Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Weeding the Garden

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Pulling hundreds if not thousands of tiny weeds and seedlings would take all season

By late spring my gardens are full of tiny weeds like clover, knotweed and spurge, as well as hundreds and hundreds of seedlings from self seeding plants and sprouts from spreading plants.  It would take all summer to pull each one individually.  So how to get rid of them?

Weeding out seedlings, sprouts and tiny weeds

I like to take care of the garden weed problem before I put down my summer mulch.  There is always some mulch still thinly covering the garden so you may want to start by raking or just pushing the mulch aside, but it is not necessary.

The weeds and seedlings like to hide under your established plants too, so be sure to peak underneath so they get taken care of before they take over.

Weeding out sprouts and tiny weeds under plants

Now just use a hand fork to cultivate the soil and uproot the weeds. This should be done when the soil is moist, but not dry or wet.  Cultivating weeds out will not work well at all in either condition.  If it is too dry the soil will not loosen easily with shallow cultivation and the roots will not be dislodged.  Wet soil will just clump together in muddy wads.
Tiny weeds, seedlings and sprouts are uprooted with a hand fork

Take care around plants not to disturb the roots.  If some of your plants have surface roots it is best to  hand pluck the weeds and seedlings out rather than damage the roots.  You should not have to cultivate deep enough to disturb most roots.  You just need to loosen the surface soil if you have not allowed the weeds and seedlings to root deeply.

Cultivate out tiny weeds and sprouts with a hand fork

Most of the weeds and seedlings will pull right out of the soil with light cultivation and be laying on top of the soil.  Scoop up the debris with your hand or use a small hand rake to gather them up to dispose of.

Gather uprooted weeds and seedlings that have been uprooted

Once debris is cleaned up, do further cultivation until the majority of the weeds are removed.  Uprooted weeds can also be left laying on the soil surface where they will die.  There will usually be a few tiny weeds and seedlings left behind but once covered with mulch they will likely smother.  Pluck out any larger or more stubborn weeds that don’t get uprooted.

Pluck out larger stubborn weeds

Ready for summer mulch!  The few seedlings left behind that are not smothered by the new mulch can be quickly plucked out by hand if they poke through the mulch.  There should just be a few here and there, easily managed by hand.

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