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Weed control basically is the removal of weeds by physical or chemical methods. They can be removed manually (by hand) when just sprouting, but this can be very time consuming. A better way to get a handle on weed control is prevention. Begin by covering the garden plot with several layers of wet newspaper or a large black plastic sheet for several weeks. If using newspaper, continue to saturate all the papers daily, which helps speed up the decomposition of the dead plants underneath. Also, the layers of newspaper prevents sunlight from reaching the plants (or weeds) underneath, which kills them. After several weeks, the newspaper can be removed and all plants underneath should be dead. The ground can then be planted. A layer of wood chips, gravel or other mulch on top of the ground around the plants will also help prevent new weeds from sprouting. If using a black plastic sheet, the greenhouse effect will kill the weeds. Another natural way to kill weeds once they’ve sprouted is to spray them with full-strength vinegar on a sunny day. If removing weeds by hand, which is also called the “stale seed bed” method, one must first cultivate the soil and leave it for a week or two. When the first weeds start to grow, go through the garden bed and lightly hoe (dig up) the weeds by the roots.

Herbicides and pesticides can also be used for weed control. In very large gardens or farms, weeding is usually done by machines using liquid herbicide sprayers to prevent massive amounts of weeds from growing. Herbicides work by interfering with the growth of the weed or they are applied to the soil to prevent germination of weed seeds. Contact herbicides destroy only the plant tissue in contact with the chemical spray. They do not work on perennials that re-grow from roots or tubers. Systemic herbicides are foliar-applied and destroy a greater amount of the plant tissue. Soil-borne herbicides are applied to the soil and are taken up by the roots of the plants. Modern herbicides are made to leave no harmful residue in the soil.


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