Watch Out for Weeds in the Pepper Patch
by National Gardening Association Editors
Weeds will compete with plants for the same space, sun, water and nutrients, so make it a practice to go out there and cultivate. Regular cultivation, especially early in the season, keeps the weeds down and makes sure the plants get all the water and nutrients available.
It's important to remember that whether you cultivate with a hoe, tiller, iron garden rake, or other weed-beating tool, cultivation should be shallow - not more than one inch below the surface of the soil. Weed seeds are usually close to the surface, and deep cultivation will only bring more of them up near the surface, where they can germinate. If you cultivate too deeply, you may injure your plants' roots.
The best time to weed is after a rain when the plants have dried off, but before the soil has dried out completely. Get those weeds before they get a good start, and they'll pull easily from loose, moist soil.
Mulch to Prevent Weeds
A good way to beat weeds is to mulch your plants. A thick mulch stops weeds from germinating by preventing sunlight from coming through. Mulch also keeps moisture in the soil, so your plants won't dry out. Many southern gardeners use thick mulches of hay, straw, or other materials to protect the roots of their eggplant and pepper plants from too much heat in the summer months. Mulch two to three weeks after planting to allow soil to warm up. In the North, many gardeners use black plastic mulch both to warm the soil and to keep weeds at bay.
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