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We have about a 1/2 acre garden. It has been just overrun with all kinds of monster weeds and creeping grasses, and I have not been able to keep up with it. I have hand cultivated and tilled between rows but I don't have time to cover a 1/2 acre every day or two, which is what it would have taken to fight off these weeds.

I have chosen a certain section of my garden to keep weeded from here on out, and the rest has been taken over. The part of the garden I have stopped weeding now has weeds about waist-high and I'm sure it is a complete loss at this point.

I also started out the year trying to weedeat the entire area *around* the garden, that also fell to the wayside. Just not enough time in my day to do it all.

I want to know what I can do different next year, and where all these weeds came from...we had a garden last year but not nearly this much weeds :shrug: It is a jungle. I am thinking about just not growing any fall/winter crops this year, and burning the entire thing once the summer crops die down. Will that kill it all?

I don't know what else to do. The only information I have been able to find just says if I had cultivated early on, I shouldn't have weeds like this. Well, I did, and I do :Bawling:
 

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We mulch our 1/2 acre of garden as soon as possible after planting. We use layers of newspaper covered with hay, stray, grass clippings, and leaves. Then we pull all the weeds that grow up around plants, etc.

Every time you till the soil, you are bringing up old weed seeds and encouraging them to germinate. It takes years to deplete the reservoir of weed seeds in a garden area, and not all weed seeds will germinate in one or two or even 5 years. We use a regular hoe and an old wheel hoe and a "Ro-Ho" to control small weeds if we didn't get an area mulched as soon as we intended.

A Ro-Ho is similar to this:
http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=4462&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=832&iSubCat=833&iProductID=4462
My wheel cultivator is like this, but an old one:
http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=136&itemType=PRODUCT&iProductID=136

Basically, you need to get the weeds when they are small (or before they even break the ground), and then m ulch thoroghly to prevent more weeds from germinating. I find that the real benefit of the mulch is that we don't have to water our garden, except when planting, or if we have a month without rain, so it saves lots of labor, water, and crops in the long run. I think that we have had to water some of our crops in 1988 and again last year, 2006--otherwise mulching has helped keep the moisture in the soil.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah...we knew that mulching was what we *needed* to do, but it seemed like a huge area to cover and we didn't know an affordable source for that much mulch. We just don't have any grass clippings or that many leaves here...we have weeds...and some pinestraw...

Where do you get yours?
 

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I had weeds this year the size of small trees it seemed like. We cleared them out and tilled the ground up again for fall planting. On one section of the garden we laid black plastic down and I am going to cut slits in it and plant. My sisters mother-n-law does that and she has a nice garden with no weeds.
 

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I am having the same problem here in Iowa. We've had cycles of hot dry weather and high winds followed by days of heavy rain. I figured the conditions were conducive for causing a lot of weed seed to blow around and then germinating from the rain. Mulching hasn't slowed it down. The weeds are just growing in the mulch. If I get them right away they come up easily. If they get a few days to grow they are getting roots into the soil and are a bear to pull out. I hope this is just a freak year and not the start of some sort of new growing cycle for more prolific weeds.
 

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STILL not Alice
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Mulch is available in so many ways. It's a matter of being creative.

Since I started leaving the grass clippings on the lawn every other mow, I found that shredded paper is a good mulch. Junk mail, shred from the office, and newspaper are all good sources of paper mulch. If you don't feel like shredding the paper, you can lay it down and use a bit of dirt to hold it in place. (Works well with newsprint.)

We also glean leaves and grass clippings from neighbors. People throw away the silliest things! If you live near a suburban subdivision, a quick pass of the neighborhood the night before garbage pickup can net you some seriously good mulch and compost material!

BTW, chop up those weeds (get them before they go to seed) and use THEM for mulch, too!

Pony!
 

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Any way to run some chickens in the garden for the winter/spring??? Works wonders. Also you can lay the weeds that you pull up into paths and such to act as mulch. Try the local newspaper, they will generally have rolls of newprint for free or cheap. Also try a local tree service for woodchips for your paths, out here they drop off a 4 tonne dump for free and keep coming until you tell them to stop....just tell them no cedar chips.

corry
 

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Pony said:
BTW, chop up those weeds (get them before they go to seed) and use THEM for mulch, too!
Yep - that's what I was going to suggest! Use the weeds against themselves! I don't bother chopping them up, I just pull them, then lay down a handfull with the roots all pointing the same way, pull another handfull, and lay them down with their roots overlapping the green part of the previous handful, and so on. That way, the roots can't easily re-root themselves and are all consistently exposed to air and sun and the green parts are partly covered to hinder any photosynthesis they might try to accomplish, and they DIE. [strongbad <----Never thought I'd ever use that smilie, but there's no devil smiley, soooo....

This works real well when the weeds have gotten large so you get a lot of bulk to mulch with. Also, pulling those big weeds out gives you a much bigger sense of accomplishment - kinda like cleaning a filthy house as opposed to dusting a well-kept house. Don't ask me how I know this... :rolleyes:
 

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I get spoiled hay and straw, sometimes, from farmers in the area. I pick up leaves in town in the fall (already raked and bagged, but there are other folks out there picking them up, too). I cut hay on an acre or two of our fields that used to be horse pasture, rake it by hand, and haul it to the garden. I cut it as I need it, usually haul it the next day. We rake up most of the clippings from the lawn. The local landfill has wood chips in the spring, but they go fast. I use them around berries and trees in the orchard. We are always looking for materials suitable for mulch.
 

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Letting the weeds go to seed and then burning everything will get rid of a lot of future problems but there will still be weeds coming. The best thing will be to get rid of as much as possible right now-mow, disc, pull up, till. Whatever you can do. I think you have a good plan to concentrate on one area and save what you can.
As far as cultivating early and all its help: you have to keep on cultivating because each cultivation is likely to cause some new weeds to germinate. Keep on cultivating and killing those young weed seedlings.
 

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I just mulched my garden with grass clippings. How do you, those who choose to use shredded newspaper, do it without the paper blowing away? Sorry for the thread drift.
 

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This is going to probably be considered heresy... but I would suggest that next year... you do not plant such a huge garden. You state several times that you do not have enough hours in the day to manage this large of a planting. So next time... make it 1/4 or less of what you planted this year and manage that area more intensely.

Good suggestions provided by the other posters as well.
 

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many of the mennonite farmers nearby use black plastic between the rows to help with weed control and also to warm the soil for early planting. a friend of mine uses it in as much of his 1/4 acre garden as he can and his garden looks awesome.
 

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For mulching around plants, I use straw and hay. For paths between beds, I use thick layers of newspaper laid down and buried under a few inches of wood shavings and manure from horse stables (they usually give it away free)...then I rake out most of the manure and use that in my compost. The remaining shavings make a nice path to walk on and the weeds that sprout around the edges are easy to pull because the ground is so moist and they are growing in a soft medium. I also get bags of wood shavings for free from my BIL who is a furniture maker.
 

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Till, or cultivate when the weeds are just giving that green carpet look, then lay newspaper sheets with 4-6" mulch on top makes for some work up front but saves many hours throughtout the year.

Water deliberately, soaker hoses next to stalks for tight growing row crops, and whatever method you can afford, to water individual plants that are spread out more, and mulch as you get materials. Broad watering methods just help the weeds grow, keep the ground dry where the weeds might grow and there will be less.

I have found that mulching without some sort of barrier down first requires much more mulch, but the barrier, even a few sheets of newspaper really cut down on the required thickness of mulch.
 
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