There is nothing more satisfying than growing your own organic vegetables, but how is it possible to keep the weeds at bay?
Weedkillers such as roundup don't just kill weeds. They contaminate the soil around them and make it virtually impossible to grow healthy organic food that is safe to eat. Studies have shown that it can stay in the soil for up to 2 years and has an adverse affect on plant and soil ecology.1 In laboratory tests using rats and mice, it has shown to decrease fertility.
So what are the alternatives to using harsh chemicals?
The best way (and probably the hardest) to keep the weeds to a minimum is to remove weeds on a daily basis, removing them manually from the soil. In order to reduce the effort involved in this, it is best to turn the soil over and keep it loose on the areas where there are no plants growing. With the use of tools to help you and getting into the habit of maintaining it daily, it becomes relatively easy and hassle free in time.
Plant strategically, known as companion planting. Learn which foods grow better next to each other and will not invade one an other's space but will give enough ground coverage to suppress weeds, repel pests and keep your vegetables or fruits growing abundantly.2
Know your soil type. It is possible to buy testing kits that can test the ph level of your soil. For example, clay soil is more alkali and will have a higher ph than sandy soil. Research the ideal soil type for each vegetable you want to grow, and if your soil is not right, look for a natural organic fertilizer to correct it.
Supplement the soil with compost. It is best to know the source or ideally, make your own. Remember to burn weeds and put the ashes on the compost heap rather than the weed itself, or it will leave unwanted seeds in the compost that will wreak havoc in your organic garden for many years to come.
Salt diluted in water makes for an excellent weed killer. Applying directly to the weed will not have any adverse affect on the soil or to the vegetables you are growing around it. Be conscious that if the soil becomes too contaminated with salt it will impair the quality of the vegetables you are growing.
Boiling water is another natural way to eliminate weeds from your patch. This would be better suited when preparing the soil to plant, rather than using with established plants as the heat from the water will kill any roots that are surrounding the weeds.
Vinegar is an excellent organic weedkiller. It has a high acidity which works by killing the leaves of the weed and stopping it from growing further shoots. It is most effective on younger weeds, but can have a desired affect on more established ones after several applications.
Weed suppressants such as mulch, straw and newspaper are fantastic for preventing weed growth by blocking sunlight to the weed. Simply lay it down around your plants.
Corn Gluten Meal stops weed seeds from germinating. The gluten ( which is a by-product in the manufacture of corn meal and cornstarch) in the corn is the active ingredient that does this. Scattering the corn meal over the soil will help stop the weeds from coming through. Although this method is not highly recommended in the U.S. due to the fact that nearly all corn is GMO. It can be said that it is still allowed though in organic standards.
Organic gardening can be fun and productive. With a little t.l.c. it can be something you can be proud of. If you have young children, it is also a great way to educate and entertain them. The benefits are endless and you will feel better knowing exactly where your food has come from.
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