A lovely reader named Leigh suggested I post about weeds. Weeds do occupy quite a bit of every gardener's thoughts and time. If I say something, do you promise you won't hate me or never come back and read me again?
I like to weed.
There. I said it. I'm not crazy. I promise. It's for the same reason I love vacuuming. You start out with something visibly messy and you make it clean and pleasing to the eye (and bare foot). My favorite time of the day to weed is in the evening after I've put Miriam to bed. Jamey is playing with and putting the other two kids to sleep. It's quiet outside. The day is cooling off, the sun is sinking. I'm alone with my thoughts. I'm alone! Maybe that's another reason why I like it. Can I say something else?
It's okay to have weeds in your garden.
There. I said that, too. Of course, you don't want so many weeds that they are choking out your plants and you don't want to let the weeds get so big that they go to seed, scattering baby weeds all over your garden, but some weeds are okay. I repeat. Some weeds are okay. Please don't think your garden has to look perfect for you to be a good gardener. For most of us, there is more to life than our garden. Our garden has never been weed free (photos can be deceiving) and we manage to grow plenty of good food.
Now that I've possibly caused you to fall out of your chair (twice?), I'd like to talk about how we deal with weeds. As I'm sure you've noticed, we use straw, grass clippings and shredded leaves to mulch our garden. The bulk of the mulch is straw. In order for straw to help with weeds, you must put it on THICK. It should be 3-4 inches thick when you're standing on it. A light coating of straw will look nice and keep your paths from getting too muddy, but it will not deter weeds.
When you use straw for mulch, you cannot hoe. When you use straw for mulch, some weeds still come through. This means, you have to get down on your hands and knees and pull weeds. Thankfully, the straw also keeps the ground moist, so many weeds slip out easier than they would otherwise. If you prefer hoeing, straw for mulch may not be for you.
As far as killing weeds (safely for those animals, vegetables and people about), the only way I know of that actually works is to use boiling water. I do not lug vats of boiling water to the gardens to kill weeds. Instead I use woman-power there, but for around the back of the house, in a few flower beds and between the cracks of our old, brick patio, I use boiling water. It works. You can boil water in your teapot for spot-killing. Usually, after I've canned or blanched something, I very carefully carry my canner or pot outside and pour boiling water over the weeds. Be so careful you do not pour water on your toes or legs!! Also, be careful not to pour boiling water on your flowers or vegetables. It can't tell the difference. The weeds will be obviously on their way out by the next day. If they come back, hit them again when they're small. By doing so, you've stressed that weed out twice in close succession and there is a good chance it's not coming back.
Here's the part of this post I've been looking forward to...your turn.
Tell me about your relationship with weeds- do you chase them around in your dreams with a blow torch or do you respect them as part of creation? What methods have you found to be successful when it comes to killing weeds? Let's keep sharing our wealth of information, folks. I bet we'll all learn something.