The Q&A Archives: Vegetable Gardening

Question: What is the best way to keep weeds down in a vegetable garden.

Answer: The best way to keep a vegetable garden weed free is to mulch over the bare soil and between the plants. I use a thick (a solid one inch) layer of newspapers laid flat in the row, followed by a layer of straw mulch. You could also use black plastic, landscape fabric or a very thick layer of grass clippings or straw. Plant seed in rows, so you can easily hoe between the rows. As soon as seedlings are up, begin mulching around them--I use grass clippings piled thickly between plants. You could even put a layer of landscape fabric down, cut holes in it, and plant your seedlings in the holes. This is especially good for tomatoes and peppers--plants that need to be widely spaced. You may want to add a thick layer of straw mulch around each plant, so the soil doesn't heat up too much under the dark fabric. There is a new natural herbicide available, made from corn gluten meal. It prevents seed germination. All these things take a little time in the spring, but they are well worth the effort, and will save lots of time later on in the season.

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