Gardening 101: Pulling weeds

I remember as a child watching my mother pull weeds from around tiny green bean plants in our family’s organic garden. Helping, as little kids like to do, I followed behind her pulling weeds, or at least what I thought were weeds. Yes, you guessed it. I pulled out the green bean seedlings. It can be challenging for the first time gardener and even some of us seasoned gardeners to determine the difference between a weed and preferred vegetation, like flowers or vegetables.

Big tip with vegetables is that you plant them in rows with a specific space between each seed, like 6 inches. If the soil was prepared well by removing all weeds before planting seeds, then the seedlings (term refers to plants just erupting from the soil) will be evenly spaced apart and in straight rows. Gently pull out anything else that starts growing. Look on the internet for pictures of the leaves of seedlings if you are still in doubt. Alternatively, you can let the weeds and seedlings grow in unison until you are certain what is a weed.

If you are lucky, the leaves of the weed will be obvious, standing out against the leaves of the plant. Check out the weed growing in the flowers (impatiens) shown above. The leaves of the weed are different from the leaves of the impatiens. Do not tug on the weed from the top; that could cause the weed stem to break and leave the root in the soil where it will re-grow. Instead, work your fingers down the main stem of the weed, tracking it to the soil. Grasp the weed at the soil level and pull it from there.

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