By Jessica Pittman, Clemson University
Weeds compete with vegetables for water, nutrients and light, making it important for them to be removed before they have matured.
They also harbor insects and diseases, which may then spread to vegetables.
The most common weeds found in the garden can be divided into summer annuals, winter annuals, and perennials. Summer annuals are weeds that germinate in spring or early summer and flower in the summer or fall.
This is the most common type of weed found in the garden. Winter annuals are weeds that germinate in fall and flower in the spring.
These weeds are often present at the time the garden soil is prepared in the spring prior to planting.
Weeds in this category are generally not as troublesome in the garden as summer annuals.
Herbaceous perennial weeds can be especially difficult to manage in a garden.
These plants are killed back to the ground by a hard frost and overwinter through underground plant parts, such as tubers or rhizomes.
Tilling the garden may spread these weeds by fragmenting and moving root pieces.
Each of the root pieces may develop into a complete plant. Hand-pulling works for small gardens and raised beds, but a hoe is critical for larger gardens. Cut off weeds just below the soil surface with a sharp hoe.
Hoeing must be shallow because most vegetable roots are near the soil surface and can be easily damaged.
Manual and powered rotary cultivators are usually unable to turn under weeds close to vegetable plants without damaging the vegetables. Hand-pulling or hoeing are best for removing weeds near vegetable plants.
After removing weeds from the garden, apply mulch to control later germinating weeds. Mulches can be the easiest and most effective way to control annual weeds in the garden and may also suppress perennial weeds.
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