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Don’t Make Your Veggies Compete With Weeds

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Gardeners spend hours selecting the seeds, preparing the soil, digging the rows, planting seeds and watering them regularly. Controlling the weeds is an important step to ensure a bountiful garden.


Why are weeds such a problem? They rob vegetables of water, light and valuable nutrients. Weeds also harbor pests and diseases, along with nematodes, that can wreak havoc on vegetable plants and reduce yield.


Avoiding weeds in the beginning is the best solution and starting with good soil preparation is the key. This helps to eliminate weeds before they even begin to grow. Gardeners can save some aching back muscles by eliminating most weeds from the get-go.


If weeds are discovered in the garden, mulching, hoeing and hand-weeding can be used to control them. When weeds are being controlled, gardeners eliminate any problems that may arise from using herbicides on the plants in an effort to get rid of the weeds. Also, making sure the soil is warm enough will help the plants to grow rapidly.


Gardeners in rural areas typically have ample space in which to garden. If this is the case, be sure to leave enough space between rows to allow room for cultivating equipment.


Cultivation and hoeing should be done when weeds are small because weeds compete with the crops for light, water and essential nutrients. If allowed to grow large, weeds can be difficult to remove without accidentally damaging the crops. Cultiva­tion and hoeing should be done shallowly to avoid injury to the root system of the crop plants. Hand-weeding in the crop row is usually necessary at some point of the growing season.


If the weed situation does call for herbicides, keep in mind weed control in the home garden may be difficult because of the variety of crops being grown in the garden. It is hard to find an herbicide that is selective enough to remove a specific weed without the potential or probability that it will also kill or damage some of the crops in the garden.


With several types of plants located close together in a small area, some may be seriously damaged by any herbicide a gardener chooses to use. However, there are a few formulations available now that do make them safer and easier to use. Be sure to follow label directions and avoid using the spray on a windy day. Visit with experts at the Oklahoma State University Extension county office or the local garden center for guidance on current pre-emergence herbicide products.

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