I love my vegetable garden, but every spring it looks like the Amazon, and the task of clearing the overgrown weeds is not enjoyable.
One fall, I took cardboard and laid it down over my beds and covered it with straw. The following spring, I lifted the cardboard, and voila, the bed was perfectly prepped and ready for planting. It was glorious.
I have already restarted this process for the remainder of the garden but was hoping to get some alternate strategies. While the cardboard/straw works well (from what I can tell), it:
- Costs money... straw isn't as cheap as it used to be
- Takes time - collecting cardboard from local stores, flattening it, laying it down to shape
- Isn't exactly beautiful, although the straw does take the edge off
I can't help but think I'm not the first person who's had to deal with this. I am very interested in and open to cover crops, but bear in mind my goal is to minimize the work I have to do in the spring, when I am busiest. Do cover crops create work for me in the spring, or do they just die? Aside from cover crops, are there other low-cost strategies I can apply now to control weeds in the spring?
For what it's worth, I've tried burning the weeds in the spring with a propane torch without much success.
Also, two limitations I am bound by (admittedly self imposed):
- No tilling -- I have no-till beds, and I am married to the idea
- No Artificial chemicals like Round Up -- I'm 100% organic in my veggie garden
I am in North-Central Indiana, zone 5b.