Today I want to share with you the reason why I hardly have to weed our vegetable garden at all through the growing season, but before I show you how I manage this, here is a little reminder of what the beds looked like in March when I discussed designing a garden for easy care:
The traditional way of dealing with all these weeds that grow in the winter is to till and rake, but you may remember I don’t till the ground for a variety of reasons. Instead, in February or March (somebody who’s on the ball could even do it in the fall after harvest…), I throw a piece of black plastic over the bed.
Then time, sun and heat do their magic, and by the time I am able to plant, I pull back the plastic and it looks like this:
Now please don’t get all in a pickle over the fact that it’s not the EXACT bed in the before picture above – honestly, they both looked the same, but I needed to plant this bed first, so it is the one in the pictures. You can see in the upper part of the picture, the exact same bed is still covered with plastic- but by the end of the post, it is planted, too.
Then I add a fresh layer of compost to the bed and rake it smooth. I do this every year to build the soil and I just leave it on top. When I dig the furrows and holes, it gets mixed in some.
I want to emphasize that I have never tilled these beds- and they were pasture with that awful pasture grass when we moved here. The plants have always done well and I rotate the crops so that the corn usually follows the legumes (which fix nitrogen and enriches the soil).
After that preparation, I plant. Since this is a bed for beans (green and dry), cukes and squash, I set up my trellises first, then plant.
I do use an inoculant for the beans. It’s supposed to help them fix the nitrogen in the soil. I like the granulated kind you just sprinkle in the furrows versus the powder that needs to be applied to wet bean seeds.
I lay the soaker hose, and in this case have put a piece of fencing over some of my beans to try and deter any birds that might want to find what I’ve just planted. Watering with the soaker hoses puts the water where I want it- not in the space between plants where weeds want to grow- so it’s a major player in keeping weeding to a minimum.