Reducing Your Weed Seed Bank in the Garden

What is a Weed Seed Bank?

The weed seed bank is the amount of weed seeds you have stored in your garden soils. However, we want to eliminate the weed seeds in the soil because they can cause some serious issues in the garden. The contributions that we can’t control when it comes to weed seeds are wind, water, and animals such as birds. In other words, we can’t control the wind blowing around seeds from outside the garden into the garden, weed seeds getting added to the garden by water runoff caused by rainfall, and birds that eat plants then come into our garden adding the weed seeds to the area. However, the one thing we can control is maintaining the weeds that are growing in the garden to eliminate them from developing more seeds.

4 Simple Solutions

On this week’s episode, Travis talks about reducing your weed seed bank in the vegetable garden soils. Once you start seeing weeds pop up in your garden that is the best time to start removing them so they do not overpopulate your garden. If you have a new garden area the weed seed bank will be much higher than a garden that has been growing vegetables for a couple of years. Over the years of growing vegetables in a garden and removing weeds properly from the area, your weed seed bank will lower the amount of pressure every year. The first solution to keeping the weed seeds eliminated is through frequent shallow cultivation. In order to do this, we suggest using the Single Wheel Hoe which allows you to cultivate the top layer of the soil enough to disturb the small weeds from continuing to grow and keep the new weeds from germinating. We also recommend using the wheel hoe at least once a week or every time it rains so your garden does not crust over and it is easier to cultivate in the following weeks. Travis also alternates between two different wheel hoe attachments such as the cultivator teeth and winged sweeps to ensure he gets the best cultivation in the garden. The cultivator teeth will help lift the small weeds to the top of the soil so ultimately the sun will be able to bake them and kill them. The winged sweeps will do a good job of cutting through any of the weed roots underneath the soil layer. However, if you harder clay-like soils instead of using the sweeps the oscillating hoe will be a better attachment to use in those soil types. The second solution is to reduce the amount of overhead watering going on in the vegetable garden. If you use drip tape you are able to provide an accurate amount of irrigation directly to the plants and avoid watering unnecessary spots that can cause weed germination. Another solution is to keep the grass cut around the garden. Keeping the grass cut eliminates a weed seed reservoir on the outside of the garden where wind, birds, and water can move weed seeds into the garden. The last simple solution that Travis mentions is to avoid letting your garden get away from you when you aren’t using it. There are a few ways to avoid letting this happen such as grow plants year-around, grow cover crops, or use a silage tarp to prevent weed germination. By establishing these practices in the garden you should be able to remove the weed seed bank and overall have a better vegetable garden throughout every growing season.

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