Weeds make it hard to garden and grow produce; they compete for nutrients in the soil and their rapid growth takes over quickly. When weeds take over, there are less nutrients for your crops and you won’t get a high yield.
Getting rid of weeds isn’t always easy. Depending on the size of your growing area, weeding by hand could take hours, if not days. If you’re looking for weed management methods to improve your crop yield, check out these tips for some great ideas.
1. Use a surfactant with your weed killer
If you’re not opposed to using chemical weed killers, using a surfactant will help improve the efficacy of your weed killer. For example, Sun Wet is a weed management adjuvant used in large-scale agricultural settings to control weeds before they mature and proliferate out of control. Adjuvants increase the amount of herbicide weeds absorb, which also reduces the amount of herbicide that soaks into the soil.
There are many weed killers on the market, and regardless of which one you use, an adjuvant will help improve crop yield by enhancing the biological activity of your herbicide. When you can kill weeds before they have a chance to grow out of control, your crops will get more of the nutrients in the soil, and your crops will be more abundant – not the weeds.
2. Make a natural weed killer at home
When you’re tired of digging up weeds, your only other option is to use a weed killer. However, if you don’t want to use a commercial chemical-based weed killer, your only remaining option is to make a natural weed killer at home.
There are several recipes for homemade weed killer that use vinegar as a main ingredient. The most basic recipe is adding 1 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap to 1 gallon of white vinegar.
Vinegar contains acetic acid, which pulls moisture out of the weeds. Dish soap is a gentle surfactant that will help the vinegar work better. When spraying your homemade weed killer, surface tension can cause droplets to collect on the leaves. The soap, acting as a surfactant, will reduce the surface tension on the leaves and prevent droplets from forming. This will aid in getting the weeds to absorb more of the weed killer.
There are two downsides to using homemade weed killer. First, you’ll need to apply it routinely. Vinegar-based weed killer doesn’t attack the root systems of weeds like chemical weed killer. Second, vinegar will kill everything, so you need to be extra careful not to spray the plants you want to keep.
3. Apply homemade vinegar-based weed killer on a warm, sunny day
The time of day you apply homemade weed killer matters. While you technically can apply weed killer anytime and see results, you’ll get the best results when it’s warm outside. Since vinegar-based weed killer draws moisture out of the plants, the sun will help speed up this process, and you will see weeds wither and die within hours.
4. Cover soil with plastic off-season
You work hard to prepare your soil with the right level of nutrients. The last thing you want is for weeds to take over and absorb those nutrients after you’ve harvested your crops. If that happens, you’ll need to do even more work for next season.
To preserve the nutrients in your soil while you’re not growing crops, cover the soil with plastic to deprive weeds of oxygen and light. Use black plastic garbage bags for the best results.
5. Cut off the heads of your weeds to prevent seeding
When you have too many weeds to dig up by hand, and you don’t want to use any kind of weed killer, you can cut off the heads to prevent seeds from spreading around. It won’t help with existing weeds, but it will help prevent the spread.
You can cut off the heads even if you do use weed killer. Depending on how many weeds you’re dealing with, it might be worth walking around to collect the heads in a basket.
Some weeds are useful
It’s a good idea to eliminate the number of plants competing for nutrients. However, some weeds are useful, like dandelions and stinging nettle. Before you kill off all your weeds, check to see if they’re useful somehow. If you can, harvest some of the weeds that provide nutrition or medicinal benefits and then kill off the rest.