Weeding Out: 5 Tips to Maintain Your Veggie Garden (And Your Sanity!)

Veggie gardens are a source of nutrition and enjoyment, but when it comes to maitnenance and weeding, it can be real work. Many vegetables and herbs are also host plants for caterpillars and bring in the pollinators, which increases the harvest.

Dill weed is one important plant for butterflies that you may have growing in your veggie garden. From host plants, where butterflies lay eggs, to nectar plants, weeds are essential for healthy habitat. One definition of a "weed" is a plant growing in the wrong place, so even the most well behaved plant could be labeled a "weed" when it is out of place.

So, how can you maintain your veggie garden without going crazy? When you have plants growing in the wrong place, here are 5 ways to help keep the weeds from creeping in and crowding out what you are trying to grow:  

  1. Don't leave the roots behind. When you weed, be sure to pull from the root and remove it completely. If you only yank the leaves, the weeds will grow back. Grab the weed close to the ground and pull straight up. The weeds and roots should come out. 
  2. Weed when the ground is moist. After a rainfall, you will find it easier to weed. Be careful not to compact the soil by walking on it. If you can't reach it, walk on a board to help distribute your weight. If there is a dry spell, water your garden and pull after it's wet. 
  3. Weed often. Keep a trowel or garden fork nearby when you head outside. If you attack weeds as soon as you spot them, they won't have time to take over your garden.
  4. Use mulch. Mulch is helps retain surface moisture and helps keep weeds from germinating. 
  5. Space plants according to their tags. Don't leave a lot of extra space in between plants where weeds can move in. Mulch unused areas to prevent growth. 

Weeding is a daunting task, but it must be done. Maintaining a garden requires work. If you stay on top of the weeds, you will enjoy gardening a lot more. Weed for a few minutes every day or every other day instead of dedicating a whole weekend to it. You will find it less taxing, and your back will thank you for it. 

And, don't forget to leave a wild space with plenty of weeds like milkweed, joe-pye weed, dill weed and more near your garden space. You will bring in the pollinators and enjoy a more bountiful harvest.