9 SIMPLE Ways to get RID of weeds in Vegetable Garden Naturally!

Weeds refer to the naturally growing unwanted plants in your vegetable garden. Like any other cover crop, weeds are also beneficial to the environment. They prevent soil erosion, encourage ambient soil microorganism activities, provide humus when they die, break soil compactions, and aerates the soil.

Besides all these positive contributions, weeds often choke vegetable gardens. Their potential to grow faster increases competition for space and important nutrients, causing a general reduction in crop yield. Controlling weeds requires some bit of knowledge on weed ecology [1] coupled with a little effort, which can be challenging at first. We know that most first-time organic gardeners are always on the lookout for ways on how to get rid of weeds in vegetable gardens naturally.

Well, this article will give you a quick highlight of some of the most effective natural weed control methods for you to use in your vegetable garden today.

Mulch

Mulching refers to the layering of protective materials on top of your vegetable garden soil. This protective layer results in delayed soil warming that slows down the growth of weeds but provides more nutrients for your vegetables.

Research [2] explains that organic mulch hinders weeds from germinating and prevents the emergence of sprouting weeds. Therefore, mulching ensures that your vegetables don’t get unnecessary competition for important resources, and improves overall crop yield naturally.

White vinegar

Apart from salad dressing and cleaning, white vinegar can also kill weeds. Interestingly, this multipurpose solution contains a weed-killing agent[3] called acetic acid .

Unlike the many herbicides out there, this weed-toxic agent does not affect the environment.
However, you will need to be careful when applying it. For best results, simply spray your white vinegar directly on the weed plant just when they are nearly spawning. Killing them at this stage deters seed formation and breaks its generational succession. Be careful not to spray your vegetables, as they will not select and spare.

Boiling water

As dangerous as it always sounds, hot water is another great non-chemical weed management method [4]. Simply bring the water in your kettle to boil then pour it on the unwanted plants in your vegetable garden. As morbid as it might seem, hot water essentially burns the weeds down and destroys their spawns.

However, you should take care and watch out for your vegetables, as this method is highly non-selective, and might harm your crops too.

Salt water

Research [5] touts the use of saltwater as an excellent sustainable weed control measure. This saline solution largely dehydrates the weed and the surrounding soil. This restricts water uptake and thereafter chokes the unwanted plants to death.

As another non-selective yet natural way to control weeds, you might want to apply your salt-water solution in areas where there are no vegetables and to areas along the perimeter of your vegetable garden.

Corn meal

Also known as corn gluten meal, cornmeal is a research-proven non-chemical weed control alternative [6] especially for pre-emergent weeds. This means that a quick spread of cornmeal on your vegetable garden will inhibit the sprouting of weed seeds.

Note that this method only works on seeds and is less effective on growing plants. Apart from helping you control the emergence of weed species, cornmeal guarantees the continuous provision of nitrogen to the soil.

Dig and hoe

Digging and hoeing are some of the oldest ways to get rid of weeds naturally. It is one of the most efficient weed control methods especially for getting rid of recurring weeds. The continual growth of weeds in your garden means that their roots have become more persistent.

To get rid of such annoying plants, you’ll need to dig them out. Hoe is the most common digging tool for this purpose but you can also use a spade or farm fork. During digging, avoid using too much pressure or you might uproot your vegetables in the process.

Weed barrier

Putting down a weed barrier is one of the best ways to hinder the growth of weeds. The two most common types of weed barriers used today include newspapers and cardboards. Once in place, weed barriers usually cut down the supply of water and light [7], making it very hard for weeds to grow.

Before you start layering your weed barriers, make sure that you have prepared your garden bed well, mixed the soil with organic compost, and properly placed the soaker hose.

Mulch is a form of natural weed barrier. Other weed barrier types include fabric and plastic options.

Using Your Hand

As old-fashioned, as it may seem, pulling weeds with your hands, is one of the most successful ways to get rid of weeds from any vegetable garden naturally. This non-chemical method only requires keen attention so that you don’t disturb the soil too much, and a pair of gardening gloves to prevent unintentional weed dispersal. Unlike the other methods that generally suppress weed growth, the by-hand method offers a long-term solution for your vegetable garden.

Practice cover cropping

Cover cropping is a scientifically proven weed control method [8] that effectively suppresses its development and improves vegetable yield. Therefore, consider planting cover crops (plants not for harvesting) the next time you want to get rid of weeds in your garden. This will help protect the topsoil from erosion and can act as mulch when you’re ready to grow vegetables again.

Some common examples of cover crops include millet and buckwheat for hot seasons and crimson clover during cold conditions.

Summary

The occurrence of weeds in your vegetable garden isn’t uncommon. Weeds aren’t picky and they happen to grow alongside other cultivated plants. As natural as it may seem, many often rush to use chemical herbicides to control their growth but end up hurting the environment. To avoid harming the soil or your precious vegetables, use any of the discussed methods to get rid of weeds in your vegetable garden naturally.

Citations

  1. https://eorganic.org/node/2314
  2. https://eorganic.org/node/4871
  3. https://www.thespruce.com/vinegar-as-a-natural-weed-killer-2132943
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/296011430_Effect_of_hot_water_on_weeds
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289202827_Use_of_saline_water_for_weed_control_in_seashore_Paspalum_Paspalum_vaginatum
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237728065_Chapter_35_The_Use_of_Corn_Gluten_Meal_As_A_Natural_Preemergence_Weed_Control_in_Turf
  7. https://www.permaculturenews.org/2017/04/19/weed-barriers-can-improve-quality-garden/
  8. https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.2134/agronj2017.12.0752
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