Organic Weed Control with Jean-Martin Fortier

Farming with organic weed control requires a bit more attention at crucial times in the growing season, but it doesn't have to mean hours of hand-weeding.

| April 2015

Local organic agriculture depends on innovative ideas for its success, and The Market Gardener, (New Society Publishers, 2014) by Jean-Martin Fortier, is full of low-tech, high-yield methods of production proven on the grounds of Les Jardins de la Grelinette. From organic weed control to systematic crop growth and realistic marketing plans, Fortier explains how he and his wife have made a good living on only 1.5 acres of cultivated land. The following excerpt is from chapter 9, "Weed Management."

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Market Gardener.

Too many growers consider hoeing to be a treatment for weeds, and thus they start too late. Hoeing should be understood as a means of prevention. In other words: Don’t weed, cultivate... Large weeds are competition for both the crops and the grower. — Eliot Coleman, The New Organic Grower, 1989

As the laborious task of transplanting the seedlings into the garden begins to wind down, another job raises its head: weed control. Anyone who has grown a backyard garden knows all too well that vegetables can quickly disappear in a jungle of weeds. So how do you keep a one-acre garden weed-free? And can it be done effectively using hand tools?

Above all, it is important to acknowledge that weeds compete with vegetables for water, nutrients, and growing space. Despite the views advanced in some “natural” gardening circles, the idea that it’s possible to grow beautiful vegetables in harmony with weeds is simply untrue; just as seeking a cropping system that would not require weeding in some form or another is unrealistic.

So-called natural organic herbicides claiming to control weeds may do so in the short term, but they destroy the long-term biological health of the soil. For weed management practices to be both ecological and sustainable, a market gardener should rather look into careful planning for weed prevention and follow with effective and efficient weed control strategies. Dealing with weeds the organic way also takes persistence, the right tools, and innovative techniques.

5/19/2016 2:44:27 PM

Hello I would like to know how to get kill crab grass? it grows next to my garden so i would like something organic. can anyone help?

4/22/2015 8:48:21 PM

I enjoyed reading the organic weed control article. Can anyone tell me how to get rid of bindweed? I've pulled it for the last three years. It keeps coming back and spreading farther.

4/22/2015 8:56:51 AM

Not a word about leaves for mulching in this article. It is free and is very effective in keeping 98% of our weeds down.we rarely weed our tomatoes, pepper, or any large veggies that require space between them

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