Weeds are every gardeners evil foe but did you know that you can use weeds to kill weeds?
Like any plant material weeds can be used as a mulch material around the base of your plants. Large plants like tomatoes can benefit from mulch as can cucumbers, squash and any plant where the fruit is away from the ground.
Lets face it after pulling weeds in your garden all day the last thing you want to do is spend another half hour bagging them up or throwing them into your recycling bin.
Since most weeds propagate by seed you never want to think about saving plants that have started to form seeds. You should always bag and discard weeds that have seeds forming or place it into an area in your yard where the plants won’t be mixed in with soil to grow plants. Weed seeds can survive for years so don’t take chances and cause yourself more work.
Smaller weeds in your garden can be turned under with a garden rake, hoe or trowel. This works well for weeds that are under an inch high but once they have established roots it will require that you get on your knees and pull them one by one.
Professionals with medium to large gardens or small farms will use tractor attachments to roto till between long lines of plant beds. Throwing the dirt up on the bed will cover weeds and kill them. Unfortunately when you are dealing with a handful of lettuce plants or tomatoes pulling out motorized equipment is not really an option and is likely to lead to more damage to your plants then benefit.
Even when you are pulling weeds by hand you should do so when the soil is lose so that the weeds around your vegetables don’t disturb the roots of your vegetables.
After you have pulled all your weeds what should you do with them?
Well the method I use is to shake off the soil as I pull the weeds leaving the roots as bare as possible then I just toss the plant into the rows between my vegetable beds. In about a day or so the plants will have completely dried out and they are ready to be used as mulch around your tomato and other plants.
The most important thing is to never save weeds with seeds.
And I normally just toss any dandelion or other large weeds and save only the crab grass. Crabgrass works well for mulch and is similar to using straw.
Remember just never save any weeds with seeds on them and you will have a almost unlimited amount of mulch for your plants. And it is right there so use it.
Another important thing is to not stack your mulch too deep around your vegetables. Plant matter that is breaking down and is wet will tend to heat up. You probably noticed the heat that comes off your compost pile and since the plants have not broke down completely they could increase heat around your vegetable roots. Just use enough to cover the soil and keep the light from starting new weeds from growing.