If your vegetable garden has gotten a little overgrown or you have just taken over a new allotment then you will need to know how to clear those weeds.
So this is my way of clearing an overgrown vegetable garden that has ended up full to the brim with weeds.
This might not be the way for everyone to do it, but it is what works for me.
And after taking over numerous allotments as well as working as a gardener I have plenty of experience in clearing veg patches!
I love no-dig gardening due to its ease and how well vegetables grow with this style of gardening.
What no-dig gardening essentially means is you don’t turn over the soil. So you won’t get rid of the weeds by coming in with a spade or fork and digging up all the soil.
So how does this work then? How do you get rid of the weeds if you don’t dig?
Well simply put, you smother them. You cover the weeds and stop them from getting any daylight, this kills them off while you grow on top.
Killing the weeds
So we need to put some material over the weeds that will block the light. I like to use cardboard for this.
Cardboard is perfect because it is cheap and easily bought. It is also thick enough to kill the weeds but is made of natural products so it rots away in the soil over time.
You can use plastic sheeting, but you will need to remove this before gardening. Some weeds can take many months to die so you will have to wait a while before you can start growing veg.
With cardboard, you can put some compost down on top of it and start growing straight away. You know that the cardboard will rot away, so you don’t need to worry about removing it.
Strim The Weeds Down
To start with, I strim everything down as low as possible. This severely weakens the weeds before we even start with our cardboard covering.
Leave all of the residues on the surface as another mulch layer, this will also help to improve the soil as it composts down.
Put Down Cardboard
Now you want to put down cardboard to cover the entire area. You can use saved cardboard or buy it in rolls if you don’t have enough.
The rolls are much easier to handle as you don’t have all shapes and sizes of cardboard to try and fit together like a jigsaw.
If you are using cardboard that you have saved from the bin then don’t use any glossy printed cardboard as you don’t want these chemicals in your soil.
Make sure you get a perfect overlap everywhere so there is nowhere weeds can grow through.
If possible lay your cardboard down in two layers so it is double thickness. This will make it hard for weeds to find their way through.
If using a roll of cardboard lay your rows out horizontally and vertically, so they crisscross. Put one row down one way and then swap for the row on top.
Compost on Top
Now we want to place some good compost on top of the cardboard. This is what we will be growing in for the first few months at least until the cardboard rots away so we need it to be deep.
The deeper your layer of compost, the more challenging the weeds will find it to push through from below the cardboard.
I then like to mulch the pathways with bark, this gives a low-maintenance vegetable garden.
And there we have it. This is exactly how I started my new allotment patch last year.
Some weeds and grasses did come through, but it was much easier to keep on top of them.