Organic Weeding for Diversity, Taste and Great Gardening Experience
Weeds are considered to be a great danger to gardens. Weeds compete with our planted plants for nutrition, water, sunlight and space, and very soon they start dominating the garden. But if you want to develop a healthy organic garden, you should understand that letting some weeds grow is actually beneficial to your garden. Moreover, it offers you a more relaxed experience of gardening. Let’s see what is organic weeding.
Meaning of Weeds
What are weeds? They are simply plants you don’t want. That way, even a tomato plant grown by your previous homeowner in your yard can be a weed if you don’t want it. If you want to be a mature gardener, you should develop the habit of weed tolerance, for which you should reconsider the way you define a weed. A common criterion for weed tolerance is the virtual difficulty in eradicating the weed. E.g. deep taproots like common pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) or perennials with much spread roots like quackgrass (Agropyron repens) are very difficult to eliminate, and so you may want to keep them.
Another aspect is several plants accused as weeds, like prostrate knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) and milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) attract beneficial insects which help in pollinating your plants and eat harmful insects like mites, aphids and thrips. Still others are in fact delicious to eat. These are common purslane (Portulaca oleracea), common lamb’s-quarters (Chenopodium album), miner’s lettuce (Montia perfoliata) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). [WARNING: Ensure that you have correctly identified an edible weed, before mixing it in your salad.] Some aggressive intruders like Himalayan blackberry (Rubus procerus) and pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) were esteemed as ornamental before being driven out of the garden.
Even though you want to adopt a weed tolerance policy, you will of course want to control their vigorous growth through prevention and eradication. Weeds are opportunists growing wherever conditions are favorable. How to control them in organic way?
Pull them Young
This can possibly the best way of defense against weeds, i.e. pulling them while they are young and before they get set. You will have to learn weeds when they are young seedlings, so that you can nab them as soon as they pop up.
An old gardening rule is “One year’s seeding is seven years’ weeding”. If you haven’t found weeds when they were young, don’t let them reach the stage of seeding.
Organic mulching includes shredded leaves, compost, dried grass clippings, bark, wood chips and other eco-friendly items. Make a layer 2 to 3 inch thick upon the weeds which will prevent sunlight from getting to the weed seeds, thereby stopping their germination. Do mulching promptly after you do weeding or dig your soil. Be careful to keep mulch away from your plant stems to keep away rotting which may be caused by moisture in the mulch. Another advantage of mulch is it conserves water, keep the roots cool and nurtures the soil while it decomposes.
Let your plantation be thick, so plant them near each other so that they will use up the available space, water, nutrition and sunlight, thus bullying out weeds.
Never pull perennial weeds with hand. It will give rise to another weed, because of retention of root. Take a long screwdriver or a dedicated weed-pulling tool that has a forked end and pull weeds with it.
You may require a shovel with which you can dig out relentless perennial weeds. Get as much of the runners and roots as possible. You may have to do many diggings to eradicate something particularly stubborn, like Canada thistle.
To scuff off the topmost layer of annual weeds, you will need a hula hoe (diamond-shaped). Don’t dig more than an inch depth; otherwise it may harm the roots of your planted plants. Deep hoeing also brings the buried weeds seeds in contact of sunlight, thus allowing them to germinate.
Using an inorganic method of weeding like covering the ground with plastic sheets is actually unnecessary, because the dream of a garden totally free of weed is unrealistic. By allowing some weeds, you can bring in diversity, get some delicious additions for your salad and also find more time for your much desired garden activities like relaxing in a hammock or swing, the very purpose for which you have created the garden.