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Weed control

 
Posts: 3
Location: Tri-Cities, Eastern Washington (Zone 7a)
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Hello all!
New to gardening and new to this community!
Last year I started my garden in Eastern Washington State and had a blast doing it. We have a pretty big plot of land, about 1300 sq ft. This year, the weeds have been out of control! After planting, I didn’t tend to the garden as much as would have liked (I’m a school counselor, so now I am out for the summer) but after only a few weeks the weeds overtook almost everything. I have identified the primary weeds as pigweed, mallow, and crabgrass.

My question is, what is the best and most cost effective weed control for a big area such as mine? Any help or redirection to other threads would be very helpful. I’m still new to this and excited to learn!
 
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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The best and cheapest way to control weeds is to smother them with cardboard.

The other safe ways to kill weeds may damage your garden plants, such as 10% vinegar.

Some of your weeds may be edible or medicinal, like pigweed. See this thread:

https://permies.com/t/16519/Questions-pigweed-amaranth

Here are some threads on weeds that might help:

https://permies.com/t/160453/weeds-food-medicine

https://permies.com/t/142524/weeds-telling-soil

https://permies.com/t/147401/Gardening-weeds
 
pollinator
Posts: 339
Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
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I am also in Eastern Washington.  I am on year 5 with a new garden area and this is my best year: so have hope!

I use straw everywhere.  I use in in my walkways and in my hoop house.  I use brown paper and cardboard under the straw first until I run out of Amazon boxes; then I just use straw.  6 inches deep each year.

In my flower beds I mulch heavily ( 4-6 inches) every fall with sawdust or shavings.  NOT bark.  When I put in a new bed I take all the weeds out and mulch heavily around my starts.  Usually with leaves, pine needles or anything I can get. I just did a young asparagus bed with leaves today.

To me mulching is the only way unless you want to spray and honestly...mulching does way better.  I used to be a user of Roundup ( eeeeek!) snd found I got worse and worse varieties of weeds.  Much less the fact I was eating roundup and breathing it. Now I pull and mulch and my beds look great. Plus I have lots of beneficial insects and so many bird varieties it’s incredible.  My gardens are alive.

It’s an ongoing process..it’s not done in a year or 3.  All soil needs to be fed and mulching is beneficial as well as attractive.  

Work hard!  Dont give up.  It’s incredibly satisfying to see a lovely garden you created and eat the food your grubby fingers planted.

69008BED-8087-4AD1-8D09-A24BE2EAD545.jpeg
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Janet Reed
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Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
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Oops!  Here’s the other picture!  Look mom! No weeds!
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master steward
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Location: Maine, zone 5
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For me the best way is to convert to perennial edibles in a forest garden format with no soil disturbance.  When the perennials fill in they can out compete the annual weeds.  
 
Evan Kruschke
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Location: Tri-Cities, Eastern Washington (Zone 7a)
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Wow, thank you all for your help! It sounds like cardboard is a great way to go, especially in walkways and such places. Would straw or sawdust be good in between vegetable plants? For example, many of the weeds came up between the spaces of my onions. When I went to go pull them, the roots were so big many of my onions came up as well.
 
Janet Reed
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Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
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You can use mulch in between rows...but the key is to pull weeds regularly so that you don’t pull up your little starts. Just keep on it.

Things like potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage I mulch in between plants;   beets, carrots etc I just keep weed free. Mulch around the edges etc.  

If you mulch heavily in the fall when you’re all done each year will be better. You’ll plant in your decomposing mulch in the next spring.  All that mulch will have smothered a lot of last years weeds and added nutrition to your soil. Your weeds are a lot easier to pull from a well mulched bed.

I wait til the town near me has their leaf pickup time.  Most cities have one.  Then I mosey down the alleys and take the bags!  I get my neighbors leaves.  I have a friend who has a mowing company use her place to drop off clippings.  Some people get all the coffee grounds from their local latte stand. It’s all mulch.  Straw, cardboard and black and white newspaper is cheap.

Some people use a shredder on the newspaper.  When I use cardboard I just break it down.  I lay it out and then I water it down really good and straw on top. The key is to make your mulch deep so it smothers the weeds.

Keep at it!  And enjoy the fruits of your labors.

 
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Just curious, why not bark as mulch?
 
Posts: 141
Location: King William, VA
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I was wondering too.  I always use shredded wood ships in my perennial/flower beds!
 
Janet Reed
pollinator
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Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
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Bark, like decorator bark does not really decompose well.   I tried it once and had bark chunks 3 years later. I have access to bark but would never use it for mulching.That’s a personal choice.  I do use lots of old bark in hugels under deep soil.

The chips I use are like horse bedding; very small.  I re mulch yearly on most spots or bi yearly on a few.  My goal is to not only mulch but to build the soil.  I want things that I mulch with to decompose and make my soil deeper and richer.  And it holds moisture really well.  I water less.

Sometimes around prolific plants (like the cat mint I just cut back) I chop and drop 4-6 inches deep of plant material that serves the same purpose. By spring it’s pretty gone.

Again, if I do get weeds with mulching they are easy to pull.
 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Anything that a person uses will help, whether bark chips, wood chips, straw, cardboard, even chop and drop, etc. The key to success is to get the layer thick enough to smother the weeds.  That might be as much as 6 inches.

Wood chips, straw, chop and drop all basically help improve the soil as they decompose and also the weeds that are trying to be smothered.

All summer I have been using anything that I found that would smother them.

I don't have access to bark chips, wood chips, or straw.

I do have access to cardboard, though it is really windy here so I have to weigh the cardboard down to keep it from blowing away.

The thing that I found worked best for me was strips of metal, like roofing. While this does not improve the soil it kills and gets rid of the weeds the fastest of any method I have tried.

This might not work in a cool climate though it works great in a hot Texas summer.

A lot of my weeds are juniper trees. I put metal over a bunch of weeds with a juniper tree that was about 4-inches tall.  I put a block of 2 x 4 on another juniper tree.  The first tree is gone though I am still working on the 2-inch tree now as I put a piece of metal over it.

 
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