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Kitchen Gardening

Pre-Sprouting As Spring Weed Control

The good news is that weeds can be outsmarted. Ve have our vays.

Don't be fooled. Spring weeds are the enemy. Photo by Jenny Downing under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

They’ve become masters at stealing water, robbing nutrients, and generally taking over gardens since we figured out organized cultivation. They show up as both aggressive annuals and persitsnat perennials. Weeds can reproduce by seed, stolon, and root pieces. The good news is that weeds can be outsmarted. Ve have our vays.

Pre-Sprouting Weeds

One of the techniques for getting many springtime weeds out of the way right from the start is to let them sprout (often called pre-sprouting). That’s right – invite them in, offer them some coffee. Encourage them to show themselves early on in the season; then, ‘Whack! Off with their heads!” This weed control style is at its best in a vegetable garden. Pre-sprouting can be used for beds in the ground, as well as in raised beds.

Simply plant your attack by acting like you’re getting the garden bed ready to plant. Get this garden together well before you actually plan on planting vegetables for the season, say about four weeks before your true planting schedule. Add whatever amendments you’d normally put into the garden bed such as compost, garden soil, whatever. Rake the bed so it’s smooth and really inviting. Then water it regularly. It’ll only take a couple of weeks for tiny, weed heads to sprout.

These first weeds are typically annuals, but anything can show up at this point. When they’ve grown around 2″ tall, take a flat or stirrup hoe and knock them all down by scraping the soil at their feet. While the first pre-sprouting will give you an advantage, you might as well water the bed again and let more rise – just so you can take them down again. Whacking pre-sprouted weeds won’t rid you of trouble entirely, but it’s a terrific head start.

More on weed control…
Managing weeds with a light touch (part 1)
Managing weeds with a light touch (part 2)

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