Weeds. The enemy of gardeners the world around! They are responsible for choking the life from vegetable and flower gardens, while stealing life-giving nutrients away from our plants.
Weeds are also the reason many gardeners throw their hands up by mid-summer and call it a year.
It simply doesn't have to be that way. In fact, some of the most time-consuming chores we have been led to believe help with gardening and weeds - are actually the main culprit to creating more! Simply by eliminating those weed promoting practices, and replacing with a few time and labor saving methods - you can all but eliminate the issue of weeds in your garden.
We spend no more than 10 minutes a day handling all of the chores in our garden - including weeding - and that's not a misprint! The first step is realizing that eliminating weeds in a garden is a process and not a one time thing. But don't let that scare you - the process is simple and leads to a productive and beautiful garden in a fraction of the time.
Here are six ways we keep our garden weed free - and fun to be and work in!
TIP 1: Eliminate Bare Soil From Your Garden And Beds
Bare soil is at the root of most weed problems. Bare soil is an open invitation for blowing weed seeds to become established. By using mulches and protecting the soil, you can cut the potential for future weeds dramatically! We use a combination of mulches in our garden space to keep it covered. Straw and shredded leaf mulch in the walking rows, and a 2 to 3 inch mulching of compost right around our plants.
Just remember - open space is an open invitation for weeds and soil erosion
TIP 2: Resist the Urge to Dig and Till Your Soil:
This is the biggest time-saving AND weed saving tip we can give. Stop tilling the garden! In the time it takes a person to till between the rows of a garden the same size as ours, we have finished our 10 minute gardening work day, grilled out for dinner and are sitting on the patio enjoying a cool beverage! And while working that extra time tilling - that person also just replanted tens of thousands of weed seeds that will germinate in the coming weeks.
Tilling simply takes all of the weed seeds that are laying on the surface, where they may never germinate, and plants them into the soil. Tilling over time also can destroy your soil's structure, but when it comes to weeds - it's a prime reason gardeners have to spend so much time trying to eliminate them. It takes time, gas, and is a never-ending chore. Instead - heavily mulch your rows with grass clippings, straw, or shredded leaves - they keep weeds to a minimum and help add vital nutrients to the soil as they break down.
We believe in this one so much we actually have an entire post dedicated to it: Why Not To Use A Rototiller.
TIP 3: Don't Over Hoe Your Row
Here's another long time garden chore that used to take hours in the garden - and should take only minutes. Using a hoe to loosen the surface soil around the base and root zone of your plant is a great weekly practice. It provides air to the plant's base and allows nutrients and water to more easily reach the root structure. But that is the extent of what is needed - just a 3 to 5" light hoeing of the perimeter soil around the base of each plant. Leave all of the other space in your planting rows alone and simply mulch it! Over-hoeing creates the same issue as tilling - planting above ground weeds seeds back into the earth. All you need is a light hoeing immediately around the plants - it saves tons of time and labor, and eliminates replanting weed seeds.
TIP 4 : Start Practicing The Art Of Cover Crops:
Start cover cropping this fall. Cover crops really help eliminate weeds over time by protecting your bare soil over the late fall, winter and early spring months. They have obvious benefits to helping your soils vitality, but they also help to form a barrier for blowing seeds to enter and lay in wait. After a season or two of cover crops - you will be amazed how little weeds actually even appear in your garden. You can find more about cover crops here : Cover Crops In Your Garden.
Tip 5 : Keeping The Weeds Out Of Walking Rows:
Keeping weeds out of the walking rows between your plants is just as important to the health of your garden as it is the look. The answer - Mulch - Mulch and more Mulch! We use whatever we have on hand. Straw and shredded leaves work great to create a thick 3 to 5" covering between our planting rows. From time to time a few weeds will start to pop up - and we simply pull them on our daily trips through the garden. If they become thicker - we simply take the weed eater through the garden and mow them down to the grown and reapply a few more inches of mulch. It immediately looks great again and stays that way for weeks. It's so much quicker and better than tilling up that soil between your rows!
TIP 6: Practice The 10 Minute-A-Day Philosophy
I think there are a lot of skeptics when we say we spend only 5 to 10 minutes a day in the garden for maintenance. However, that is one of the biggest secrets to maintaining a weed free garden - actually spending that time in the garden each day! This may sound a bit crazy, but 10 minutes of daily work is not the same as spending 70 minutes once a week in the garden.
In fact, there is a huge difference between the two. If you let the garden go for more than a day or two - weeds and the problems they bring multiply and magnify. Roots get deeper, spread and multiply, and suddenly you feel overwhelmed. What takes 10 minutes one day can suddenly take 4 to 8 hours when it has been neglected for a week or two. And guess what? It's not fun anymore at that point.
We head into the garden every day and walk the rows. If we see a weed around a plant, we pull it as we go. Usually, once a week we will spend the time hoeing the area only around the plants - once again - the process just takes 10 minutes to do the entire garden. Another day, we spend the time putting down some extra compost mulch around the plants or straw or shredded leaves in the paths. That's it.
So there you have it - how we keep our weeds and workload to a minimum. And remember the reason most of us garden in the first place - to eat healthier and get a little exercise. This is a perfect 10 minute workout every day!
Happy Gardening! - Jim and Mary
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Compost tea is the perfect way to boost your plants growth and obtain higher yields - NATURALLY. Better yet, you can make it for free using your own compost! We keep our garden productive
year after year by following a simple and organic three prong approach. We use compost (composting 101) and cover crops (planting cover crops) for building great soil structure and vitality - AND we boost plants during the growing season with a simple homemade natural liquid fertilizer on our plants called compost tea.
Compost tea or "black liquid gold" is the all organic "miracle-growing" solution to fertilizing the garden - minus the chemicals and high salt content that commercial fertilizers add to your soil. It works its magic in two ways - feeding your plants through the roots (soil zones around plants) and the leaves (foliar zones). Unlike synthetic fertilizers, it won't build up chemicals and salt levels that can slowly destroy your soil structure. Instead, adding nutrients that build it!
If you follow along with our blog, you know how important compost is in building healthy soil. We add large amounts of compost to all of our planting beds each year, as well as a good shovel full in every single planting hole. Well, that compost, made from our decomposed vegetable scraps, chicken manure, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and more - is teeming with all-natural, plant-boosting nutrients. By converting those nutrients into a liquid form - we can utilize those nutrients as an organic fertilizer to naturally boost plants growth through the growing season.
How we use it:
Compost Tea can be applied about every two weeks to your garden plants once plants and transplants have become established. By established, we simply mean that they have been in the ground 7 to 10 days and are over the initial shock of transplant.
We apply ours with a watering can or a simple garden sprayer - soaking the area around the root base and the leaves of each plant with the solution. The minerals and nutrients are then absorbed through the leaves (foliar absorption) as well as through the root zone - doubling the effect. As with watering, it is best to apply early in the day before the sun is too hot and the tea can burn the leaves of plants.
We repeat the compost tea applications every two weeks until about mid July. Why stop? Too much of a good thing can also be bad. You want plants to develop strong roots and stems - but too much and the plant will spend all of its energy creating thick foliage and not much fruit. We have found that 4 to 6 total applications seem to be the perfect mix for giving plants the boost they need for good higher yields. The best part - its 100% natural, with no fear of having to use any chemicals in your garden.
How we make it: There are many ways to make compost tea - but we have found this method to be easy, effective, and most importantly, simple!
BASIC COMPOST TEA RECIPE:
You will need a 5 Gallon Bucket, stir stick, water, and a few shovel fulls of finished compost.
Start by filling your bucket about 1/3 full of compost. Use compost from the bottom of your pile, where organic matter has decayed the most and is teeming with life.Next - fill the bucket to the within an inch or two of the top with water. It is best to use well water (we use our rain water) because there will be no chlorine or other chemicals. Chlorine can kill off many of the helpful bacteria and organisms that are alive in compost. If you only have access to city water, no worries - simply fill the bucket a few days in advance and let sit outside. The sun and air will work its magic and within a few days, almost all of the chlorine will be gone.
Stir the compost good with a stick or the end of your garden shovel. Over the course of the next 5 to 7 days, stir the bucket a few times each day. This aeration of the water and the stirring of the compost helps to release more nutrients into the water, much like dunking a tea bag releases more tea into your drink.
At the end of 5 to 7 days, simply strain the mixture through a piece of burlap, mesh screen or a strainer, and you are left with the magical liquid gold fertilizer called compost tea! Store in an air tight container to keep the "liquid gold" at it's best nutrient levels.
You can find more pictures on how we make it by going to our blog post. You can get a little more fancy in your compost tea making if you desire. It has been shown that adding a simple aquarium pump to the bucket and letting it run to percolate the mixture will increase the potency of the finished mixture, and can be completed in as little as 2 days. Others also add molasses or sugar to the mixture to increase the absorption of the water and organisms.
However, for us, the simple bucket and stirring method has certainly worked wonders for our garden. Besides, the extra few days we let ours steep in the water is worth not having to go through the trouble of setting up a pump, wires, etc. For us, keeping it simple is the key!So how about trying your own liquid gold this year and get those plants growing big and strong! If you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening Tips every Tuesday – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, "like" us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
Instead of thinking about the cold winter months ahead, stay positive and think instead of next spring and summer's garden. Actually, much like a great lawn – what you do now and in the
coming months can make a huge difference in the success of next year's garden. Here are four things you can do NOW to really jump-start your 2013 garden.
1. DON'T COMPOST YOUR TOMATO AND PEPPER PLANTS
Although contrary to what we normally do – which is compost everything we can – we don't compost our pepper and tomato plants from the garden. We actually throw them on our burn pile and burn them with fallen sticks, etc. Why? Just too much chance for any plant disease to get passed through to the soil for next year. In addition – the odd green or damaged fruit still on the plants, along with their thousand of seeds, are something we prefer to keep away from our compost pile.
2. CLEAN OUT THE WEEDS FROM THIS YEAR'S GARDEN
Don't let those weeds overwinter in your garden. Clean them out now and prevent weeds from going to seed, digging deeper roots – and doubling your weeding efforts next year.
3. ADD ORGANIC MATTER NOW
Chopped leaves and compost are the stars here. Dig in generous amounts of compost to your raised beds or garden. And start collecting those falling leaves now! If you don't have access to your own – make a trip around local neighborhoods and collect the bags or piles of leaves that accumulate at the curb. We use our push mower to shred the leaves. Then, we dig in generous amounts to our raised beds to decompose. Even better, use the leaves as a mulch on your beds over the winter – helping to keep valuable soil from eroding. Just dig into the bed's soil in the spring. For an even better mulch – try #4.
4. PLANT A COVER CROP
Just like the "big farmers" do – our gardens and raised beds benefit greatly from a cover crop. We have already begun to plant our cover crops in the rows we have cleaned out. We use annual rye – a great choice to help add lots of organic matter and nutrients to your soil – and also protect it over the winter months from leaching all of the nutrients out of your bare soil.
A good cover crop will dig deeply into your soil with their roots. This adds valuable organic material to your soil, along with adding plant loving nitrogen to the soil as the plants break down. Then you can turn under your cover crop in the spring before planting. We get a lot of questions on the cover crops – especially – "Won't they become weeds?" As long as you use an annual rye – and make sure to not let the grass go to seed, and turn over in the early spring – you should have no worries.
All four of these steps are great ways to ensure a healthy, productive garden next year, and without having to use harsh chemicals and fertilizers.
I have made so many uses for these, I like the netted ones, I have them in three places now, one in the garage in my storage area that holds all my cleaning things, sprays, attachments,
ect. The next is in the guest room on the back of the bedroom door. This hanger holds all the needs a vistor may need: shampoo, toothpaste, bandaides, playing cards, hair tyes and so on and much more...... and the third is in my office/nana room that holds pens up high and toys down low.
Commented on May 19, 2012
I have them hanging in each rrom and backporch . The mudroom has it for gloves and hats...GREAT!