The Q&A Archives: Preparing and maintaining a vegetable garden

Question: Every year our garden is overrun by weeds. What should we use to prevent weeds before we start planting? Also what is the best fertilizer to use? We usually till under the weeds during the planting season, but is this the correct thing to do?

Answer: Since it is almost planting time I would suggest tilling as usual and then raking out the weeds. Plant as usual and then cover over the bare earth with several inches of organic mulch (I lay several thicknesses of newspaper first and then put the mulch on top to keep the papers from blowing away). Together they will suppress weeds. At the end of the growing season dig or till the mulch into the soil and then plant a green manure cover crop in the bed. You can sow seeds of vetch, or any other winter crop. It will outcompete any weeds and give you the added bonus of fixing nitrogen in the soil. In the spring till the cover crop into the soil to help enrich it. Repeat each year and you will have rich garden loam and very few weeds. Best wishes with your garden!

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