“Pulling weeds can be a pain. Literally...it’s a drain on your time and energy. Is it even worth it to pull weeds?"
Reformation Acres 2020
Waterloo Horticultural Society member Heather Kelly says, "The answer is YES! While it’s tempting to tell ourselves that weeds are natural, that lots of them can be eaten or used for medicine, even that they aren’t a big deal, they are a problem in the vegetable garden. We need to keep on top of them so they don’t get on top of us (and the plants we want).
It’s always helpful to use the right tool - it’s tough work to pull them out by hand but a hoe works wonders. Of course, sometimes life gets in the way; we have emergencies or things just come up that prevent us from getting to the garden regularly. If these things happen, it can be helpful to arrange for someone to visit your garden while you’re away. It’s important to remember that the weeds in our gardens will quickly become the weeds in our neighbours’ gardens.
Vegetable garden plots tend to be on the small side, resulting in intensive planting (planting crops close together). Given that the plants must share nutrients, why invite weeds to the banquet? We want our vegetables to benefit from the available nutrients in the soil.
Weeds also compete for water and sunlight; they are quite aggressive and grow more quickly than the plants we carefully put in the ground. If they are allowed to grow, they can block the sunlight that our vegetables need. At the same time, they are using up water which, more and more, is becoming a precious resource. In addition, they can actually reduce pollination of the plants we want because the pollinators find enough food in the flowering weeds.
We can easily see the space taken up by weeds above ground but they also claim plenty of underground real estate. The root systems can be extensive and the result is less space for the plants we want to spread their roots.
In our area, the invasive grass
is found in nearly every garden; it is known by various common names: couch grass, quackgrass, twitch. This grass contains what are known as allelopathic compounds, chemicals that create a zone around their roots that is hostile to other plants and prevents their growth. So, not pulling out the twitch or
can actually hurt our vegetable plants.
It is estimated that quackgrass can absorb approximately 55%, 45%, and 68% of the total nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, respectively, available for plant use…[d]ue to its highly competitive nature, quackgrass can effectively reduce crop yields by as much as 25% to 85%.
is just one example of the weeds
competing with our vegetables; let’s ‘root’ them out so we can, literally, enjoy the fruits of our labours in the community gardens.
Stay tuned for the at home gardening tips in the next edition!