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While we strongly dislike weeds trying to take over our food growing efforts, we love our bees and crawlies that are beneficial to our garden. While there are chemical ways to help keep the weed nuisance at bay in the garden, we prefer natural, organic methods here on our homestead. Thankfully, there are several ways to naturally control weeds without hurting our garden friends.
You can’t get rid of weeds 100% regardless of what you try, but you can keep them under control. The easiest method is to plan ahead. However, even if you already have your plants in your garden, it’s not a total loss. You can still keep them under control.
5 Ways to Naturally Control Weeds
Corn gluten meal
- This is the most natural pre-emergence weed control method there is. You can even use it in your “lawn” as a great substitute for that chemical “weed and feed” stuff you sprinkle all over in the spring. While corn gluten meal is great for a pre-emergent weed control, it won’t do anything to any existing plant life. This makes it safe to sprinkle around your already established plants. Keep in mind, it won’t do anything to existing weeds, either. Sprinkle 1 pound per 50 square foot of space and do it on a dry day with no rain in the forecast. If it’s going to rain, its going to get washed away, though you could rake it into the soil a bit with a hand rake to help it stay in place. Just sprinkle it around your garden to keep weeds from coming up. Everything i’ve read says it’s effective for about 6 weeks. So, if you put it on your garden before you plant anything, be sure to do it about 6 weeks before you plan to put anything in there or you’ll have no plants. Note: you must use herbicidal corn gluten meal, corn gluten meal labeled as animal feed isn’t going to control any weeds.
Hard work pays off
- Sometimes, you just have to do things yourself if you want them done right. While this is not anyone’s favorite task (if it is, you can come weed my garden), it is definitely effective and can be somewhat enjoyable (still not my favorite). Weeding is the most effective on a day with damp soil. The roots will come up much easier than picking a day where the ground is as dry as the Arizona desert in July. For larger roots, you’ll probably need a spade, but you can still get the job done. We throw ours in the compost once we dig them all out. If you do this often enough, it won’t become such a troublesome chore and weeds won’t take over. If weeds are close to existing plants that you don’t care to disturb, just chop off their tops so they don’t create more weeds.
- Vinegar has to be one of the most useful things on the planet, seriously. There is not much that vinegar can’t do (except keep plants alive haha). While I wouldn’t use this method directly in my veggie garden (vinegar will kill any plant, it’s not picky), I do use it along our walks and other non-garden surfaces where I don’t care if anything grows, ever. There are a ton of “recipes” for vinegar-based natural weed killers all over the internet. However, I find the easiest, most effective solution to be just plain-ol’ white vinegar. No frills, nothing added. Just squirt it on whatever you want to kill (if it’s a plant) and it will wither up quite quickly. If it doesn’t die with the first application, just apply more, eventually it will succumb.
Smother them out
- Even if you’ve already got your garden planted, you can smother the weeds. Cut the weeds down low to the ground. Then, place newspaper over the weeds, leaving a hole or what have you for your plant you want to survive. Layer some wood mulch over the newspaper and leave in place for several weeks. If there are some strong ones the bust through, cover it with another layer of paper and mulch.
- There are tons of companion plants that are beneficial to your growing vegetables. Plant a ton of them for not only the benefits of the companion plant, but to keep the weeds out. If you don’t have open spaces every quarter inch, then you won’t have weeds sprouting up everywhere, either. The less open space, the less weeds, so plant, plant plant.
No more synthetic chemicals. No more destroying the soil. No more killing beneficial garden friends. Just simple methods to keep the weeds from overtaking your food supply.