Mulching Is the Secret of Keeping Weeds at Bay

I’ve had a real problem with weeds popping up in my veggie beds this year. I don’t know if it was the record jungle boys weed cold winter we had down here in Louisiana that had something to do with it, but the weeds have burst through the ground early and keeps showing up like sin itself. I’ve never seen anything like it. That and the ants, but that’s another article. I’ve been hoeing with my stirrup hoe regularly, way too regularly I might add, but they just keep coming back.

So I’m going smother those bad boys with an old trick I use to use in my decorative landscaping. That would be mulch. I’ve used mulch before in flower beds to great effect in keeping weeds at bay, but the kind of mulch I used- wood chips-I don’t want in my veggie beds. As the wood decomposes, it will rob the soil of nutrients, and make planting often in the veggie beds problematic with the changing seasons. I micro farm year ’round, and I don’t want to have to deal with chunks of wood getting between me and the soil.

There are different types of mulch I could use. Pine straw or hay come to mind, but I would have to actually buy those, and being the cheap kinda guy that I am, I balk at that. So what can I do? What’s cheap-heck, free would be even better- that I can use? That would be grass clippings. One of my lifelong goals has been to completely eliminate any and all grass from my yard. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to put in a parking lot. Just use what space I now have growing grass to someday grow organic food; oh, and not spend my time cutting grass. Jeez Louise, I hate cutting grass.

I suppose it comes from having to do it my entire freaking life. “Get out there and cut that grass!”; the weekly mantra from my dad. And I may still follow the plan of getting rid of the grass, but for now, I’m having second thoughts. Ordinarily, I put the grass clippings in my ComposTumbler, spin it daily and-presto, fresh plant food for free. But I’ve decided to start using the grass clippings to keep the weeds down in the veggie beds and, as an added bonus, keep the moisture in the soil longer. Win win. The only thing you really need to pay attention to are grass and weed seed-heads. If they grow in your yard too long, they can mature enough to become viable, and by putting them around your veggies, you’ve just introduced your yard seeds to your veggie beds. And back to weeding. Again.

So I am going to mow on a more regular schedule, before the grass and whatever weeds that are growing in my yard have a chance to form seeds-stopping the cycle before it begins-and use it as a mulch to keep the weeds down in the veggie beds. One thing you do need to know. Green grass that is piled up too high can produce heat, which could conceivably cook your veggie plants. I pile it up about three inches high, and cover all of the exposed soil. I found that if you plant things like squash or okra, they will eventually get so big and dense they block the sunlight out, naturally keeping the weeds down. But until that happens, the weeds have a more than fighting chance to sink their evil claws in the soil. So I will start this practice early in the Spring and continue until the grass stops growing for the year.

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