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New gardens

New gardens often have terrible weed problems. If the garden is to replace a well weeded lawn, scalp off the sod, compost it, and return it to the garden later. Alternatively, Lee Reich (Weedless Gardening) recommends closely mowing the grass, covering it with newspapers and a few inches of compost. This smothers the grass while allowing crops to be grown in the compost.

When the garden is being established on weedy ground, it is best to avoid planting vegetables the first year. Instead, till, plant a cover crop, till in the cover crop before weeds get large or go to seed, and repeat this at 4-6 week intervals throughout the summer. This will deplete the weed seedbank and exhaust the storage organs of perennial weeds, while simultaneously building up soil organic matter and soil tilth. Buckwheat, sorghum/sudan grass hybrid, or a mixture of oats and field peas are all fast growing, competitive summer cover crops. At the end of Aug. plant oats on parts of the garden that will be planted early the next year. These will compete with weeds in the fall but frost kill, leaving the garden ready for early planting. On areas that will be planted to vegetables around or after the last frost in the spring, plant hairy vetch in Aug or Rye in Sep. (Winter cover crops).