I hate to brag but… I am an expert at growing weeds. I don’t even have to work at it, I just wake up and they are there. I’m not talking about the occasional stray weed or grass that finds it’s way among the tomatoes. I’m talking about an entire garden bed full of unwanted ground cover. I was reluctant to share this picture and write this post because as a gardener it’s embarrassing. But sometimes life happens and you have to start over in the garden.
Sadly this will be my second summer without any veggies planted in our raised beds. Last year we had some remnants of herbs and strawberries from the year before that filled 2 of the raised beds. We didn’t plant anything new last spring because we knew that we would be traveling and dealing with some family issues.
Sometimes Life Happens
Our 17-year-old son had recently been diagnosed with scoliosis. At that time we were doing everything that we could to avoid surgery. He is a competitive baseball player and was going into his Junior year so our main goal was for him to still be able to play ball. Alternative methods weren’t working and his scoliosis was progressing quickly. We were fortunate to have found a groundbreaking procedure called Anterior Scoliosis Correction. We traveled to New Jersey to have the surgery performed in September. Our son was playing baseball in March.
Life was a whirlwind of traveling to find the right doctor. Fundraising to help pay for the surgery. As well as everyday life. So working in the garden was not even on our minds, much less on our to-do list. We decided that we would just start over in the spring.
It’s Spring, now what?
Spring brought baseball and a lot of indifference toward the garden. We love having fresh food that we grew ourselves, but after the year that we had just lived a garden didn’t seem that important. So we began to clean out the beds but didn’t plant anything again. Our goal this spring was to repair the chicken coop and get the garden ready for the fall. That is where we are at today in the hot month of June. We removed all of the grass and weeds from the beds last month. And this is what they look like now. We grew weeds!Download a free Spring Garden Checklist
Are you an expert too?
There is no shame in losing control of your garden. The most important thing is to pull the weeds and start over. The question is, “how do you keep the weeds out?” Three of these beds were completely free of grass and weeds 3 weeks ago. They are the ones with the bright green flourishing crabgrass. I know as soon as I pull it out, more is going to grow in its place. So I am going to experiment with some different ways to keep the unused garden beds free of weeds and grass.
The updated results are at the end of the post.
How to stop growing weeds
I will choose a different method for each bed and let you know what works and what doesn’t. First will pull the weeds and grass out of the 3 that were clean 3 weeks ago because they aren’t deeply rooted. The others are going to take some work to get everything out of them but it’s got to be done at some point.
Here are the methods that I am planning to use:
- Black landscaping fabric
- Wood Shavings/Mulch
All 3 methods involve blocking sunlight to the seeds to prevent them from sprouting. The chosen method will be the one that blocks the light most effectively with the least amount of cost.
I put the black landscaping fabric on 5 of the 7 raised beds because it was the easiest and seems like it might be the best option. There was already a roll of fabric left over from the original installation of the beds laying around so it didn’t cost me any additional money.
I covered 1 raised bed with mulch that we had left over from mulching the trees. To cover the bed I used about 1 1/2 bags so my total cost was $5.50.
I had planned on covering the last raised bed with cardboard, however, I ended up putting a piece of plywood that was laying around from the construction of the chicken coop. It doesn’t cover the sides of the bed but it will block out enough sun to keep the weeds from growing. I was also concerned with keeping the cardboard weighted down enough with the Oklahoma wind. I kept singing our state song, “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.”
My main goal was to keep the sunlight out to keep the weeds and grass from sprouting. I have achieved that for now and I did it with materials that I already had on hand. So I think it’s been a positive project.
Hopefully my knack for growing weeds is gone and I can move on to growing something that my family can eat!
Update in July
I have cleaned out the grass and weeds and covered all of the beds. It’s funny but when I looked out and saw weeds and grass growing it was almost more appealing than when I look out now. Now there is NOTHING and I’m contemplating trying to plant a few vegetables in 1 of the beds. The average daily temperature is about 93 right now so it’s probably a long shot but it’s worth it just to see something growing in the garden.
Update in August
All three methods are doing a pretty good job of keeping the weeds out. They will find a way anywhere possible. You can see above that the weeds are growing at the edges of the landscape fabric. Below there are a few weeds in the mulched bed. However, it only took a few minutes to clean this bed out because that is actually only 4 weeds, they just fan out. Overall, I’m very pleased with the result of all three methods. The plywood was not effective simply because it wasn’t the correct size and left too much exposed soil. I am going to remove it and cover that bed with landscape fabric.
Well at least the raised beds are free from weeds. If you are going to garden without harmful sprays you are just going to have to get used to pulling weeds. This really wasn’t as bad as it looked because they were the weeds that fan out. So when you pull it out from the root you clear a large area in a short amount of time.