A spray of glyphosate one week before planting will also stop weeds in a vegetable garden. Most herbicides that are listed for use around edibles require one day to two weeks before it is safe to harvest. Consult the label carefully.
We are often asked, “What is the best way to weed my vegetable garden?” Depending on the size of your vegetable bed, it is often best to hoe in weeds as long as they haven’t gone to seed. Hand weed the ones that have seed heads or you will just be planting them when you hoe. Weeds are like any other vegetation and will compost into the soil, adding nutrients. Hoeing is easy on the knees and less time consuming than hand weeding an entire bed. Keep weeds out of a vegetable garden by hoeing weekly before the plants have time to get big and cause a problem.
Weeds not only compete for water, nutrients, and growing space but also provide a haven and hiding place for disease and pests. Vegetable weeds controlled early in the season can help prevent these issues and slow the spread of the nuisance plants.
It is also wise to check the label of an herbicide to see if it is safe to use around a particular vegetable. For instance, Trifluran cannot be used around cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, onions, squashes, or melons. Removing weeds from the vegetable garden also requires care in chemical application.
Controlling Weeds in a Vegetable Garden
Another option is to lay a plastic or thick layer of organic mulch between the rows of vegetables. This will prevent weed seed from taking hold. Another option is a pre-emergent spray to keep weeds out of a vegetable garden, such as Trifluralin. It will not control existing weeds but can be used before planting to prevent new ones from emerging.
Controlling weeds in a vegetable garden is important to the health of your plants. Weeds are huge competitors for resources and can crown out seedlings. Their tenacious nature and ability to seed fast makes it quite a chore to stop weeds in a vegetable garden. Herbicides are an obvious solution, but you need to be careful what you use around edibles. Manual control is effective but is a labor intensive method to keep weeds out of a vegetable garden. A combination of approaches and good initial site preparation are key to vegetable weed control.
Cultural controls are safe and effective methods of weed control. These may include synthetic or organic mulches, weeding, or hoeing and cover crops. Cover crops fill in the proposed vegetable garden to prevent weeds from getting a hold and also add nutrients to the soil when they are tilled in spring.
Considerations in Weed Control
Drift is a problem that occurs during wind days when the chemical floats over to non-target plants. If you are using black plastic and use an herbicide, you must take care to rinse it completely before planting through the plastic. All instructions and cautions should be followed on any chemical application.
Wow, that’s really useful, thanks to your website for sharing this!
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I’ve had a heck of a time with this spiky low pinwheel weed for the past three years at our home. I’ve spent most of my summer pulling these things out by the root (or trying to), and my poor fingers have been spiked to the nubs. Found out recently that they’re Canada thistle, and read that the most effective way of getting rid of them is to cut them off at the ground, not pull them up by the roots. If one little bit of root is left behind, it’ll grow back. But if you force the plant to regrow its leaves it’ll eventually use up all of its energy and die.
Most spacing recommendations, however, are based on the assumption that adjoining plants will barely touch when they reach mature size, so stick with the guidelines when working with plants that are prone to foliar diseases, such as bee balms (Monarda didyma and cvs., USDA Hardiness Zones 4–9) and phloxes (Phlox paniculata and cvs., Zones 4–8).
6. Water the plants you want, not the weeds you’ve got
The one more thing that is not mentioned is landscape fabric. I consider it quite effective and list its advantages at my site https://gardeningadviser.com/
Some light passes through chunky mulches, and often you will discover—too late—that the mulch you used was laced with weed seeds. It’s important to replenish the mulch as needed to keep it about 2 inches deep (more than 3 inches deep can deprive soil of oxygen). In any case, you can set weeds way back by covering the soil’s surface with a light-blocking sheet of cardboard, newspaper, or biodegradable fabric and then spreading prettier mulch over it.
Close plant spacing chokes out emerging weeds by shading the soil between plants. You can prevent weed-friendly gaps from the get-go by designing with mass plantings or in drifts of closely spaced plants rather than with polka dots of widely scattered ones. You can usually shave off about 25 percent from the recommended spacing.
Heat is the key to composting weeds
Now you’re cooking. Easier than solarizing, plug in an old Crock-Pot outdoors, turn it to its lowest setting, and warm batches of compost while you sleep (three hours at 160°F kills most weed seeds).
There is a new solution – the Garden HotZot kills weeds with jets of hot water. It’s organic, safe, fast and easy – http://www.hotzot.biz