To Weed or Not to Weed

My vote is NOT to weed. Not a fan. I guess I don’t mind picking a few weeds here and there, but it gets away from me so fast! I’ve been good about wedding my raised beds in my vegetable garden, but the pathways… Ugh. I’m too embarrassed to post a picture of what these looked like when I planted my garden a few weeks ago!

This is after I took out some of the weeds. All of the area around the raised beds looked like this.

But at the same time, I don’t want to use a bunch of harsh chemicals on the weeds. Especially around my vegetable and herb gardens. No thanks.

My lovely vegetable garden:  No weeds allowed!

So… I looked up natural ways to get rid of weeds. Here’s what I found…

1. Newspaper covered with grass clippings
2. Vinegar and water solution (what doesn’t vinegar take care of!)
3. Boiling water
4. Bleach (isn’t this a harsh chemical?)
5. Salt
6. Corn gluten meal
7. Mulch
8. Pull them up (this is what I’m trying to avoid!)
9. Plant competing plants
10. Use a hoe

I decided to try the first three, because they were cheap and fast. I sectioned my garden pathways off and did a little experiment.

1.  Newspaper Covered with Grass Clippings
This was one that my mom used to do in some of her gardens… but that was back when I didn’t want anything to do with gardening so I have no idea how it worked.
Pros:  very easy to do, you don’t see any of the weeds, makes a nice area to walk on (especially after the rain), will decompose and fertilize my soil (not hugely important since it’s the walkway, but a nice perk), could be used around new plants to do less weeding overall
Cons:  not sure the weeds are dying, weeds are growing along the side of the raised beds

 First application (The grass clipping went down the next day)

 A few days later

 Weeds growing along the edges of the beds

 After 2 weeks

2.  Vinegar and Water Solution
I use vinegar to do most of my cleaning, so there was a spray bottle all ready to go. My solution ended up being 3/4 vinegar to 1/4 water. This is stronger than what I usually use to clean, but I really wanted those weeds dead.
Pros:  already had the supplies, could just spray single weeds
Cons: didn’t really work (weeds are still growing even a few days later), spraying that area made my hand really tired

 First application (that’s my water/vinegar bottle)

 A few days later

 After 2 weeks

3.  Boiling Water

This one was totally new to me.  I got out both of my dutch ovens and my stock pot and went to town. Tip #1:  don’t do this on a day that’s over 90. It really makes the kitchen hot (wahoo for air conditioning!).
Pros:   just needed water, could see results almost immediately, many of the weeds didn’t come back a few days later (but… see the cons), good use of cooking water
Cons:  heating up the kitchen, carrying full pots of water out to the back garden was a little difficult (thankfully, I didn’t spill any on me), can’t be used in areas that you want to keep all of the plants, some new weeds started growing back a few days later (but lots fewer), shriveling weeds don’t look that great

 Boiling the water

 First application

 A few days later

 After 2 weeks (the green on the left side is the lawn)

The verdict:  I think next time I’ll use a combination. I’ll pour the boiling water on round one of the weeds and then cover with newspaper and grass clippings. Even though the newspaper wasn’t the most effective way, I like having the covering over the bare dirt. Next spring, I’ll probably use the boiling water to clear my beds of all the winter weeds and then give it a few days before I start planting. Regardless… it means I’m not pulling weeds or using all sorts of chemicals by my food. Happy day!

Sources:, “How to Get Rid of Weeds the Natural Way,”  “Eight Ways to Get Rid of Weeds in Your Yard and Garden

1 Comment

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One response to “To Weed or Not to Weed

  1. Pingback: Starting the Garden | a project at a time

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