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Organic Weed Control

I have several areas in my garden where the soil is light and fluffy and the weeds that come are easy to pull.  I try and spend a few minutes each day pulling or hoeing.  It makes the task less daunting.

Mulching helps with weed control.   A layer of leaves, compost, or aged manure will shade the weed seeds so they will not sprout.  To control really tough weeds, a layer of newspaper under the mulch adds more control.     Mulching has a downside.  If you are in a heavily slug or snail infested area, it provides excellent habitat for those critters.  My slug control page is here.

There are organic weed control products on the market.  I have had luck with a product called Burnout II, but only with weeds that very delicate and easy to hoe or pull anyway.  It did not do a great job on our quack grass. This product, and others like it, contain clove oil as the main ingredient.  Corn Gluten Meal is another weed control product, but it must be applied before the weeds emerge.

Vinegar is another product that can be used.  For weed control, the 20% vinegar is recommended, which is much stronger than household vinegar at 5%.  Experiment with diluting the product a bit to make it more cost effective. University studies say that 10-20% vinegar is effective, but it is only effective on foliage; it doesn’t kill roots.  So perennial weeds may return.  Click here for a source for this 20% vinegar.  For vinegar, you’ll need a sprayer.

Another method I highly recommend is a flame weeder.  This is a wand that has propane attached to it.  A small flame comes out.  Weeds are touched for only a second or two until they start to wilt.  That’s enough to kill the weed.  Here’s one that is very inexpensive, and has many very positive reviews.

Clear plastic is another tool for your weed arsenal.  Lay down the plastic in early spring over the area.  Let the weed seeds germinate in the warmth under the plastic.  Then remove the plastic and hoe the weeds.  Then you can plant in an area where many of the weeds have already been taken care of.

Or, if you’re like me, having a few weeds in your garden may be just okay.