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Weed early & shallow

Most annual weed seeds are tiny - often about the size of the head of a pin (Seed size). Because their food stores are small, they cannot emerge from deep in the soil, and they are very thin and fragile shortly after germination. Hence very shallow (~ 1") disturbance of the soil can be very effective for eliminating a large percentage of these weeds. Deeper soil disturbance brings additional seeds to the surface where they will germinate.

If planting has been delayed since the seedbed was prepared, scratch the soil surface thoroughly with a garden rake or stirrup hoe before planting. Repeat when the first tiny seedlings appear. Note that you may not be able to see newly emerged seedlings unless you get down on hands and knees. For large seeded crops like sweet corn, snap beans etc. that are planted >1" deep, the soil can be raked right over the rows before the crop emerges, and if you are careful, after the shoots are fully out of the ground. Since you can't see the weeds, these actions often seem pointless. They are easy to perform, however, and they are probably the single most effective way to reduce difficult pulling and hoeing later in the season. Note, however, that this sort of 'blind cultivation' as it is sometimes called is pointless if the surface soil is too dry for seed germination.