Spring gardens across the earth will soon be full with flowers and vegetables but at the same time the stubborn weeds will also be springing up as well.

Here are five basic and very useful tips for controlling annual weeds in your vegetable garden.

1. Use No-Till Gardening

The more you till, the more weed seeds are brought to the soil surface to germinate. Consider moving to a low- or no-till gardening system to keep the weed seeds buried.

2. Identify All Your Weeds

Know the weed you’re dealing with before you start pulling or hoeing. Make sure it’s a weed and not one of your vegetable seedlings.

3. Early Weeding is More Beneficial

If you weed early in the season, you’ll have fewer problems later. Remove annual weeds before they reach 3 inches tall. On a sunny day, using a sharp-edged hoe, gently slice the weeds just below the soil surface to kill them. The sun will help kill the weeds so they don’t re-sprout.

4. Growing Weed-Smothering Crops

Crops like tomatoes, melons, potatoes and cabbage grow quickly in warm soils and can outgrow weeds. Plus, they are large enough to shade out weeds growing later in the season. Or consider a cover crop to smother weeds, and add organic matter to the soil. Buckwheat is a fast growing cover crop that will smother weeds.

5. Weeds are Edible Too

Weeds aren’t all bad. After all, the definition of a weed is a plant growing in the wrong place. Many weeds are edible and taste great. Harvest lamb’s quarters, purslane and pigweed when they are young and add them to salads. Mix chickweed in with basil and parsley to make a great pesto.

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