What are garden weeds, and how do I get rid of them in my garden?
Actually asking what is a weed is not that unusual. Someone once said "weeds are simply plants that are growing where they do not belong."
And for us vegetable gardeners, they do not belong in our garden, our driveway, or anywhere on our property. But as sure as the sun will rise each day we can be sure that after the first spring rain arrives so will the weeds.
Weeds are usually classified as an annual, biennial, or a perennial and are as follows:
Now that we have identified the type of weeds we do battle with we need to know what to do to rid ourselves of them.
Garden weeds don't need our help to grow; they do quite well on their own. You can relieve yourself of as much misery as possible by doing a little
Here is a list of good habits that should become part of any vegetable gardener's routine:
Act the moment you see the first weed, the quicker you respond the fewer there will be.
Make sure any soil you bring into the garden is weed free.
Mulch where possible (we will discuss this later).
Use proper bending and kneeling methods to protect your back.
If you use chemical herbicide, handle with care and follow the manufactures instructions.
And, use common sense.
If your vegetable garden is a small to medium area, hand weeding is probably the best and most effective means of weed control. There are several tools available to aid you in your weed removal such as a garden fork, cultivator, spade, or Dutch hoe.
I find hand removal of garden weeds much easier after a day of rain. Those weeds that were previously stubborn to hand
removal before, come out with ease using a spade or garden fork.
The ground is damp allowing the tool to slide into the soil with ease and slip under the root.
However, do be careful not to strain your back. Use common sense and work one small patch at a time over several days. If bending is a problem try a round-edge shovel instead of a spade or garden fork. Use your foot on the upper edge of the shovel and apply a downward pressure.
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There are three methods that can be used to kill garden weeds; mechanical weeding, organic weeding, and chemical weeding.
This is a hands on approach that is probably the simplest and most effective way of weeding, although it can be as one would put it; a "back-breaker." If you have a small garden area this method will work fine. I can't deny it's tough slugging, but it does offer an added bonus, your body will get a little exercise. "Hey!... We got to find a little something positive somewhere in this dreaded task."
If your garden is larger and you are ambitious, another effective mechanical weed removal method is the use of a power tool such as a garden tiller or cultivator. A good cultivator can be a little pricey to purchase but can be rented. Check with Lowe's or Home Depot to see if this option is available in your area.
When the soil is cultivated and all the weeds removed, use a little diligence and check for new growth of garden weeds over a ten day time frame. Because the soil is loose due to cultivating, any new weed growth will come out with little resistance.
I know this is a tedious job, but nothing about garden weeds is a fun process. Once your garden is weed free, you can relax and enjoy the pleasure your vegetable garden will give you throughout the growing season.
The following are some creative and effective methods to kill garden weeds and are worth trying.
Think of chemical weed killing as a last resort. Sometimes it may be your only option, especially if you have a physical disability that impedes your mobility. If this is the case, then do treat chemical herbicides with respect.
When using any form of chemical weed killer, be sure to first read the instructions on the label and follow the manufactures recommended use. Herbicides are poisonous so memorize or write down the telephone number for poison control. Also, use precautionary safety measures and wear protective clothing, gloves, eye goggles, and a face mask to cover your mouth and nose.
Always make sure a chemical herbicide container is clearly marked poison and easy to read, and if there are any left-over chemicals after use, be sure to dispose of the solution according to manufacture instructions.
Last but not least, wash out the chemical sprayer when finished and don't forget to thoroughly wash your hands and any other area of exposed skin. Be sure to store chemicals in a safe place out of reach of children and do not use any container that is not approved by the manufacture.
For some readers this may sound a little like "over-kill," but do keep in mind that is exactly what you are intending to do with garden weeds when using chemical herbicides. Let's not ruin your day by ending up in the hospital for chemical herbicide treatment.
Always read the manufactures instructions for best results and safety of use. The next time you visit your local nursery, remember to ask one of their experts for advice on which type of pre-emergent herbicides will work best for your garden.
There are many types of herbicides on the market that can be purchased at your local nursery, Lowe's, Home Depot, or your neighborhood hardware store such as Ace Hardware. One of the best chemical manufactures I recommend is Roundup made by Scotts Miracle-Gro. It has no residual effect on the soil and area treated. But to be sure, read the information on the products label. Manufactures may change what is in the solution.
Know the type of weed you wish to kill and make sure the herbicide you purchase will effectively work on that type of weed. It is worth a trip to you local nursery to talk with a qualified nursery expert for advice and use of any chemical herbicide.
One of the most common problems when working in the garden and most evident when removing garden weeds is poor work habits. Your back is one of your greatest assets so take care of it.
Although there are many techniques I could suggest for bending to work with garden weeds, the best advice I could give is check with your doctor or chiropractor.
I can't stress this point strong enough, especially if you feel healthy and strong. A wrong twist or bend may be all it will take to ruin your garden experience now and in the future.
In closing, I can't think of a better way than to remind you that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
To identify weeds you may have in your garden read weed identification guide.
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