Weeds cover naked soil, an important ecological
role. You can eliminate weeds by simply depriving them of a reason to be
by eliminating naked soil. If you can see naked soil in your garden,
you are inviting weeds. Newspaper mulches have been mentioned.
They work but let me suggest three better approaches: mulch, mulch and
more mulch. Mulch everywhere, always. Consider naked soil, not
weeds, the enemy. Mulching with organic materials like pulled weeds, grass
clippings, garden debris, coffee grounds, spent grain, etc is also a way of
composting in place so you are preventing weeds, saving water (mulching can
cut back water use by 75%), feeding soil, and creating pathogen and
After planting, when your intended garden
plants demonstrate that they have established roots by putting out true leaves,
you can put down a layer of mulch around them. Add a layer weekly and weed
seeds (always present) can't germinate. You have literally smothered
them. Every time you add a mulch layer it helps the layers underneath
decompose. By the time your tomatoes or cabbages need to start heavy
feeding your mulches have added new energy-supplying humus.
If the above approach seems counter-intuitive, pick
up one of Ruth Stout's books (it doesn't matter which one; they are all about
the same thing). She was a big advocate of straw mulches for weed control,
water retention and feeding soil.
Mulching is a simple, effective approach to a
weedless garden. Don't forget to lay your weeds back down after pulling
them. They've robbed nutrients in your soil which is best returned. Don't
worry about weed seeds; we aren't going to give them a chance to
germinate. Weeds be gone...poof!
This year, because of the abnormal amount of
rainfall we are experiencing, we seem to have an abundance
of misplaced plants, a.k.a. weeds in our
Before spring planting next year, I am determined
to resolve this issue.
Our garden has about 2000' ft of planted
Here are some of my options:
A -- Use newspaper (sections).
cost. Promotes recycling in the garden.
Can be tilled in after season.
Con: Very labor
B-- Use commercial grade (25 year)
Easy to roll out, can be used year after year.
C-- Rolled heavy duty brown wrapping
Pro: Easy to
roll out, can be tilled in after season.
determined cost yet.
I will not use:
Broken up cardboard boxes.
Pro: Easy to
Con: Too labor extensive to
prepare and install.
sure if it will degrade enough to till in after season.
Plastic in any form.
Option B can accomplished via donations to purchase
If I go with Option A, I will have volunteers paper
tape each section together prior
to Plant Day (this is the option I am leaning
By properly laying down this weed barrier and leaf
mulch, I can eliminate many
hours required to remove the weeds within the rows.
Our volunteers love to harvest, but
weeding is not at the top of the list of enjoyable
tasks. Such is gardening.
Actually, most of our volunteers do not own a hoe
or know how to use one.
When I first moved to Huntsville, Alabama, within
the first week, I witnessed two
While checking out at a 7-11. a guy with pocket
protector actually pulled out
a slide rule to calculate his
A few days later, I noticed the neighborhood
news delivery kid was throwing newspapers from
the passenger seat of a Corvette driven by his
I thought, what planet did I land on?
Thanks for any input to the weed barrier
Jim Call, CASA Community Garden Volunteer