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March 2008
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Tip on controlling weeds

Q. I have a question about controlling weeds in my garden. Unfortunately, I live 45 miles away from my garden, so it gets weedy very quickly. I was thinking about putting straw on top of the soil to keep the weeds down. Have any of you used this before? Any
other suggestions?
I need to keep it low maintenance because I sometimes go one to two weeks without weeding. I heard woods chips will rob the soil of nitrogen, so I’m avoiding that type of mulch. I’ve also heard about Preen, but I don’t want to use that near my vegetables.


The down side of weeding is that there is about a 25 year supply of weed seeds in the soil so when you pull/ hoe the visible weeds away you are bringing fresh weed seeds into the grow zone. Preen is a Petro chemical seed inhibitor and it travels in the soil and hence into the water table. I would suggest Corn Gluten instead it provides the same activity as the Preen and as it wanes converts into a low grade nitrogen fertilizer. So that in combination with Oat straw should help you considerably. Do not use wheat or Alfalfa Straw as it contains weed seeds in it for it is made from a third or forth cutting and the seeds of the previous 2 or 3 cuttings along with the weed seeds are incorporated into the bales. They are designed for Bedding of livestock and shouldn’t be in the garden unless they have been composted at a high temp exceeding 180 degrees to kill the seeds.

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