As the writer of the book Weedless Gardening, I would have expected my own vegetable garden to be more weedless. I see weeds in my garden, more than in springs past.
Last summer’s wet weather has something to do with the present weed situation. In a normal summer, with its periods of dryness, drip irrigation (part of my “weedless” gardening system) pinpoints water to my garden plants without promoting weed growth in paths and between widely spaced plants. Incessant rain kept promoting lush growth everywhere.
The clear plastic tunnels that I put up to extend the harvest season of endive, lettuce, and other greens late into autumn also contributed to the present weed situation. Garden plants weren’t the only plants that thrived in those mini-greenhouses. Weeds also were able to sneak in and get some foothold.
In fact, the weed situation is not really that bad. The other day I cleared five beds, each about 3 feet wide and 20 feet long in less than an hour. I started at one end of each bed pulling out each weed along with any remains, now dead, of last autumn’s garden plants. One bed had a lot of little weeds that had sprouted. Rather than pull them individually, I decapitated them en masse by skimming just a half-inch or so beneath the surface of the ground with my sharp winged-weeder. Those small weeds are too small to re-sprout from root pieces.
Important in “weedless gardening” is not tilling the soil, which keeps weed seeds, inevitably present in any soil, from being exposed to the light that they need to sprout. By not having to till the soil and by thoroughly clearing beds of weeds and old plants, the beds are immediately ready for planting– as soon as the ground warms.