When weeds can’t be eaten, they need to be controlled. Whether your gardens are full of flowers or vegetables, weeds are something we all deal with every year if we don’t want our gardens overrun by them. My vegetable garden is no exception. I’ve tried several things, including giving up (which I don’t recommend). I’ve come to the conclusion that even though keeping control of the weeds is always hard work, there are some practical ways of going about it.
Hand weeding is usually called for at least on some level, but with a garden our size (40ft x 80ft) it would take forever to get the whole thing plucked by hand.
I’ve tried putting down newspaper to block weeds, which worked somewhat. Weeds could still grow in between the papers, so it would take a lot to cover sufficiently. Black plastic sheeting is a good alternative to this (which is what we currently have around melon plants). We’ve used 6 mil plastic that comes in a huge roll, then cut to size to go in between each row of plants, covering all the edges with dirt to hold it down. It worked great, but it got brittle after the second summer and we didn’t feel we could afford buying two huge rolls every other year (it’s pricey).
This year I’m trying a couple of new methods. The first is to hand weed the immediate area around the plants and then use a reel mower to cut everything else short enough that it doesn’t go to seed. So far this is working, and it makes the garden look nice. The reel mower is something that was left behind by the previous owner of the first house we bought. I just recently sharpened it and got it cutting. The reel mower doesn’t use gasoline — just muscle power — and is gentle on the plants. I think power mowers blow stuff around too much around and may damage plants.
The second new method is a scuffle hoe. The kind I have (shown in the video) is triangle shaped and very sharp on all edges. All you have to do is push and pull the hoe and it cuts in both directions, and does so quite easily! The scuffle hoe I have was made by Rogue using recycled agricultural disc blades. Cool! I am very happy with this tool and highly recommend it because it is way easier to use than any other hand weeding tool I’ve had. Check out this website for more information: www.RogueHoe.com
If you have any great ideas for weed control, especially chemical-free, “green,” and cheap methods, please share your knowledge!