If you have not understood why weeds appear in your garden in the first place, please read my blog on Why do you get Weeds in your Permaculture Garden. That will set up a good context for this article, which covers the key ways to prevent weeds in the first place.
So if you are tired of de-weeding your garden all the time, here are 5 tips from me, on how to reduce the occurrence and density of weeds in your garden.
1. Plant Cover Crops - If your plants of interest as big plants which you have to keep well spaced, then plant a cover crop on the surface. A cover crop is a short plant which runs across the soil making a carpet on it. Clover, mint, coriander - they all act as cover crops for your soil. And if you have some clover growing naturally on your soil (like we do), do yourself a favour and DO NOT remove it! It is God sent.
2. Mulch your soil - I cannot say this enough, but really this is the only way to keep down weeds and feed your soil, at the same time. Plant trees to generate enough biomass of your own to mulch. Otherwise, you may also buy wood chips from a wood chip processor in your area - if you make enquiries around the timber market, you will usually find one.
3. Do not Over Water - Very often we seem to think that we are doing our plants a favor by giving them extra water. After all, they will have moisture for another day, and that will be good for them. But overwatering results in soil panicking about being swept away or eroded. And it's reaction is to trigger weeds to hold the soil in place. So, do not overwater. Do not flood your soil. If you are farmer, this is specially relevant for you, because every watering schedule is usually followed by de-weeding - which is a big input cost for crop cultivation.
4. Do not remove the weeds - If the weeds are not competing with your plants of interest for sunlight, do not remove them. If the weeds are smaller and lower than your crop, just let them be. By removing them, you will disturb the soil, and it will produce a fresh set of weeds. Weeds do not compete for nutrients with your crop - they only compete for sun and water. If the sun is reaching your plants, let the weeds be.
So let it be, let it be (... sing the song by Beatles :-))
5. Don't De-Weed Generally - Only clear weeds when you are ready to plant something else. Do NOT remove weeds, clear the ground and leave it exposed to soil. Weeds will grow again in a vacant plot, and you will be doing the work all over again! Most gardeners spend their time de-weeding - this is a wasteful activity, and you are doing a disservice to your soil too.
So follows these tips to manage your weeds, and start making friends with them. Many weeds are useful, not just to keep the soil covered, but also because they provide flowers for the bees, or give some medicinal benefits for humans. We must acquaint ourselves with weeds.