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Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Do you struggle with controlling weeds? I sure do! I think every gardeners does. Today I am going to share with you the importance of getting ahead of your weed problem and 12 ways to control your weeds organically. Let's get growing!

Do you struggle with weeds like I do?

Weeds are a common problem we all face in the garden!

Sadly, everything from tilling, leaving the soil bare, to watering, only encourages more weeds to grow.

I know every year I promise myself that I am not going to let the weeds win the war.

I seem to go into my war on weeds optimistic and ready to win every battle but then by mid-June the weeds begin to get the upper hand.

I'm sure it is the same for you!

I decided I needed help!

I am an organic gardener, so herbicides are not an option.

I even looked into organic herbicides. But, I found they all use salt and vinegar; which in the end is not much better. Too much salt in the soil can actually slow or even stop seed germination. Vinegar is an acid that kills by sucking moisture out of the plants. My thought is that it may kill the plant, but what will it do to the organisms in my soil, probably the same thing.

I have learned that I am not a cultivator of vegetables but a cultivator of soil.

Our soil is our foundation and as such is our main crop!

So with herbicides not being an option. Here is another article that talks about different alternatives. I found some alternative organic ways that will help me control my weeds!

I have implemented a few of these methods on my homestead and in my garden.

Before you begin using one of the below methods, it is first important to see if that said method will even work against the type of weed you are battling.

Your first step should be weed identification.

The most important part of a weed's information is how they spread.

How they spread is a weakness.

Let me give you an example: dandelions spread by wind-blown seeds and a deep taproot. So my best method would be removing the weed before it goes to seed by using hand pulling when the soil is moist so I have a better chance of getting the whole taproot. Bindweed, on the other hand, needs to be treated completely differently.

So, first identify the most prominent weed you will be battling to determine which of the below methods to implement.

Remember though, the #1 method for any weed is to cut it or remove it before it goes to seed!

12 Ways to Control Weeds Organically

Hint- my favorite is #12!

Way #1- Topping

Way #1 is also rule #1, topping. Topping a weed is when you either, weed-eat or cut down a weed (not necessarily pull it) before they have a chance to ripen and drop their seeds.

Way #2- Plant Spacing

Weeds are a nuisance in the garden because they steal nutrients and they crowd out the vegetables that we want to grow. By placing our vegetables closer together we, in fact, change the roles of the weeds. Our vegetables now will crowd out the weeds by robbing them of nutrients and light and space.

God said the world would be covered with vegetation. So, when we leave bears places between our plants those bare spaces will fill in with weeds.

On the back of your seed packet it gives a proper distance for your spacing, but one thing you need to remember is that spacing is for rows not beds. When you plant in beds (I personally plant in 30 inch wide beds) spacings can go more off of radius instead of distance. For example, if I'm supposed to put pepper's a foot apart in rows in a bed system that means I can put them 6” apart and still maintain that 12 inch spacing in radius.

Another example would be tomatoes needing to be within 18 to 24 inch spacing. For me, that means I would place one row in the center of my 30-inch bed, but along the sides I have room for something else. You can easily plant a short season crop like lettuce or marigold. By the time the tomato has reached its full maturity the other crop will have been removed.

Way #3- No-Till or Reduced Till

For years in my garden I have used the method of tilling every Spring.

The problem with this method is: 1. as an organic gardener I'm destroying the structure of my soil, 2. weeds like bindweed thrive and spread faster, and 3. I am pulling up new seeds from the seed bank under the soil every single year.

Like I said before God destined for the world to be covered. So, deep down in your soil, about 6 inches to 3 feet down, there is a seed bank and every time you till you bring up more seeds. They get to see the sunlight and grow to mature plants that produce even more seeds. It is a continual cycle!

Over the past three years I have switched over to no-till. I have made beds, so now I am only needing to rake the top 2” of each bed to mix in compost and amendments.

I'm not doing the deep tilling that I used to do every single year.

When you first begin a garden you are going to need to till so that you can add air to your soil. Now, I only till when I need to turn under a cover crop I am using as a green manure.

Way #4- Fertile Soil

By improving your soil fertility, you can eliminate lots of weeds that prefer low fertile soil.

Weed identification is the secret to this method. I have found that some types of weeds such as whitetop, bindweed, and many others only grow in certain soil conditions. Those soil conditions are usually low fertile soil. By improving the fertility of your soil you're making conditions these weeds don't like to grow in; so they won't.

Way #5 -Precise Watering

I currently can't use precise watering. I have tried for years and years to implement soaker hoses and drip lines and my well water usually clogs them up.

I have to use overhead sprinkling which waters everything, even the weeds.

Soaker hose and/or a drip line water system centralize your water only on the veggies. This lessens the chance of your weeds getting the amount of water they need and therefore reduces your weeds.

Overhead sprinklers are a new gardener's easiest and cheapest option. However, In your budget and 3-year plan you should eventually transition to either soaker hose or drip irrigation. This option is more water efficient, low-maintenance, and can be set up to timers more easily than sprinkles.

Way # 6 -Cover Crops

Cover crops can be used in the off-season or as an inter-planting with your veggies to help reduce weeds. Cover crops will cover the soil with plants you chose that can be beneficial to your soil health or added to your compost pile as green manures.

For an inter-planting example, when I plant my squash or my pumpkin I under sow them with clover and field peas. Clover is a great green manure and peas fix nitrogen in the soil. Pumpkins usually spread out and make their own natural mulching and smother out my clove and peas. This is fine because the point is that instead of weed that robs my soil of nutrients I plant something that benefited my soil instead.

Cover crops in the off-season can be used to suppress weeds when you are not using that bed. There are several types of cover crops, like rye grass, that actually send out hormones from its roots that don't let any other seeds germinate. Usually this hormone only lasts as long as that crop is in the ground. But, if you do use this method it is best to follow up this type of cover crop with a transplant in the next season.

Way # 7 - Crop Rotation

Crop rotation helps in many different ways, but with weeds it helps you implement different weed controlling methods in different beds. For example, if I put in broccoli that is 18 in. apart I have plenty of space to get in there with a hoe and weed more aggressively. But, if I have put in carrots that are planted close together and are a little harder to weed, then I can’t weed as aggressively.

By rotating these crops I also rotate my aggressiveness of weeding also. That probably sounds clear as mud. But, what I am trying to say is when you rotate your crops you are also rotating your different weeding methods to other beds and in result getting a more evenly weeded garden.

Way #8- Flame Weeding

Flame weeding is using a torch to burn and dry up small weed seedlings. For example, carrots usually take 7 to 21 days to germinate. While your carrots are germinating, weeds are going to sprout ahead of your carrots, but you can't really do anything but hand weed! OR you can use flame-weeding to burn up these seedlings and the carrot seeds will be unharmed under the soil. You will need to do this every 7 days until you see your first carrots emerging. This will save your tons of time and maybe even your back and knees!

Way # 9 -Mulching

Because I rotate my vegetables in my garden, I struggle with using mulch in my beds. But, mulch is a great solution for paths. Especially in between raised beds because you can lay down a good weed barrier and cover with your choice of mulch.

Mulch works especially well in the paths if you use overhead sprinklers because then the paths get as much water as the beds; so they usually have the same amount of weeds as the beds.

I currently use my bedding from our baby chicks we raise every Spring and mulch my potatoes with straw. When it comes to mulch you want to make sure that it's weed free! T

he last thing you want to do is buy a mulch to control weeds and then your new mulch is full of more weed seeds. Mulch also works great in flower beds and around trees.

Way #10 -Boiling Water

Boiling water is a more concentrated solution for taking out a weed. Remember that it will take out any plant that it is poured on. One weed that I use this method on is tobacco weed. It has a deep tap root that goes down 3’ to 4’. Boiling water is not only shocking the plant but it’s deep root as well.

Here is how to use the boiling water method: Get a pot with really sturdy handles and fill it with water. Place it on the stove and bring the water to boil. Carry the pot of water out to the weed you want to kill. Make sure you wear gloves and your kids and pets are out of the way. Then take that boiling water and pour it directly on the base of the plant. The heat of the water will shock the plant and kill it. If it doesn't, you may have to repeat this method several times.

Way #11- Corn Gluten Meal

Corn gluten meal is used to suppress germination. I personally do not need to use this method. But, it can be used in flower beds and places that you want to stop germination of seeds. Remember this will stop the germination of all seeds so if you have flowers that spread by seed this will also stop them from germinating as well.

Way #12- Tarping AKA Solarization

This method has become my favorite method out of all of the above methods.

The method of tarping is used by laying down a thick silage type tarp that will not let any light in (preferably black) on top of an area before you plant your vegetables for 3 to 4 weeks.

I use this method to control one of the most aggressive weeds known to man, Bindweed. It has been known to live under a house for 14 years in complete darkness. Bindweed roots go down four to five feet and spread by root and seeds. Any tiny little piece of root that is bigger than 2 in. long can multiply into more weeds. Tilling is the worst thing you can do when you have this weed in the garden. My solution is to use tarps to weaken that root bank underneath the soil.

What I mean by that is I lay the tarp down in early spring, the bindweed comes up, but it doesn't get the sunlight it needs to thrive. Then, once the temperatures start to warm up the heat under the tarp actually cooks the plants to death!!

This is called solarization.

It will also kill any seeds in the first 2 inches. I have implemented this system now for two consecutive years on two of my beds. I am still competing a little bit with a bindweed but it is nothing like it was before. I think if I continue this method of solarizion I'm going to get a handle on my bindweed!

I have noticed another weed that also spreads by seed and roots, Whitetop, has been completely eliminated by this method.

Those are my 12 organic ways to control weeds, but remember no matter what method you pick you need to match that method with the most prominent weed you are battling. Weed identification is your first step in any weed control and the next should be topping. It is a very easy solution of simply cutting down that weed over and over and over again before it goes to seed.

And as always not let the world hold you back,

Pray, Just Plant


Intro 00:36

Taking My Weed Problem Seriously 00:56

What is a Weed 02:04

Tips and Tricks 08:42

My Least Favorite Weed 13:12

Finding Their Weakness 16:36

Organic Herbicides are Not the Answer 17:47

Way 1-6 18:48

Growing With God 29:10

Way 7- 12 32:27

My Favorite Method 37:22

Recap 39:10

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