Keeping on top of weeds

We all aspire to a beautiful, weed-free veg plot, but how on earth do you achieve that?! Here are some ideas that you may find useful:

  1. Plant through weed mesh
    This is quite a simple solution, although not the most attractive or cheapest. However, if you can do it for one season, it will make all the difference to the number of weeds you need to contend with in future years when you remove the weed mesh.

    All you need to do is lay down a strip of mesh to cover the soil in a raised bed or similar. Then, cut holes where you want to plant something and pop your seedling in the ground through the hole. The mesh will allow water through, but will block out light. Most weeds will be killed off after the first few months, and the rest can be carefully dug up at the roots when you remove the mesh.

    It works particularly well with courgettes and squash as they spread out a lot, thus covering the mesh and making everything look a bit prettier

  2. Mulch, mulch, mulch!
    This uses a similar principle to the weed mesh (technically a mulch is anything that excludes light, so really weed mesh IS a type of mulch). What you do is plant your crops as normal in a bed that has been previously weeded. After planting, water them in well and surround the base of the plants with a generous mulch – this could be, for example, a leaf mould or fresh compost. Some people use straw but we find this encourages slugs. This method has the added benefit of adding nutrients to the soil, retaining moisture in the soil and keeping the soil temperature nice and consistent.
  3. Hoe as soon as you see weed seedlings 
    The minute you see weeds popping up it’s time to hoe. Do it before they reach the size of your fingernail if you can as this will knock them out before they build up a strong root system and make it easier to (more or less) eradicate them. As they get bigger, they get harder to pull out and the root system that remains in the ground often leads to more weeds.

There will also be times when the only answer is to get involved with a handfork or trowel and carefully dig the weeds out by the roots, but hopefully by doing the above you’ll keep these moments to a minimum!