Vegetable Garden Weed Control

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by Stoner, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. Stoner

    Stoner Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida
    In a little over a month I will start planting my garden (between March 15-30). Last year I had a severe problem with weeds taking over the garden. I planted quite a bit of sweet corn; that did well in spite of the weeds. I will be planting the garden where I currently have my green field. Where I am planting the sweet corn should I kill the green field with an herbicide and till under or kill the green field and plant the seed without tilling the field? Or would you till the ground wait for the weeds to come up and than spray with an herbicide and than plant the sweet corn? I just want to know the best way to plant sweet corn.
    I planted watermelon and cantaloupes last year and they started out great but the weeds overcame the garden and did not get any watermelon. This year I plan on using a fabric or poly plastic with soaker hoses running under the ground cover to control the weeds. I think that will solve that problem. It will be a little more labor intensive to use the ground cover but I think the effort will pay off in the end. Do you all have any thoughts or experience on using ground cover (fabric/poly) in a vegetable garden?
     
  2. jimweed

    jimweed Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Aldergrove
    Round Up the field, till over in 2 weeks, plant Corn, apply Atrazine when corn is 4 inches. Now that is one method used by many Corn growers in my area. I do not want to get to involved in promoting spraying on this forum, but since you asked that is a common program. http://www.growercentral.com/ . That website will give you some labels to refer to. I believe Atrazine may be used on Watermelon too. Jim S.
     
  3. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,625
    Likes Received:
    95
    Location:
    Brantford,Ontario, Canada
    Weed control is best performed by the hoe, or hand pulling, or mechanical tilling. A few minutes each day removing by hand or hoe or in some cases a small rototiller should keep weeds under control. This is probably a daily effort, since some weeds grow quickly.

    Sometimes I use a wood chip mulch, which controls weeds due to absence of light, plus the cover tends to retain moisture. The wood chips deterioate in about a year and can be worked into the soil to keep it friable.

    The down side of landscape material is the soil cannot be loosed periodically, since often the ground gets packed too much, and air and water cannot get to the roots of the plants.

    To prevent packing I use a board to walk on between the rows, and even then the soil sometimes gets packed, but it helps a bit.

    Good Fall season tilling and planting a cover crop of red annual clover tends to reduce weeds by crowding them out, and fixes nitrogen into the soil, and encourages earth worms. Often I plant the clover after a good tilling, when the area become free. This clover is tilled under in the Spring.

    All said and done weed control takes constant physical effort for a good chemical free vegetable garden, which is probably the aim.

    Then, of course, after the weeds are under control the bug problem needs addressing.
     
  4. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

    Messages:
    826
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Pensacola, USA
    Like Durgan I tend to use the hoe to control weeds. I use the dust mulch method and it works well. I try to maintain a thin loose layer of dirt by just barely scratching the surface with the hoe and I do that as soon as the ground is workable after it rains. This keeps the weeds from sprouting and retains moisture in the ground below. I rake some of the loose dirt up against the garden plants in the row to cover any weeds that are growing between plants.

    If you do it a day or so after each rain, you will not need to tend it much in between.

    Skeet
     
  5. AlexH

    AlexH Active Member

    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Port Moody, BC, Canada
    Depending on the size of your garden, I've found that a mulch with shredded leaves from last fall, plus grass clipping during the summer is very effective for keeping the weeds away. But I'm working with a small space so it may not scale up for you. A local tree chipping company is always looking for places to dump their wood chips, they say a load from their chippers is about 3-4 pickup truck beds full. It might work if you have a larger space.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,667
    Likes Received:
    547
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    In a hot climate mulching a la Ruth Stout should help quite a bit. Main problem there might be mulch decomposing quickly and having to be replaced frequently (this was my grandmother's argument against mulching her Honolulu garden) but to my way of thinking that just indicate all the more need to mulch.

    Here it is often desired to maximize warming of the soil in vegetable plots so these would not usually be mulched.

    I wouldn't till repeatedly as this pulverizes the soil into a flour-like consistency.
     
  7. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

    Messages:
    826
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Pensacola, USA
    I have tried using mulch to control weeds, but down here there always seems to be a few weeds that make it through the mulch--then with the mulch in place you can't use a hoe and have to pull them up by hand.

    The dust mulch system works best for me, it also conserves moisture by breaking the capillary action established after each rain, and the layer of loose dirt also insulates the ground below. When I hoe to create a dust mulch, I don't pulverize the soil, I simple scrape loose a thin layer on the top of the ground (about 1/4 inch deep).

    I do like to add organic matter to my garden when I till it in the spring and fall.

    Skeet
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,667
    Likes Received:
    547
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Mulched soil should be softer, enabling weeds to pull out easily. Few methods are 100% effective and without effort. Even hoeing can result in some weeds being buried and surviving, plus there is all that work - and dust.

    Planting in blocks of closely spaced vegetables etc. instead of narrow rows should also cut down on weeding.
     
  9. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,625
    Likes Received:
    95
    Location:
    Brantford,Ontario, Canada
    I tried the block system one year. It was not as satisfactory as row planting. Carrots aren't bad in blocks, but other vegetables are a misery for weeding, and loosening the soil. Also, when pulling root crops the other surrounding plants often get disturbed more than row planting. Block planting does have some merit if the space is rather limited, but if sufficient space is available I prefer row planting. I must admit the cute little drawings in garden books look attractive, but not too practical.

    Weeding does take a little work, but that is the price of gardening. My rows are rather closer than the recommended normal, but I space the plants in the row rather carefully to allow suffficient space for growing properly. I like to have almost a canopy of vegetation sort of shielding the rows, when the plants get large. This is possible in a home garden, since fast efficient picking is not the main criteria, as opposed to commercial growing.

    This year 2008 I am going to go heavy on the wood chip mulch on some plants, since the small chips are readily available from the city, and I can carry about half a yard each trip. During a hot summer, the top soil evaporation is my main concern.
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,667
    Likes Received:
    547
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Your description of your rows sounds like they had the characteristics of blocks. And maybe the way you did your blocks wasn't they same way as the times others have done them and gotten them to work.
     
  11. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

    Messages:
    826
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Pensacola, USA
    I do not know of any methods that are 100% effective or without effort. Like Durgan, I prefer the rows, but as far as work-- I think the hoe is the easier way to go--you can do it standing up--not bending over to pull weeds. If you hoe the day after a rain as I mentioned, it is not dusty--the soil is still soft and workable. If you cut a thin layer of dirt off the top (about 1/4 inch) there won't be many if any weeds survive (the weeds that do survive are the ones in between the plants in the row especially if the plants are too close to get a hoe between-- those you have to pull-- unless you can bury them with soil you pull up to your plants when you hoe).

    As for conserving moisture--there may be some types of mulch that work better than a dust mulch, but it is also better than some types of mulch--if the mulch has too much contact with the soil and can carry that moisture to the surface, it will result in more moisture loss through capillary action than a dust mulch.

    There is a lot of difference in the types of soil and the kinds of weeds we have to deal with, different methods work better in some areas than others. I have only gardened here and in NC (for about 50 years total) and I have tried several methods--but I am back to using the hoe.

    Skeet
     

Share This Page