Weeding

Did you say “weeds”?   

Practically all of our fruits and vegetables come from weeds, and a significant percentage of our medicines are based on these wild plants. We call all plants that grow in a place we do not want them to “weeds”! It would actually be more accurate to refer to them as “unwanted plants”. 

Adopting a differentiated management approach in the garden

Weeding is often a concern, and a chore, so here is some advice as to how to keep your garden as “weed-free" as possible, without spending hours of work on it.
The layout of one’s garden, the size of one’s flowerbeds and vegetable garden, and the choice of vegetables grown there must be carefully considered in light of the time you are able to dedicate to maintaining these. Nature doesn’t do well with empty spaces, so any uninhabited spaces will quickly be colonised by plants: leaving it up to the gardener to control where this occurs, or avoid this natural colonisation altogether, by filling the empty land up with their own desired plants, or laying down mulch. But nothing prevents gardeners from offering Mother Nature a few square meters: these spaces will become a refuge for many garden allies and will add an original touch to the garden, creating a contrast with the maintained spaces: this is the essence of "differentiated management".

Taking action at the right time 

Don't just leave weeds, always be sure to deal with them well before they go to seed, because they have an incredible ability to multiply. 
The critical months in the northern hemisphere are March, April, May and June. The edges of flowerbeds and vegetable patches can be protected against weeds by edging forming a physical barrier that hampers their invasion (especially against buttercups, creepers and grasses). Regular turning over of the beds will ensure you keep up with the workload, while this also saves you watering time: “One soil turnover equals two watering sessions”.

Some tips on how to keep weeding to a minimum

  • In an ornamental garden 

Perennials should be planted the right distance away from each other so that they occupy the entire surface of the flowerbed when established. 
Some plants have the ability to cover the ground very quickly. Some examples include: nasturtiums, aurinia, small bamboo, bergenias, barberry, burning bushes, many dwarf conifers such as creeping juniperus, campanulae, California lilac, dogwood, creeping cotoneasters, Armenian cranesbill, ivy, creeping marjoram, St. John's wort, periwinkle, vinca minor, white cinquefoil, creeping rosebushes, creeping rosemary, ornamental bramble, rockfoils, sedum, thyme and valerian.

  • In the vegetable garden

Associated crops help to cover the soil almost completely between rows of vegetables,   preventing weeds from taking up root there.
Quick-growing vegetables allow for the open soil between the rows of slower-growing crops to be planted up, such as, for example, radishes planted alongside carrots, peas or even tomato plants. 

  • Organic fertilisers

Apart from the many advantages they offer a vegetable garden, they prevent weeds from growing in the physical spaces left between two crops.
Clean out crops have the effect of limiting weeds owing to their ability to cover and compete and/or because of the growing practices they require. 
Here are some examples: phacelia and buckwheat are two organic fertilisers that have a cleaning effect on soil overrun by couch grass and other weeds, while the practice of hilling for potatoes or hoeing for beetroot and cabbage also has a clean out effect.