Answer: The weed you describe could be either stinging nettle or giant hogweed. Both have hollow stems and both can cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Since you're concerned about using chemicals in close proximity to your veggie garden, you have two options. One is to hand weed; dig, pull, cut to the ground as often as necessary to keep the weeds from sprouting up again. Another option is to place barriers, just as you have already done. A third option is to use a vegetation killer such as Round-Up. The active ingredient in Round-Up degrades rather quickly and does not travel in the soil. So, spot treating the weedy growth will work, without the concern of the chemical getting to your veggie garden.
Best wishes with your weed eradication project!
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