Veggie Garden, Weed Epidemics, and the Joys of Growing Plants

A gloved hand is seen pulling weeds.

Pulling weeds by hand — there has got to be a better way! (Image: Elena Masiutkina via Dreamstime)

The last of the corn is being harvested from the veggie garden, the final cucumbers picked, and the pumpkins are looking about ready.

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In Australia, the autumn breezes are blowing and the weeds are growing. The bane of my gardening life — weeds. Oh, how I dislike them. They even go so far as to ruin my gardening experience, and I’ve fantasized about a life without them. However, like anything, there are ways to manage them.  

The garden transition from summer to autumn

I’d love to be able to pretend like I’m some master farmer, but unfortunately, one of my shameful secrets is that there are more weeds than I’d like to admit in my veggie garden. 

I’ve tried a few different things in my garden to keep weeds under control, but so far, nothing that I feel is the method I will be using going forward. The two main methods are using a rotary hoe to keep the garden maintained and hand weeding. I don’t like chemical sprays, so that’s not something that I want to use.

I have a big pile of wood chips that I want to use to help me suffocate the weeds by spreading them over the top of the soil, which will hopefully reduce the number of weeds that appear. But I am concerned that with this method, I will end up turning the wood chips into the soil, which will require a large amount of nitrogen from the soil to break them down, thus depleting my natural stores in the soil that could have instead be used to grow delicious vegetables!

Wood chips being put around plants.
I have a big pile of wood chips that I want to use to help me suffocate the weeds. (Image: Jon Rehg via Dreamstime)

Letting wood chips decompose on the soil surface, however, doesn’t require the soil to break them down and is beneficial to the growing environment and nutrient stores. 

The second method, which I am more fond of, is setting up weed mats with irrigation pipes underneath. This will make it so almost no weeds grow, as well as make watering easy, only requiring that I turn some taps to get the water to go where I want it to go. 

I am even thinking of combining both methods by leaving wood chips sitting underneath the weed mats and letting them slowly break down. The goal would be to increase soil fertility and water holding capacity by allowing the wood chips to slowly break down. 

To me, my veggie garden has always been one big experiment. I’ve loved playing around with the dirt and soil, slowly watching it change color from a more red soil to a darker, more black. 

I like darker, blacker soil because it means there’s more soil carbon in it, which means it has a greater water holding capacity and is an indicator of positive bio-activity. 

I remember last year or the year before, I gave Nan a pumpkin from my garden. Later on, after she tried it, she complimented me that it was the nicest pumpkin she had ever had. Pop was there and I don’t think he was too pleased to hear that after all the pumpkins he has grown for her over the years!

A beautiful pumpkin from my garden.
I gave Nan a pumpkin from my garden and she complimented me that it was the nicest pumpkin she had ever had. (Image: Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures)

Gardening, whether it’s for aesthetics and beautifying the house or for growing food, is a great way to connect with yourself, nature, and the universe. When I garden, I feel in harmony with life and the universe. I feel centered and balanced. I feel pleasure and joy. 

All the old-timers always have such wonderful gardens. I would like to keep this tradition alive and keep my garden beautiful, colorful, and full of wonderful food. 

Anyone can garden and grow something. Even if you live in an apartment, there’s food that you can grow in pots near sunny windows. 

Everyone should have at least one plant they care for. If you haven’t tried it before or haven’t in a while, I suggest you give it a go. You might be pleasantly surprised at how good it makes you feel.  

As for me… It’s time to tackle the jungle and get some autumn plants in the garden.

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