Controlling Common Weeds in an Organic Garden

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Weeds are a problem for any gardener, but they can be slightly more of a problem to organic gardeners.  Weed killer is the easy way to get rid of weeds… but you don't want to do that in an organic garden.  So what else can you do?

First, you’ll need to identify the weed, and then tend to it in the way that best gets rid of that type of weed.  Here are a few of the most common weeds, and ways to get rid of them.


Dandelion – Image Source: Randi Hausken

Dandelion is one of the worst offenders.  Some people believe that the dandelion provides health benefits and choose to grow them for their greens.  Most gardeners just want to get rid of them.  If you want to get rid of dandelions, you will need to dig out the entire taproot.  If you pull them up before they flower and form seed, they make a great addition to your compost bin.  Because dandelions have a long taproot, they are able to reach minerals that shallow plants cannot.  The taproot when composted will release minerals back into the soil.


Crabgrass – Image Source: Harry Rose

Crabgrass is a very tough weed and a major pest in many yards and gardens. It is very hard to pull up and especially hard to get rid of.  Pull up the entire plant, including all of its roots.  You can suppress further growth of crab grass by spreading down corn gluten in the early spring. Mulch will also prevent the seeds from germinating.

Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy – Image Source: Beatrice Murch

Poison ivy is probably one of the most dreaded plants. Very mild exposure can cause a terrible rash. Always wear gloves when handling this plant, and don’t let it touch any part of your skin.  Cut the plant at the base, then let it dry out completely before handling. Bury the vines or throw them away.  It's much easier to deal with the vines in the early spring when they first appear.  Do not put poison ivy in your compost and never burn poison ivy as the smoke can be fatal!

Lambs Quarters

Lambs Quarters – Image Source: Emily G. Round

Lamb’s quarters is an edible wild green. Some people grow these for food, but most people think of them as common weeds. They can be difficult to get rid of. You can hoe or pull up the plants when you see them. Then you should mulch heavily to suppress the seedlings.

Common Ragweed Seedling

Common Ragweed Seedling – Image Source: pawpaw67

Ragweed is a plant that many people want to get rid of. It’s a very common allergen, and its pollen is a major cause of hay fever. You can hoe up seedlings, and use a mower to mow down full-sized plants. You can use mulch to cover the areas where it grows. You can compost ragweed if it hasn’t yet gone to seed.


Purslane – Image Source: F.D. Richards

Purslane is an edible plant. You can remove individual plants by hoeing. If you pull the plants, they can reroot themselves if you leave them lying on top of the soil. The seeds of this plant can mature after the plant has been pulled, so don’t compost them. You can mulch to prevent these from growing.


Prickly Lettuce

Prickly Lettuce – Image Source: John Tann

Prickly lettuce is an annoying little plant. It can cause itching and burning if it comes in contact with skin, so always wear gloves when you handle it. You can pull or hoe plants, or cut the taproot below the soil.  You might wish to leave it alone, as it can attract beneficial insects, but it can carry lettuce diseases. Be sure to keep it away from your lettuce patches.


Common Cocklebur

Common Cocklebur – Image Source: Matt Lavin

Cocklebur is poisonous to livestock, so you should be sure to keep it away from your animals. You can hoe or pull plants beneath the soil line. You can compost it if it hasn’t yet gone to seed.


Greg and I simply love to garden and enjoy communicating with others who love gardening as much as we do. Our blog is a work in progress. We really appreciate you watching and interacting with us as we grow. :)

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