Weeds, if we are going to call them that, can undoubtedly be a challenge. While they tend to be quite useful and many of them are edible, the fact is that some plants just pop up where they aren’t wanted. Maybe they are occupying the cracks in the driveway, ripping up the pavement. Maybe they are outcompeting the lettuce crop this year or crowding out a young tree. In some cases, certain plants — weeds — have just got to go.
Luckily, despite what agro-chemical companies would have us believe, there’s more than one way to take weeds out, and none of the worthwhile methods have to do with poisonous chemicals. For those looking to get organic in the vegetable patch or even the flower garden, hoping to combat sidewalk weed issues without resorting to something toxic, the options are out there. Not only are they available, but they are wicked effective.
Uninvited Guests on the Driveway
Driveways, whether they are gravel, concrete or asphalt, eventually begin to give way to wild plants. Nature finds a way. But, for those who want to clean up the driveway without poisoning the earth, there is a familiar answer: vinegar.
Vinegar is good for just about any household cleaning task, and it’s also aces for weed assassination. The thing is that vinegar will kill whatever plants it comes into contact with, so it’s not great for gardens. However, that’s not an issue on driveways.
A gallon of typical 5 percent white vinegar, as one would buy at the store, works great as a driveway weed killer. If the weeds seem overly persistent, coming back a few weeks later, a cup of salt added to the vinegar will likely do them in for the entire season or longer. Some people also include a tablespoon of dishwashing soap to help the salt and vinegar adhere to the plant matter in question.
This, as with any weed killer really, is best applied on a sunny day and will take a few days to get the deed done.
Vagrants in the Vegetable Patch
Gardeners and weeds have an extremely temperamental relationship. While the weeds can be good for repairing soil and adding organic matter, when they steal valuable nutrients from crops or flowers, they quickly outstay their welcome.
The best way to get rid of weeds in the garden is to put the effort in early and prevent them. Firstly, try to avoid tilling the garden, accomplished by avoiding stepping in it, which compacts the soil, and maintain a good layer of mulch. A couple of inches of mulch can go a really long way at keeping weeds at bay, or at least easy to pull.
If weeds seem to be a huge issue already, sheet mulching can be a way of snuffing them out a little more. Before laying down more aesthetic mulch, such as pine needles, hay or wood chips, lay down a layer of cardboard or a few layers of newspaper. Beneath the pretty exterior, the cardboard won’t allow any weeds through and will eventually rot away and feed the earth.
When sheet mulching with gardens, it’s important to puncture a hole beneath the veggies or flowers so that their roots can reach a little lower — down through the cardboard — if need be.
Filling the Empty Space
While some plants can certainly pose a problem, it’s wise to become a little more in tune with what’s happening. For one, most weeds have some truly desirable qualities. Some break up compact soil. Others prevent erosion with hairnet root systems. Many are absolutely delicious. They are all there because nature dictates they should be.
If weeds are around, it means that there is an empty space that needs filling in the garden. We can often remedy that by planting out the weeds with something more desirable to perform the same role. For example, if soils are compacted, try filling all the empty areas, where dandelions and other taproot weeds call home, with daikon radish.
Of course, with a little research, we find out that what we once considered a weed is actually delicious or medicinal. At that point, we may decide to keep it around. After all, in nature, there are no weeds; weeds are simply plants humans have decided we don’t like. Dandelions actually came to the U.S. as a salad green, and Kudzu is highly nutritious and tasty.
Working with the Weeds
However we decide to combat the next weed epidemic, it’s important to try to work with them and understand why they are appearing. Weeds, some say, are a symptom of a problem. They’ve come along because weeds tend to be plants that grow in less than ideal conditions, such as in lawns, eroding earth, etc. We just have to fix the issues, and the weeds are more likely to disappear. So, we have to listen to what the weeds are telling us.
Lead Image Source: Pixabay