Raised bed gardening is an extremely easy method to overcome the poor soil problem. The soil of a raised bed garden is better than a normal piece of land and very suitable for growing vegetables. Unfortunately, weeds also find that soil very enjoyable.
It is extremely important to keep weeds out of your garden bed for the sake of your plants. Because weeds are very strong competitors of water, nutrients and sunlight. And that can seriously hurt your yield.
Keep reading to find the best and easiest methods to keep weeds out of the raised bed garden.
If you are planning to make a new raised bed garden, here are a few methods you should follow to keep weeds from the bottom.
1: Soil Solarization.
Soil solarization is a non-chemical process to kill the pests and weeds in your soil. Before building your raised bed garden, you should solarize the soil underneath. In this process, we are going to use sunlight and plastic sheet to kill weeds and pests.
- Cover the area of your selection with a plastic sheet.
- Like a greenhouse, the sheet will trap more sunlight. That will increase the temperature of the soil, which will kill the weeds and pests.
- This process will take six to eight weeks.
- Before covering the soil surface, tilling would be a good idea to trap more heat. Till the top 6 inches of soil.
- The plastic sheet should be 1.5mm thick.
- If there is any hole in your plastic sheet, do not use it or use duct tape to cover that hole.
- If weeds are still growing under the sheets, means your solarization is not working.
Note: Soil Solarization also have a downside. With killing weeds and pests, it can also kill beneficial organisms like earthworms.
Watch Soil Solarization Demonstration:
This is a second method to control weeds from the bottom, in case soil solarization is not working for you. In this method, you need to line the bottom of the raised bed garden before adding any soil in it. Landscape fabric is the best to line the bottom. Landscape fabric has numerous pores in it for water transportation. This kind of fabric is very long-lasting (several years) until you dig raised bed soil in a bad way. You can easily buy landscape fabric from Amazon here.
Or you can use newspaper or cardboard to make a thick layer at the bottom as a weed barrier. This is not long-lasting as landscape fabric.
If you forget to do these 2 steps during building your raised bed garden. Here are other ways to stop the growth or kill the weeds.
Mulch is the most popular way to stop weeds. Weeds need sunlight to thrive. You can use a mulch to stop the supply of sunlight for weeds. There are so many types of mulch you can use.
- Small pebbles and stones can be used as mulch, but they will not add nutrients in the soil.
- Grass Clippings are also very popular and east to available. They will also amend the garden bed soil.
- Pine straw is also a good kind of mulch. You can buy the best pine straw mulch on Amazon here.
- Pine bark mulch can also do the trick.
What if weeds find a way through your mulch?
That is a very common question regarding mulch. If you find weeds growing through your mulch, you need to add more mulch and make a thick layer. Cover the top of the soil, 2-3 inches of mulch is best.
Note: Careful when using pine straw and grass clippings. Because they can have weed seeds.
4: Wood Chips.
Wood chips are the combination of bark, sapwood, hardwood and leaves. Wood chips also act as mulch. But there are so many questions about using wood chips as mulch.
Can wood chips cause fungal infections? Can wood chips cause nitrogen depletion? The answers to these questions are yes and no.
Yes, wood chips can cause fungal infections, if you pile them against a tree or plant. Because wood chips are best to retain water. That water can cause fungal infections. So don’t pile it up.
When we talk about nitrogen depletion, only fresh wood chips can be a little problem for some time. Decomposition of fresh wood chips can cause nitrogen depletion at the surface of the soil, only for some time. That is why fresh wood chips are very efficient in suppressing the growth of seeds. It is best if you don’t use fresh wood chips around vegetable seedlings. If wood chips are not fresh, you are good to go.
5: Drip and Soaker.
You can kill the weeds by reducing their water supply and make them thirsty. According to soil experts, there is a 50-60% reduction in weed seeds germination, when they receive less water. So use drip irrigation or soaker to give water to your plants, not the weeds. You can buy the best kind of drip irrigation system for your raised bed garden on Amazon here.
6: Organic Matter.
Soil experts have no idea how it works, but if your soil is full of nutrients and organic matter, less number of weed seeds germinate. So add more compost and organic matter in your raised bed soil every year.
7: Eat The Weed.
If you have knowledge about weeds and you know 100%, you can eat them. Because there are so many weeds that grow in our raised bed with great medicinal properties.
Or you can feed them to your chickens and other animals unless they are not poisonous.
8: Cut The Head.
If the weed plants are fully grown and you can’t remove them, chopping down their heads might be a good idea. Because it can reduce the spreading of seeds in your raised bed garden. Pick a string trimmer or any equipment you have and cut down the heads to stop the spreading of weed seeds.
9: Newspaper, Cardboard & Plastic.
Pick some old newspapers magazines or cardboard you have in your home and spread them at the top of the bed soil. Add some mulch on top of the newspaper to hold it. Now make few holes in it for seeds or seedlings of your veggies. Newspaper or cardboard will cover the soil and stop the germination of weed seeds. Plus newspaper will decompose at the end of the season and add humus to the soil.
You can also use plastic instead of newspaper or cardboard as a weed barrier. But you have to remove the plastic at the end of the season.
10: Steal The Sunlight.
You can steal the sunlight of weeds by reducing the spacing between plants when sowing seeds or planting seedlings. Usually, reducing the spacing by 25% from recommendation will do the trick.
Note: If you are growing plants that are very sensitive to foliar diseases, you should avoid this practice.
There are two kinds of vinegar you can use to kill weeds. Agriculture vinegar and household vinegar. Agriculture vinegar is 15% more acidic than household.
Remember, vinegar has no idea, which plant is which. It can kill weeds as well as your veggie plants. So, only spray the vinegar on weed plants carefully using spray bottles.
Vinegar is more effective in bright sunlight. It will dehydrate the leaves of weeds under full sunlight.
12: Fire And Boiled Water.
Boiling water can be very deadly against weeds. Like vinegar, only pour the boiling water on weeds, not your plants.
You can also use targeted fire to kill weeds. A propane torch would be a great way to kill weeds using fire. But you have to be very careful using fire as a weapon. If you have anything that can catch fire, it can be problematic for you.
13: Cover Crop.
The cover crop is a crop that you grow for your soil not for yield. A cover crop can suppress the weeds, plus it will help to manage the erosion of soil and improve soil fertility. Usually cover crops grown in winter season when there is no crop to grow. You have to be very careful about a few things when using cover crops as a weed barrier.
- Select the cover crop according to season. Winter cover crop won’t work in the summer season.
- Clean your raised bed soil before sowing the seeds of cover crop.
- You need to cut down you cover crop before blooming. If it bloom, you will have to deal with a new type of weed in your garden.
Some of the best cover crops are winter rye, sunflower and sorghum.
14: Philosophy Of 10 minutes A Day.
This is the best way to take care of your garden. Spend 10 minutes each day in your garden wondering and searching for weeds, pests or other diseases. If you find any weeds, pick them with your hands or use any tool you have.
You can easily manage your raised bed gardens by spending 70 minutes each week.