a hand wearing a garden glove pulling weeds out of the garden

Organic Weed Control for Your Garden

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Are weeds taking over your garden and yard? Here are some ideas for organic weed control so the solution doesn’t make you sick. Knowing how to control weeds is an important part of beginning gardening skills. Because they can ruin everything. And we don’t want them to.

Picture of a dandelion with white puffy seeds and another picture of baby lettuce plants in gorgeous soil

Organic weeding

The kids will pick a few weeds, but they tire of it quickly, especially the younger ones. What’s a girl to do? I refuse to give in and use round up or any other toxic chemicals to control weeds. I need an organic weed control system. 

Roundup has been found in our food supply and people’s bloodstream and tissue in alarming amounts and is believed to be a cause for numerous health problems including Parkinson’s disease, infertility, and cancer. Click here to see reports on links between Roundup and cancer. Click here to see a report on links between Roundup and Parkinson’s disease. 

More information on how to build raised beds, build a trellis for your plants, and basic gardening information you need is available here in these beginning gardening videos. Click here for more information. You can even download a tour of what types of beds we have in our preschool gardens for free. 

Beginning Gardening Videos

Back to the weeds, we need to keep the weeds to a minimum in the garden because they can shade out our desirable plants, choke out their space to grow roots, and rob them of moisture and nutrients. Most weeds are very resilient, that’s how they survive. While our produce plants have to be cultivated and cared for in order to find success.

okra seedlings in the organic raised garden bed with weeds here and there

How to control weeds naturally

There are a few things that can help cut down on the amount of time you spend weeding with organic weed control ideas:

1. The first rule of keeping a weed free garden is weed early, and weed OFTEN! Don’t give those root systems a chance to develop and for goodness sake, don’t let those seed heads develop and spread more weeds! Pulling weeds by hand is the safest way to control them. Try to get the roots out intact so they will not grow back on the root.

2. Landscape fabric or plastic makes a barrier on top of your soil that can help prevent unwanted vegetation from growing in areas you don’t want them. Multiple layers of cardboard or newspaper can have the same effect.

3. Making your own spray of full-strength vinegar and a few teaspoons of dishwashing liquid can burn your weeds with acidity. The dish liquid breaks down the waxy coating on the weeds and allows the vinegar to penetrate the weed. This will burn your desirable plants as well, so be careful.

How to keep weeds out of vegetable garden naturally

4. Mulching around your plants when they are 4-5 inches tall with straw (not hay), leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, or other materials can help your garden retain moisture as well as smother out any weeds that try to germinate and help your vegetable garden stay weed free. Hay contains seeds so it can be counterproductive. Mulching heavily is the best way to keep weeds at bay. The deeper the mulch, the less will germinate. Tuck those plants in all comfy and safe with as much mulch as you can find. Is it a good idea to use plastic mulch? Click on the highlighted text to find out more. 

5. Using a hoe or other tool to kill weeds can be an effective way to reduce weeds without as much bending which can be hard on your back. Also, you can use these tools to scrape along your driveway or sidewalks to kill weeds growing up in the cracks.

6. Preventative measures go a long way in weed prevention. Avoid using compost that may contain weed seeds in it. Make sure if you are bringing in soil, that it does not contain weed seeds. The last thing you want to do is ADD weeds to your garden. This will help you with organic weed control more than anything.

raised bed growing naturally with weeds around the plants

Controlling weeds organically

Learn to like the process, because weeding is not going anywhere. Weeding a small area often will save you from having a giant area to weed that can be overwhelming. Some weeds are even edible and can be picked and eaten for valuable nutrients.

The other day my friend Christina came to take a tour of our gardens. I was complaining to her about the overwhelming number of weeds in the garden and she said, you’re not going to be able to have it perfect with NO weeds. She was so right.

Being a perfectionist, many times I forget that nothing in the garden will ever be perfect. I was grateful she reminded me. It’s best to learn that a few weeds in the garden is okay.

Check out this month by month garden planting guide for more beginner gardening information as well as these posts:

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  1. My method of planting cuts way down on weeds…it’s called a “sea of green” method. I plant in blocks. Usually my blocks are 4ft. by 4ft.. Put your seeds at a distance from each other where when the plants mature they will be touching each other. This does two things. It shades the ground, which helps keep moisture in the soil, and it also reduces the chances of weed seeds germinating. You will need to keep on the weed patrol for about a month until the plants start shading the ground. Once the baby plants are up a few inches and have their “true leaves” then you can sprinkle Corn Gluten on the soil around the plants, which will keep seeds from germination. Corn Gluten can be bought at the feed mill in 50 lb bags at a very reasonable price. This method is so full and beautiful when the plants fill in! I love to plant a whole bed 20ft.X20ft. full of different lettuces. You can plant them to change colors in a pattern style. Such as rounding the edges in Red Lettuces, and filling the center with bright green surrounded by differing shades of green.

    1. That sounds beautiful! We try to do the square foot gardening method to crowd out weeds as well, although, when preschool children are planting, it’s never as fancy as all that. 🙂 We are just lucky to get stuff growing. But we have a lot of fun and get a lot of healthy exercise, knowledge and food! 🙂 Thanks for checking out this article and for your comments. I’m going to look for corn gluten.

      1. Have you tried straw bale gardening? I also teach in a nursery school garden. Straw bales don’t have weeds, and since watering is a favorite activity, the bales provide excellent drainage. You can google it and join the “growing” number of bale gardens!

  2. Great post! I’m using bark mulch this year in the veggie garden to cut back on mine. So far it’s really helping to slow it down and make the big ones more visible.

  3. I tried the vinegar and dish soap on the weeds last year and it killed many. It’s been so rainy this year I haven’t been able to get out there to start spraying so I can start planting my veggies.

  4. A local gardener who sells to the public uses a small propane powered machine that has a small flame at the end. Like a tiny flame thrower. I don’t know the actual name
    But she has five acres in produce and almost no weeds. I’m certainly going to look into this year it kills the plant immediately

  5. We used the Back Eden method, but we still have weeds. It has rained so much here that the weeds are growing like weeds. I hate weeding, but with the Back to Eden method weeds are easier to pull. Followed you here from the Let’s Get Real Friday party.

    1. Back to Eden is interesting. We kind of do that with heavy mulching of straw instead of wood chips, and it does make the weeds SO MUCH EASIER to pull for sure! I read that if you have weeds with these methods it’s because your layer of material is not thick enough, do you think that could be the case for you? I have raised beds, so I can’t put 12 inches of straw on them when they are only 12 inches tall, but the straw does cut way down on the weeds. The few beds that we don’t have straw on are totally full of weeds and the ones we do have straw on have one or two easy to pull weeds. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. We are already getting a little behind on the weeds… and we haven’t even planted the garden yet!!!! Thank you for the information and the reminder to get going on it. 🙂

    1. Hang in there! The weeds here popped out way before anything else started sprouting. Ornery weeds! We are doing our best to tackle them though. 🙂 that’s all we can do. Don’t give up!