I hate picking weeds. Sure, it’s rewarding to look back on a bed you just spent an hour souring over every square inch of dirt. But a few days later and you’re back at it–back aching and fingers stained with chlorophyll. There are more efficient methods of scraping the soil bare, like using a loop hoe to gently cultivate around plants or even blast the weeds away between rows with a flamethrower.
But this year, we’re trying our hand at intensive mulching. Using grass clippings, compost, and seaweed, we’re piling it on every chance we get in between plants. Along with keeping down the weeds, mulching has some big benefits over other methods of garden tidying:
- The soil temperature below the mulch stays more consistent
- Plants require less irrigation as the mulch retains moisture
- The mulch breaks down over time, enriching the soil and feeding your plants
Now, mulching does have its downsides. For one thing, I’d imagine that mulching on a large scale would get cumbersome and expensive real quick. Another issue is garden hygiene and pest control. Nasties like squash bugs love to hid in the duff both during the season and over-winter. And its more difficult to ensure that your garden is squeaky clean of crop detritus at the end of a season if the soil is covered with mulch–potentially contributing to disease build-up in the soil.
But if you’re just working a kitchen garden and you have a smart enough crop rotation, I’m gonna wager that these issues won’t really present themselves. At least, that’s what I’m banking on.
We’ll still have to pick weeds of course, but they should be fewer and farther between. My hope is that by the middle of the season, when the heat and thunderstorms make the garden take off like a rocket ship, the mulch will be thick enough to keep down pretty much everything. But only time will tell.
So how do you keep weeds down in your garden? Have any experience with mulching? Let us know in the comments.