While you’re savoring the second most enjoyable time in the garden — planting season (harvesting would be our number one) — here’s a reminder about the least enjoyable garden practice: Weeding. The earlier you start, the better. In fact, good garden weeding practice involves getting them before weeds even make themselves seen.
Over at Mort Mather’s “Happy Blog” there’s a post on the ten day weeding program. Basically, Mather suggests cultivating between rows and around plants 10 days after planting. He suggests you’ll get weeds when they’re just threads, before they start sending out spreading roots. Repeat the process again in another ten days. He claims to get 80% of the weeds using this technique. What he doesn’t say is where certain gardeners, like myself, will find the discipline to cultivate 10 days after each planting (or the smarts to keep count).
One of our favorite gardening writers, Lee Reich — he’s a PhD for turnips sake! — recommends killing weeds with… Vinegar? Vinegar. Here’s how to use it as an early season weed killer. Add one tablespoon dish detergent and two tablespoons cooking oil to one gallon of white or cider vinegar. Spray any young weeds when temperatures are above 70 degrees. You can safely spray again in one week. Don’t overdo it–vinegar is an acid and too much may have a negative “microclimate” effect on soil. Here’s a full Reich-authored article on creating the weedless organic garden… worth considering even this early in the growing season.