How to Reduce Your Weeds without using Herbicides | 5 easy steps to minimize weeding

When I first started my podcast I thought Organic Gardening was basically growing a garden without using chemical pesticides and herbicides. But since I’ve had my show I realize that it is so very much more than that!

As a matter of fact the whole first lesson in is all about building healthy soil because that my friends is without a doubt the biggest key to Organic Gardening!

So what does that have to do with reducing your weeds?

If you aren’t using weed killer aren’t the weeds going to grow like crazy? Plain and simple no.

The definition of a weed:

a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.

Weeds, real weeds tend to grow where the environment is less then ideal. Or a better way to look at it is

Healthy plants grow where a healthy environment thrives.

And a healthy environment begins with the soil. But it also includes lots of fresh air, sunshine and plenty of water. It includes flowers full of pollen and nectar that insects and butterflies and bees can use and seeds and worms and bugs that birds can eat.

1. Create a healthy environment

Having a healthy environment is the best way to get what you want to grow in the spots you want them to grow.

I know without a doubt, the places where we get the most spotted knapweed which is the biggest invasive weed in Montana are the places that have the poorest soil and don’t get much water in the hot August summer. The places on the lawn where we water regularly, the soil gets compost or manure spread on it the lawn thrives.

2. Mulch

In Mike’s mini-farm he gets his share of weeds but he also manages to keep weeding to a minimum by weeding at just the right time, after the seedlings have germinated, being thorough and getting all weeds removed and then mulching in between rows.

3. An ounce of prevention

He’s also very particular about getting as many weeds out of his beds before he plants his first seed. This meticulous sifting of the soil saves him hours of labor weeding later in the season. And he keeps on top of them too, not letting any one area get out of control.

4. Focus on the roots

Before we had running water and a well, we had to haul all of our water from off the property. That meant if you were watering a plant you weren’t going to spill a drop of water and you were really going to focus all that water on the roots of the plant you were growing. It seems to surprise people all the time but if you don’t water the ground around you plants hardly any weeds will grow. The trade-off is it is a lot more time consuming, but generally, I’ll take watering over weeding.

5. Get the right tool

I am almost 100% positive the most recommended tool on my show is a sharp hoe.

claw Hoe aka cultivator hoe garden tool

Mike’s favorite is his cultivator hoe which we just call the claw hoe. He weeds the entire mini farm with that!

6. Slow down

When you get the seeds out in the spring and start planting everything in sight. I know how easy it is to get excited by seeds in the catalog or starts at the store. Make sure you know how much time you are going to have to weed when the seeds germinate and are growing strong. I even made a chart you can use to think about how much time your really have to weed this summer.

7. Be strategic!

I find one thing my listeners say a lot is that time prevents them from enjoying the organic oasis of their dreams. Following a lot of bio-intensive planting techniques where you grow more food in a smaller space reduces the room for the weeds to grow.

I hope this gives you some options to keep your weeding down and to a minimum.

One thought on “How to Reduce Your Weeds without using Herbicides | 5 easy steps to minimize weeding

  1. Even without bio-intensive techniques, cover crops occupy space that weeds might otherwise occupy. I sometimes prefer aggressive landscape plants, like common freeway iceplant. It is easy to get rid of when I want the space for something useful. At home, where I want natives grasses to dominate, I just pull the flowering tops from the grasses and weeds that I don’t want. They are weeds for the year, but do not regenerate so aggressively next time around


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