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Vermont Garden Journal: Organic Weed Control

Lee Reich
Many weeds, like this redroot pigweed, are great-tasting edibles. But for the weeds you don't want, there are organic techniques for removal.

It's been a great growing season so far with the right amounts of sun, warmth and rain. But flowers, fruits and veggies aren't the only things growing well. Weeds can take over this time of year turning a well-planned out garden into a jungle. Weeds can fill in any veggie or flower garden quickly when given a chance, but remember they're just plants growing in the wrong place.

The first order of business is to know your weeds. Many, such as lamb's quarters, purslane and pigweed, are great-tasting edibles that I actually encourage in our garden. And you probably already know how I feel about dandelions! There are even cultivated varieties of all of these weeds that you can intentionally grow. Who'd a thunk it!

But for the weeds you don't want, here are some organic strategies. Cultivate early and often to kill germinating weed seeds between flowers and vegetables. I like using a scuffle hoe to chop weeds off just below the soil line. Don't turn the soil deeply bringing more weed seeds to the soil surface to germinate. Mulch heavily with burlap bags, newspaper, cardboard, or straw. If you use hay, remember you might be introducing more weed seeds into the garden.

For hard-to-kill weeds such as goutweed, horsetail and quack grass, you need to be tougher and more persistent than the weed. After a rain, pull weeds getting as much of the root system as possible. Mow them down continually to exhaust the roots and consider covering an area with plastic mulch to weaken them. For weeds in a walkway or driveway, spray acetic acid. It's more acidic than vinegar, works well on many weeds such as plantain and ground ivy, but may take repeated applications to be effective.

And now for this week's tip, side dress vining vegetables such as cucumber and pumpkins now with compost or an organic 5-5-5 fertilizer. This will stimulate strong growth going into late summer so you can get more fruits.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about fall peas. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Broadcast on Friday, July 18, 2014 at 5:57 p.m and Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 9:35 a.m. 

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and

Organic Weed Control Weed Control the Organic Way

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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