The dirt is my weed killer

Corn & GrassI use the dirt itself to kill weeds. Look at the picture on the left and you will see a row of sweet corn with small grass growing in among the corn plants. I have run the tiller between the rows and loosened the soil and chopped up the weeds and grass growing there. So I go down the rows with a hoe and pull the dirt in around the corn plants to cover the small weeds growing there. It works pretty well. The broadleaf weeds and grass have to be fairly small and the corn has to be a few inches high. But you can hill the soil up around the corn. it likes the whole process.

I started doing this a long time ago after driving a cultivating field corn with a tractor. At the time I think I did 6 rows at a time. You go rather slowly with a cultivator behind the tractor that is a series of small shovels. They are spaced on a bar to work the soil between the rows right up to the plants. They also move the soil into and around the corn plants as you go along on the tractor. You adjust your speed and depth of the cultivator to make sure you do not bury the corn. Also you have to pay close attention to make sure the cultivator does not just dig out the corn as you go along so it is an arduous job to do all day long. Farmers don’t do any cultivating now. At least the ones around here don’t. They rely entirely on chemicals to kill weeds. But, that is a whole other story and I do not want to get started on that.

This method of cultivation will work with green beans, okra, onions, or anything big enough to have some dirt piled up around it. It does not work well for young carrots because they are too small. I usually crawl along on the ground and pick the weeds out of those.

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7 Ways to Control Weeds Without Chemicals

Weeds are frustrating to have and are sometimes even more frustrating to prevent. And though chemicals could sometimes seem like a great option in killing those pests once and for all, it may not be the most environmentally or safest option. Also, chemicals can be far more expensive than other safer methods (and some chemicals aren’t even as effective as non-chemical solutions). Therefore, the following are a few easy and effective methods in controlling and killing weeds.

1. Maintain your Soil

A healthy garden is a well protected garden, and this is especially true when it comes to deterring weeds from invading your backyard. A major factor in a healthy garden is obviously the soil quality, whether or not there are enough nutrients in them, whether or not the soil is able to retain enough water for plant use but not so much that the soil becomes overly moist. Though weeds can grow in practically any soil condition, regardless if the soil is filled with nutrients or not, ensuring that your soil is well maintained can ensure that the plants you do want surviving are able to grow and hopefully push out or even prevent weeds from growing in the first place. However, do keep in mind that over fertilizing your soil can be a huge invitation for weeds to come in, so use fertilizer sparingly and only when needed to help your pre-existing plants grow strong.

2. Use Mulch and Fabric

Like any other plant, weeds require sunlight to thrive, but if you’re able to make this precious resource less accessible, weeds will ultimately start dying off. If you do see a patch of soil that has an abundance of weeds, putting down some mulch can effectively prevent sunlight from reaching them. However, before buying mulch, ensure that there are no weed seeds present, as this can just lead to a re-emergence of weeds pretty quickly.

Cover Fabrics, much like mulch, is placed over weeds to smother them and prevent sunlight from penetrating down. Depending on the material used, the soil also can still have access to water and air to keep it healthy.

3. Limit Available Space

Weeds love to grow anywhere that has appropriate space. Therefore, growing thick lawns and numerous plants can help crowd out weeds from growing. Using appropriate amounts of fertilizer can also help in maintaining thick, lush lawns.

4. Use Flames or High Temperatures

Flame guns are extremely effective in scorching weeds that may be growing into between pavement or slabs or bricks. Though it does use propane gas, scorching can quickly destroy the weed and any seeds that may be found on ground level.

Also, if you intend on using destroyed weeds for compost, it is important to make sure that there are no live seeds mixed in with the weeds. To safely use dead weeds as compost, heating them up in a crock-pot or other heatable container can safely destroy any live seeds, allowing you to use the weeds for compost or even fertilizer.

5. Use Plastic Sheeting

Much like mulch and fabric, plastic sheeting can effectively prevent sunlight from reaching the weeds, as well as preventing water from seeping down to the root structures. However, one disadvantage of using plastic sheeting is that a few chemicals may end up seeping out of the plastic and into the soil, so only use this if absolutely needed. But if you’re trying to be truly chemical free, avoiding plastic sheeting may be best.

6. Hoeing and Tilling

Smaller weeds that are truly relegated to the top layers of soil can be easily dislodged and taken care of with gentle strokes. However, attempting to hoe into the deeper levels of soil may only cause more problems than you originally intended. Seeds that are dormant normally reside in the deeper levels of soil, and hoeing these parts may only bring them up to the surface, causing more weeds to grow.
Much like hoeing, tilling is also able to manage small weed populations but should be done so with extreme care. In an attempt to push seeds further into the soil, tilling may cycle dormant seeds up to the surface, making your efforts a frustrating time waster. Regardless if you attempt to hoe or till your soil, do so carefully so as to not bring out dormant seeds.

7. Vinegar

Vinegar is great in drying out weeds if applied over the course of two weeks. Mixing a bit with dish soap and using a spray bottle to apply the mixture onto weeds is extremely effective, regardless of how hot it is outside. However, make sure to not accidentally spray the solution onto plants that you want, as it can potentially kill any plant that it comes in contact with.

Killing Specific Weeds

If you want to kill weeds, you have to do a bit of research to figure out what conditions are favorable for weed growth. For example, a common and extremely frustrating weed to have in one’s garden is the Creeping Charlie. Unlike most weeds, the creeping charlie preferentially grows in areas of shade and extremely moist soils. Therefore, to prevent such a weed, getting rid of shady areas is a must and having a good way to re-direct excess rainwater away from your garden is also a good idea.

Final Thoughts

Getting rid of weeds can certainly be a headache, so much so that it may often seem like a good idea to just use a few chemicals to get rid of the problem. However, these chemicals could permanently damage your soil. Luckily, there are many natural, non-chemical methods in safely and quickly removing weeds. Also, if you have a specific weed problem, do a bit of research to understand what conditions the weeds prefer to grow in. Having some knowledge before tackling weeds will definitely save a lot of time and energy in the long run.

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