Friday, April 30, 2010

No chickens today.

But I have a good reason: I was busy all day with work, helping someone move, and then an anniversary date. Yes, that's right, today is our 12th anniversary. Okay, by today, I mean April 30th. Because May 1st is not our anniversary-- that's my birthday.

So because I was busy all day, I still haven't taken the pictures I feel like I should use for my piece on the chickens. Thus, I will instead share some thoughts on basic organic weed control. This will apply to weed control in the garden

Weeds, contrary to many novice gardeners' belief, are not the bane of organic gardeners' existence. In truth, it's the bugs that really cause problems. But just as in the case with garden pests, there are some nice organic solutions to the weed problem which can help your garden flourish. These solutions can be broken down into two categories: prevention and elimination.


The old adage of "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies to weeds particularly well. Here are some of the more choice organic approaches to preventing weeds from growing in your beloved garden patch.

*Black plastic weed-blocker. This material is easy to come by at most nurseries and home improvement outlets. It is very simple. When you have your garden patch ready, with all of the manure or other organic materials tilled in and the soil well prepared, cover the patch completely with the black plastic weed-blocker. That's right, cover the whole patch.

When you're ready to put your seeds or seedlings into the ground, you can simply cut holes into the weed-blocker cloth for your plants to grow through. What's nice is that most of this cloth is porous enough to allow water to get through and keep the plants you want to grow fed. However, this writer has found that laying out soaker hose and then covering the patch with the cloth works best.

*Mulching. This approach is simple, but is not quite as reliable as the weed-blocker cloth. The intent is the same: to not allow the weeds to grow. However, arranging mulch around your plants and seeded areas simply doesn't work as well to block weeds. This is because the weed seeds that come from the trees or plants nearby can still work their way through the piles of mulch and establish themselves.
The benefit of using mulch, on the other hand, is that mulch is a nice organic material that fertilizes even while it is blocking weeds from growing.

*Soil cultivation. As you work the soil of your garden plot, you will naturally be helping it become healthier. You will also be eliminating any old established roots of weeds and grass that were already there. I know a woman who has been nurturing her garden plot for over twenty years. She has no problems whatsoever with weeds.


*Organic herbicides. There are several effective organic herbicides on the market today. These include AllDown, Xpress and Matran 2. These have been shown to be more effective on emerging weeds than on established weeds, but they can still help with established weeds.

But that's not all! Some organic gardeners have found that vinegar can be an effective herbicide as well. To try this out, use a sponge to apply your household vinegar onto the leaves of the weeds you want to kill. You can also try this with soap, but most soaps will not kill weeds.

*Manual destruction. In the desert, some folks use a portable propane torch to burn weeds out of their garden areas. This is effective and is also a permanent solution. If done carefully, this approach will do no damage to the garden plants you are nurturing.

Another manual approach to weeds is to simply pull them. In order to increase your ability to pull weeds easily and completely, water well the day before you are going to weed. This will soften the ground, making it easier to pull weeds. You can also use a hoe to cut down weeds en masse, although this will leave the roots in most cases. But as a quick fix to large amounts of young weeds, the hoe can't be beaten.

Ultimately, using organic approaches to killing weeds is a choice that each gardener has to make individually. What it comes down to is whether you are willing to do a little extra work to keep the soil of your garden properly balanced.

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