The abundant seeds produced by all weeds can live for up to seven years – sometimes longer – in the seed bank in the soil. They usually need light to germinate, so disturbing the soil by digging and constant chipping simply brings another crop to the surface. If light is excluded from the soil with heavy mulches, very few weeds succeed, and those that do are easy to remove by hand. Mulch should never be in contact with stems or trunks; weeds occurring there are mostly overshadowed. Annual weeds need not be pulled out. They are dispersed by seed, so an easy way to manage them is to cut them to the ground before they flower and seed. Slash annual weeds blanketing an empty garden bed in the same way. It adds humus to the soil. A neat, bare, weed-free soil surface still appeals to many gardeners, but it does involve a much greater workload and water usage. If you prefer the look of unmulched earth, you will need to hoe at least weekly in spring and summer. A few minutes of regular attention are better than hours spent clearing a badly overgrown plot. The aim is to sever the tops from the roots of all seedling weeds so they will not regrow. To do this, keep the hoe blade sharp. Make the most of hot, dry days, when uprooted weeds wilt and die quickly and hoeing leaves the surface of the soil loose and crumbly. However carefully you use a hoe, you will still have to weed by hand among close-growing plants. Deal with the weeds when small, because if they are left too long, their removal will disturb the roots of the vegetables.
Weeding a seedbed- In a seedbed, vegetable seeds and weed seeds will have exactly the same conditions for germination. Their seedlings may therefore emerge at about the same time, and you may be confronted with a bewildering green carpet in which it is difficult to distinguish the vegetables from the weeds. Anticipate this problem at sowing time by inserting small canes at the ends of each row. When growth is about 2.5 cm high, tie string between the canes, thus marking the vegetable seed row, and hoe to within 2.5 cm on each side, then mulch.
Despite their sometimes overwhelming abundance, annual weeds are relatively easy to manage. Perennial weeds, however, have more survival strategies and are therefore more difficult to control. Many have underground stems (rhizomes), which can spread a single plant over a wide area. Others have drought-resistant tubers or abundant cormlets and bulbils. These weeds can make gardeners despair and turn to weedicides, which are not desirable in an organic garden. Careful hand weeding is useful. Weeds such as sour sob and oxalis should be dug to spade depth and the plant and surrounding soil removed intact, as this will contain dozens of tiny bulbils, each one a potential plant. Changing the growing conditions will all but eliminate some perennial weeds. For example, you could improve drainage, change the soil acidity by adding dolomite or lime, or reduce shade. Finally, a garden bed severely infested with perennial weeds can usually be cleared by covering it with well-anchored heavy black plastic or weed mat for 12 to 18 months.
|RD Editor on 24 August 2011 ,10:17 |
Hi Pierre, Stodels has a weed mat - R195.95, 1m x 10m. Check out their website for more details. Good luck! www.stodels.com
|Pierre on 09 August 2011 ,22:47 |
Where could one buy weed mat? No one seems to know what im talking about and im having tremendous trouble acquiring some....
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