Winning the war on weeds

chickweedNovember is the weedy season. The combination of warming soils and spring rain make it so. I know it’s a soul destroying job with the same repetitive, recurring vibe housework has. But (unlike housework) weeding is really important. Weeds will nick off with the fertility and moisture you’ve so carefully crafted to feed and nourish your vegetables, they’ll block light and airflow too.

Good weeds and Bad weeds

There are (like in every good story) good weeds and bad weeds; and the list on either side differs for all of us. My good weed guild consists of chickweed, dandelion, yarrow, plantain, nettle – weeds that are mineral rich and useful in meals, medicine and the compost. They require no cultivation and when they get a bit rambunctious in a particular spot they’re easily removed and added to the compost. Yes, these kinds of weeds are our friends.

Convolvulus, buttercup, dock, kikuyu – these weeds are not so friendly when it comes to the veggie patch. Over time as you build and improve your soils the new free draining, mineral rich environment wont delight these weeds in the same way it used to. Combine this with diligent removal as soon as any of these weeds pop their heads up, and you’re on a winning streak! It may take a few years, but once you prove your commitment said bad weed will eventually exit with grace. What a noble goal – a vegie patch with no undesirables in it! At no other time in your life will you be able to do this – remove all the things you despise, keeping only the things you love. Go on, make yourself a haven.

Don’t spray, smother!

Getting rid of the problem weed before creating your vegie garden is the smart option. Not with spray please. This is a false shortcut, because you’ll now have toxins in your soil ergo in your vegies. You’ll also have the long road of rebuilding your soil microbiology and beneficial insect population.

Smothering the area in carpet works a treat. Lay the carpet now and leave until autumn rains begin again. Roll it up with all the weed attached to it and have an autumn harvest bonfire. The soft soil beneath makes it easy to remove any remnants of root. Build a massive compost pile atop and bring on the spring planting!

Smart Design

Make one weedy edge around the outside by mulching your paths and keeping all your beds either planted or mulched – the strategy here is to not let those weeds get a foot in the door. Remove them while small (the easy way) by taking that hoe in hand; no bending, kneeling or tugging required. A stitch in time, saves nine–my friends.