The Q&A Archives: Geting rid of problem weeds

Question: We have recently moved on to a 7-1/2 acre property that was somewhat neglected over the past few years. Once we moved the old car bodies off what was once thegarden, we hoped to be able to plant there. The problem is that as the garden has been abandoned for around ten years, quack [crab]grass, clover andrussian thistle have taken over. We have rototilleda number of times but all this seems to do is break up the roots. From each small piece of root anew plant seems to spring. Hand weeding can control it a bit, but it is a very large garden and once youget to one end the weeds are two feet tall at theother. We have thought of leaving half in fallow this year [we do have to have some garden!!]and rototill it often. We have even, horror of horrors, considered a product such as Round-Up to control the problem. An organic solution would be preferable. Do you have any suggestions or advice?? Barbara Koshman Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Answer: I like the idea of cover cropping part of your garden and concentrating your work on the remaining section. I'd grow successive crops of buckwheat as a cover crop on the fallow section, tilling it in just before flowering and seeding again. This shouldhelp eliminate some of those weeds. The garden section, the best method would be to form raised beds, clean out as much of the weed roots as possible and mulch heavily between the raised beds with hay, straw, cardboard.... any kind of organic matter. It may take a few seasons to rid yourselves of these weeds, but at least this way you can garden in the mean time.

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