees! Whenever you turn over your soil you are stirring up weed seeds and creating conditions for them to germinate. Because mulching does not disturb the soil, it suppresses weed growth.
No place for herbicides
Herbicides, i.e. chemicals against weeds, are dangerous to your health. The toxins will go directly from the soil to your plant to you and your family. Weeds in or near your garden should only be controlled by removing them mechanically with your cultivator or garden knife and suppressing them with mulch. Also, keep in mind that spraying herbicides or chemicals on your lawn around your garden can drift onto your vegetable beds and poison your food.
Weeds are in the eye of the beholder
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Not everything that is considered a weed is necessarily a nuisance. Some weeds have striking flowers that outside your garden borders bring beauty and will look gorgeous arranged in an indoor bouquet. Other plants commonly considered weeds are edible and surprisingly nutritious: dandelions, stinging nettles, ramps, chamomile – to name just a few.
Weeds as compost
If you pull a weed before it has turned to seed, throw it on the compost pile.
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