Yesterday was a London-like foggy day here on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. A light mist fell; anyone with naturally curly hair (like Frieda from “The Peanuts”) had a battle to maintain a sleek and smooth coiffure (like Jackie Oh!)
A day like this is a perfect day to weed the garden. When the garden’s soil is soft from the rain, the weeds pop right out; when soil is dry, the weed’s roots cling to the soil and make weeding more difficult. Of course, on a foggy day, you might get a little misty and your hair might get a little curly. You might even have to get your hands dirty. It’s all worth it, though, to get rid of those pesky weeds. Flowers and vegetables grow better when they don’t have to share soil nutrients with them.
Not everyone likes to get down on their knees and weed the garden. There are other ways. Some people take the thrifty approach and use old cardboard and newspapers between the rows. Other gardeners use grass clippings; just remember to apply them thinly because they can get soggy if applied too heavily. I’ve used landscape fabric and landscape plastic to mulch my tomatoes and it works well. Uncle Bob didn’t seem to care for it; the implication seemed to be that I was lazy for not wanting to weed. Here’s a whole variety of mulches for other lazy people like me. Farmers with large areas to plant use landscape fabrics; as much as they like weeding, sometimes things get away from them when they’re busy doing other things.
This year, I’m doing an informal mulching and weed control experiment with my tomatoes. I’ve mulched one group of tomatoes with salt marsh hay. Unlike other types of hay, salt marsh hay does not contain any seeds and thus won’t sprout new weeds in your garden. It’s a common type of mulch for East Coast gardeners as the Atlantic Ocean is its native habitat. It’s also relatively inexpensive; I paid nine dollars for a bale and a bale goes a long way in little gardens like mine. I used half a bale to mulch my potatoes and brought the other half home to mulch my tomatoes.
I mulched the second group of tomatoes with bagged compost I bought at Pine Knoll Landscape. One benefit of using compost as weed controlling mulch is that the nutrients from it will slowly leach into the plant’s root system and provide a steady supply of fertilization over the growing season. It looks neat and tidy, too. One caveat; I’ve planted saved marigold seeds between the tomato plants mulched with compost.
Regardless of whatever method of weed control you use, you still might have to get your hands dirty and there’s nothing wrong with that.
How do you control weeds in your garden?