The Q&A Archives: Weeds vs. Transplant Seedlings...

Question: I wantto plant veggies and herb this spring, but my garden is always overrun by weeds. Even when i dig them all up, they seem to gorw back thicker 3 weeks later! I keep hearing that mulch helps, but how would that work if I try to plant from seed, or transplant seedlings into the garden? Do i make a small clearing in the mulch? Wouldn't really work well if the mulch is a few inches or more think, and the opening might have to be really small for fear that weeds might get some sunlight! I heard about a black plastic. Is this better? Would I be able to keep this black plastic on the garden bed 9with holes cut out for my plants) all summer long or will this eventually hurt the soil?

Answer: Controlling weeds takes a variety of strategies. In a newly prepared garden soil you will have more weeds at the beginning and fewer after a couple of years as the soil seed bank becomes depleted. Every time you disturb the soil you bring more weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate, so avoid working the soil unnecessarily. Regular raking or hoeing is one way to control weeds if they do begin to appear; catching them when still small makes the job easier. Also be sure they are not allowed to go to seed.

One strategy with a new garden is after the first soil preparation, wait a few weeks and allow weeds at the surface to germinate, rake or hoe them off, then plant your seeds or transplants. This will reduce the immediate competition with your crop seeds.

Using transplants also makes it easier to weed during the time the plants are young and small as they have a head start over weeds.

Using mulch is definitely helpful. Push it aside and plant, yes. It should be several inches thick and kept to within an inch or so of your desired plants. This limits the area open to weeds.

Using black plastic is sometimes recommended in cases where it is desirable to warm the soil for early planting or to grow a heat loving crop such as watermelons perhaps, or in commercial gardens where mulch is not desired. In a home garden, in my experience, it is better to use the organic mulches so that they can help continue to feed the soil on an onging basis.

I hope this gives you some ideas.

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