weed-free flower garden with mulch

Photo: Marie C Fields/Shutterstock

With the help of Columbus, Ohio, landscaping experts Old World Garden Farms, we bring you five tips for eliminating weeds in your garden. With consistent maintenance (only 10 minutes per day!), less back-stressing labor, and some smarts, your garden can be weed free and yield more produce.

1. Mulch, mulch, mulch: Bare soil is an invitation for weeds to seed and take root. By covering the soil with mulch, you can prevent future weeds from growing. Old World Garden Farms uses straw and shredded leaf mulch in its walking rows, and compost around the plants. Organic materials like straw and leaves are the best mulch for your vegetable garden. They decompose to enrich the soil with nitrogen. Be sure that you are getting straw and not hay. Hay contains grass seeds that can blow around and sprout all over your yard. Straw is just the hollow stems of wheat plants.

2. Aerate your soil by hoeing: Old World Garden Farms recommends hoeing around the base of plants once a week, to a depth of only three to five inches. If you loosen any weeds when hoeing, collect them in a bucket and let the sun cook them to death (if you have chickens, you can feed the weeds to the chickens, who love to eat them). Avoid over-hoeing your soil, as it can plant above-ground weeds into your soil. Tilling plants encourages weeds even more than hoeing, so mulch and plant cover crops instead of tilling.

3. Spend 10 minutes a day weeding: Most home improvement experts will tell you that slow and steady wins the race. You won't need to spend hours weeding on the weekends if you go out into the garden and weed for 10 minutes every day. Weeding every day prevents the roots of weeds from having time to grow big. When you are out in your garden, you can also weed as you go. It's a good way to make the most of limited gardening time.

4. Keep walking-rows weed free: The weeds in those walking rows will transplant themselves into your garden beds, so it's extra important to keep walking rows free of weeds. You can cover walking rows with black plastic, with stones or gravel, or with straw. Just make sure that your 10 minutes of weeding time per day includes walking rows.

5. Plant cover crops: Old World Garden Farms says that planting cover crops in the fall prevents spring and summer weeds. Again, bare soil is an invitation for weeds to take root. Cover crops sharply reduce the amount of bare soil in your garden. They also form a buffer between the garden bed and any weed seeds that might fall on it. Cover crops do double duty as fertilizers for the garden, and also can act as an ecologically friendly alternative to grass lawns.

Chaya Kurtz originally wrote this story for Networx.com. It is reprinted with permission here.

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