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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

Those Damn Weeds!

Updated: Jan 26

Tips for Effective Weed Control


By definition, a weed is an unwanted plant, sometimes called a four-letter word. FORB. A weed robs precious nutrients and water from your garlic plants. For garlic producers, a weed is any plant other than garlic that clutters your garden space. Forbs are considered broad-leaf, “flowering” plants, and although this is not always the case or may not be apparent, it is a good rule of thumb to follow. Most people think of forbs as weeds. Pigweeds, for example, emerge from soil and produce nearly 40,000 seeds per plant by late summer. That equates to nearly 40K new weeds next year!

groeat.  weeds.  garlic.
Garlic Gardners Removing Weeds from the Garden

If you are feeling uneasy about using any sort of weed killer, you are not alone. There is a huge trend in gardening to stop using chemical weed killers and use other methods instead. Simple examples include pouring boiling water on weeds, placing a plastic tarp or transparent plastic over the soil and weeds, and smothering weeds using old newspaper or an old shower curtain to block both sun and moisture. There are many methods of killing weeds without using chemicals. Some of the most common methods include:

  • Hand weeding: This is the most basic method of weed control. Simply remove the weeds by hand, taking care to remove the entire root system.

  • Mulching: Mulch is a layer of material that is spread over the soil. It can help to prevent weeds from growing by blocking sunlight and moisture.

  • Soil solarization: This method involves covering the soil with clear plastic for several weeks. The heat from the sun will kill the weeds' roots.

  • Watering: Weeds need water to survive. By watering your lawn or garden regularly, you can help to prevent weeds from taking root.

  • Weeding tools: There are a number of tools that can be used to remove weeds, such as a hoe, a weed wrench, and a cultivator.

  • Organic herbicides: There are a number of organic herbicides that can be used to kill weeds. These herbicides are made from natural ingredients, such as vinegar, salt, and clove oil.

Garlic has a long growing season (nine-month growing season) and this gives weeds ample time to grow and steal precious resources from the garlic plant. It's hard to have compassion for weeds, but they're just plants growing in places where they're not wanted. To tackle weeds effectively without resorting to toxic chemicals, you need some hard-hitting strategies. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and tricks that will help you get rid of these leafy invaders naturally. An effective weed management plan can increase garlic yields and bulb size. We'll review a variety of methods that can be used to control weeds. Nothing ruins a garlic patch like weeds, those uninvited guests that rob your plants of space and nutrients. To "permanently" get rid of them, some gardening experts suggest creating their own weed killer using three "everyday household items" - vinegar, salt and soap. They claimed after using this weeds "won't come back".

Weeds are a Common Problem.

Weeds are a common problem in gardens, and they can be difficult to control. They compete with desirable plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients, and they can harbor pests and diseases. In addition, weeds can make your garden look untidy and unkempt.

There are many different types of weeds, and they can vary in size, shape, and color. Some common weeds include dandelions, crabgrass, and chickweed. Weeds can grow in any type of soil, and they can tolerate a wide range of conditions.

Weeds can be a major problem in gardens, and they can have a significant impact on the health and productivity of your plants. Here are some of the reasons why weeds are bad in a garden:

  • Weeds compete with desirable plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients. This can lead to stunted growth and poor yields in your garden plants.

  • Weeds can harbor pests and diseases. These pests and diseases can then spread to your desirable plants, causing damage and even death.

  • Weeds can make your garden look untidy and unkempt. This can be unsightly and can also make it difficult to find and care for your desirable plants.

There are a number of things you can do to control weeds in your garden. Some common methods include hand-pulling, hoeing, mulching, and using herbicides. Hand-pulling is the most effective method, but it can be time-consuming.

Hoeing is a less effective method, but it is quicker than hand-pulling. Mulching is a good way to prevent weeds from germinating, but it is not effective against established weeds. Herbicides can be effective in controlling weeds, but they should be used with caution, as they can also harm desirable plants. The best way to control weeds in your garden is to use a combination of methods. Hand-pulling and hoeing should be used to control established weeds, while mulching and herbicides can be used to prevent new weeds from germinating. With a little effort, you can keep your garden free of weeds and enjoy a healthy and productive garden.

The Solution is Simple.

Weeds have powerful intentions and produce a significant number of seeds in summer and early autumn. The key to eliminating weeds from your garden is to eliminate the next generation of weeds by removing the seeds. Take the time to pick by hand, or use a weed-flame burner to kill or destroy the seeds. Don't till the weeds and their seeds into the soil.

weeds in the garden
Weeds in the Garden. Removing Weeds

Garlic Plants Do Not Like to Compete with Weeds.

Weeds have a strong determination to reproduce. Compound that statement with the fact that weed seeds can live for a number of years. Every square foot of your garden contain hidden weed seeds, but only those in the top inch or two of soil get enough water and light to trigger germination, depending on the species and whether the seed is exposed or buried beneath the soil surface. Garlic cannot tolerate competition from weeds. If growing directly in the ground, make sure the area you select is well-weeded prior to planting. Otherwise, plant garlic in containers or raised garden beds. Understanding weeds and the strategies to keep them away from your garlic will help your well-groomed garlic reach its full potential.

Weed Quotes, Garlic, Seed Garlic
Weed Quotes

Garlic plants do not like to compete for food and water. Ideally, garlic should grow in a weed-free environment for the entire growing season. Weed control is important -Weeds can decrease yield by as much as 60%. When removing weeds it is critically important not to damage the garlic plant - especially the garlic roots. Garlic roots are relatively shallow and can be damaged easily with a sharp blade, garden hoe, tiller, shovel, or garden fork. Some organic garlic growers find that they need to remove weeds every two weeks. Weeding often and removing as many annual and perennial weeds as possible will help garlic plants flourish and reach their full potential. Even the narrow leaves of mature garlic plants do not effectively shade the ground, giving weeds full sun.

Stop Weeds Now. Prevent More Weeds Next Year.

Burn, incinerate, and remove any visible weed seeds from your garlic plot in late summer. Don't till or rotate the soil until after all weed seeds have been destroyed or removed. Use a weed flamer to incinerate weeds and weed seeds. Weeds such as Field Penny Crest will pop, like popcorn.

Stay Away from Roundup.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the world by commercial gardeners. It is found to be highly toxic and can cause many short-term and long-term health effects. Not to mention it can be harmful to important pollinators such as honey bees. To help educate those in the farming and gardening industries about this toxic chemical, DrugWatch created two comprehensive guides. They cover things like what it is used for, symptoms, and possible health risks. Please take a look:

Prevention of Weeds.

Weed Prevention focuses on keeping new annual and perennial weeds out of your garlic patch and preventing the further spread of weed seed or perennial plant parts. Halting the introduction of weed seed to the soil can be particularly critical. One method of preventing weeds is to remove them or destroy them before they flower and release weed seeds. This prevention strategy can focus on both the garlic plot and the area surrounding the garlic plot. If necessary, weeds may need to be removed from the field by hand before they produce seed. Weeds can also be introduced into fields through manure, compost, straw, animal feed, contaminated crop seed, or other materials such as hay. Did you know that some garlic growers confuse the difference between hay and straw? Hay is basically grass, grown to the proper height, cut at the peak of nutrition, dried, bundled, and stored. Straw is the hollow, bare stalk remaining after a seed head, such as wheat or barley has been harvested. Use straw, not hay for mulch!

Advantages of Weeding and The Power of Observation

At the GroEat Garlic Farm, weeds are often thought of as the enemy. The weeds, "force" us into the garden. The oldest way to tackle the problem is walking into your garlic plot and manual pulling; Walking each row, looking at virtually every plant. Sure, it is labor and time-consuming. But, just the act of spending lots of time in your garlic patch has advantages.

Observation forces us to take a closer look at what is happening in the garden. And if we take notes and photos, these recorded observations can help us by providing a chronicle of events over time. Chronological-Photo Records are a powerful way to document a garlic patch for future plantings. A set of garden notes and photos can greatly increase our knowledge base on the garlic-growing process. Both of these are extremely valuable as we learn more about the growing process and stages of garlic. When do the garlic scapes appear? What time of the year do certain weeds appear? What differences are observed between different garlic cultivars? We begin to identify garden problems at a very early stage, and we have notes that can be referred to in the future for planning and dealing with seasonal changes in the garlic plot. Thank you weeds, for forcing us to spend time in the garlic garden.

(Field Observations of Garlic Taken While Spending Time in the Garlic Patch)

Weed Control Methods.

Open soil, wind, sunlight,, and rain all work together to help weeds flourish and thrive. It is virtually impossible to create a weed-free environment. Without intervention, over time, weeds will take over. But, by being diligent and following a few weed-control strategies, we can keep most weeds from robbing our garlic of precious water, nutrients and resources. Anything that reduces weed seed pressure will be advantageous. Here are a few methods that can be used to minimize weeds in your garlic patch.

1. Crop Rotation With Cover Crops

Cover crops can help suppress weeds, help increase water quality and reduce nutrient runoff and leaching during non-cropping months. Cover crops can provide a variety of benefits to the crop when used in crop rotations, especially if they are grown in the fall prior to planting garlic. Cover cropping can provide some weed control by competing with weeds for light, moisture, nutrients, and space. The denser the cover crop and greater the biomass, the greater the impact on weeds. Despite potential benefits, physical and chemical effects from cover crops may not provide adequate weed control. If cover crops become established quickly, they will suppress weeds, essentially suffocating them and aggressively using nutrients and water. Cover crops provide complete ground cover and are competitive with weeds. The biomass of the cover crop should be allowed to break down in the soil before planting garlic. Possible cover crops for garlic (field rotation) include Alfalfa, Hairy Vetch, Buckwheat, Red Clover, and oats. Oats will grow and freeze down, die and become nutrient-rich mulch for the garlic. Garlic growers have observed that beans and peas can become stunted by garlic. Cover crops can help control weeds, reduce wind and water erosion, help loosen compact soil, add organic matter and nutrients to the soil. Cover crop biomass can increase pressure from certain diseases and insect pests.

(Clover Cover Crop)

2. Solarization of Soil

Soil solarization (also known as biosolarization) traps sunlight beneath a layer of clear plastic, and this heat can reduce weed seeds. This chemical-free method of sterilizing soil is achieved by raising soil temperature by covering it with thin clear plastic. The heat can also remove the entire structure of perennial weeds, including roots. The sun heats the soil to temperatures that kill bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes, mites, weeds, and weed seeds. This is referred to as Thermal Killing. Thermal killing is effective because intense heat builds up from the sun. To solarize soil, begin by clearing the area of plants and debris. Next, water the soil deeply until it is wet. If you have compost, add compost and/or aged manure to the area. Next, drape clear plastic tarp(s) tightly over the entire area to trap the heat from the sun in the soil. To keep the plastic from blowing away, bury the plastic edges in the soil to trap the heat. Leave the plastic in place for at least one month in the hottest part of the summer before removing the plastic. The compost and manure encourage the growth of heat-loving microbes that produce organic acids from fermentation. While these acids may be deadly for pests, they are relatively non-toxic to humans. Solarization of soil shows promise against many North American weeds. Tarping is also effective and popular among small-scale growers. Solarization effectively controls seedlings through solarization may not be effective in killing seeds with harder seed coats.

(Soil Solarization Film)

When should solorization be used? Plan to solarize soil according to planting time: plastic must remain in place for a minimum of a month. Best results occur when garlic is planted immediately after removing the plastic. Instead of removing the plastic, holes can be burned into the plastic (using a blow torch) and garlic cloves can be planted directly into the holes. Because solarization requires a summer fallow (sometimes called fallow cropland, is cropland that is purposely kept out of production during a regular growing season), it works well with the fall planting of garlic. Solorization could be started in early July and allowed to stay in place until late September - just before garlic is planted in the fall.

3. Repetitive Tilling and Deep Plowing

Converting a never-before-planted field into a garlic patch can be a lot of work. Deep plowing and repetitive tilling is a method that has some advantages - but also has disadvantages. Tilling creates a medium that is easier to plant and also creates an environment where organic matter is can be broken down to its primary elements. Tilling is like mixing the ingredients before baking a cake. The benefits of tilling include aerating the soil and making it light and fluffy. Garlic loves light and fluffy soil. The tines on a tiller also cut, chop and kill weeds. Tilling also churns and mixes soil, organic compost, fertilizers, and sulfur into the soil.

Begin by mowing the area that will become the new garlic patch. The first tilling will incorporate vegetative biomass (weeds and plants) into the soil will bring dormant weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate. This is good news. Weed seeds can remain dormant for a very long time. Keep a close watch on the newly tilled plot. You'll see new weeds sprouting in only a few weeks. This is good news. Tilling every few weeks for the entire spring and summer will eventually kill many of the weeds by disrupting their growth cycle and preventing them from producing seeds.

(Tilling the Soil and Creating Hilled Rows; Cub Cadet Hydraulic Tiller)

Tilling has been challenged in the last half-century. Productive soil contains invisible fungal filaments, living threads of mycelium, billions of invisible bacteria, and several thousand protozoa. Fungi help plants take in water and nutrients by causing roots to grow larger and deeper. Soil is more than the sum of its parts. Tilling kills living webs of interconnected organisms and destroys underground networks that connect plants. Rototilling cuts and scores fungal hyphae, slices worms in pieces and destroys arthropods and nematodes.

OUR EXPERIENCE: At GroEAT Farm in Montana, we have experimented with tilling for many years and have had great success with this method. Not only has tilling reduced weeds over the years, but it also appears to make the soil lighter and fluffier. Garlic loves fluffy soil. We've observed that tilling the soil, after adding loads of organic matter, helps make the soil more productive. The tilling mixes and integrate the layers of organic matter and makes planting easier in the fall. Garlic appears to thrive in lighter, fluffier soil. Yes, the soil is tilled in the fall, and the important living webs of interconnected organisms are been disrupted. Our solution? We make and apply a special "Soil Bacteria Food" to feed the bacteria over the next nine months. This helps restore the important living webs of interconnected organisms.

How to Make Soil Bacteria (YouTube):

4. Weeding by Hand

Bending over and weeding regularly (hand weeding) can be an effective way to remove weeds. TIP: Weeding after it rains or after the soil is watered deeply makes weeding easier! The moist soil makes weeding so much more effective! Don't wait too long to weed your garlic. When weeds are small, their roots are weaker, making it easier to pull them out. Grab each weed individually at its base and then pull slowly and steadily to ease the roots from the soil. Snatching a handful of weeds often causes the weed to snap in two, leaving the bottom half and the roots still in the ground. Some stubborn weeds send deep roots that are extremely hard to pull. When dealing with these tough plants, use sharp snippers. In situations where weeds to not appear to take up large areas, hand weeding works well. It allows gardeners to dig up the entire weed, roots, and all.

5. Natural Mulch

Mulch, in simple terms, is a material that covers the soil’s surface. Mulching is a process of applying these materials to the surface of garden soil to retain soil moisture by preventing water evaporation, especially in summer, to keep the soil temperature cooler, and to suppress weed growth. The thickness of mulching can vary depending on the size of the plant. Common mulching materials that can be used include shredded leaves, shredded bark, coconut coir or coconut husk, and straw. Additional mulching materials include wood chips, sawdust, grass clippings, shredded newspaper, cardboard, wool, and animal manure. Mulching has sustainable and ecological benefits. Done correctly, mulching feeds soil’s living microorganisms with nutrients, and the waste from these tiny microbes create a healthier soil structure for plants, limiting compaction. Because garlic competes poorly with weeds, mulching garlic leads to bigger and better yields. Mulch not only buffers garlic cloves and new plants from strong winds, but mulch also provides a physical barrier on the soil surface and when applied properly, and blocks nearly all light reaching the soil's surface. If weeds emerge beneath the mulch, they will not have sufficient sunlight to survive.


  • Reduces weed growth by keeping light from reaching the soil surface.

  • Reduces water loss from the soil surface, which helps maintain soil moisture.

  • Moderates soil temperatures, keeping it warmer on cold nights and cooler on hot days.

  • Protects bare soil, reducing erosion and soil compaction.

  • Protects plants from the harsh conditions of winter freezes, thaws, and winds.


  • Too much mulch can bury garlic plants; Garlic plants are resilient and will eventually find their way out of the mulch.

  • Mulch creates a cool, dark hiding place for Slugs, earwigs, cutworms, and other pests. In other words, mulch near plant stems can provide a lovely home for slugs, snails, tunneling rodents, and pests.

  • Heavy rains can make the ground soggy for several days. Mulch can trap moisture. If a garlic patch gets really wet, take off the mulch and let the soil dry.

  • Improperly-composted or fresh animal manures may contain excessively high levels of nitrogen and is harmful to plants. Be sure that any animal manure compost you use has been well-aged. Manure from dogs, cats, humans, and pigs should be avoided altogether as they can carry pathogens that are harmful to humans.

  • Decorative-colored bark may have been treated with chemical dyes, making it unsuitable for organic edible gardens.

  • Pine bark is more acidic and takes longer to break down than hardwood mulch like cedar, fir or redwood, so is better suited for pathways or around trees than directly in veggie or flower beds.

6. Plastic Mulch

Plastic mulch is a type of inorganic mulch. It is a thin plastic film typically made from polyethylene. This thin film is laid on top of the soil and shields the soil from the elements. The polyethylene film is usually a sheet of black plastic and it works the same way as organic mulch, the film insulates the soil, prevents soil erosion, and reduces moisture evaporation. Crops such as garlic can be planted through slits or holes in the plastic sheeting. Since plastics are impervious to water, soil water will not evaporate, significantly reducing water loss. Drip irrigation is typically used with plastic mulch. Mechanized equipment can be employed to make the plastic mulch layer applications easier. Plastic mulch film and drip tape can be applied all in one pass.

(Applying Plastic Mulch Film)

Prior to or during harvest of garlic, the plastic mulch film is removed. Disposal of plastic mulch is cited as an environmental problem; however, technologies exist to provide for the recycling of used/disposed plastic mulch into viable plastic resins for re-use in the plastics manufacturing industry.

7. Landscape Fabric

Landscape fabric is constructed from woven fibers and is manufactured as a solid sheet that allows water to soak through. Some brands offer UV protection to maintain the life of the fabric. It can be made from an assortment of materials, including linen, polyester, and recycled plastic. Usually, it’s a woven cloth laid in garden beds to help keep weeds at bay. Is landscape fabric all we need to get rid of those pesky weeds for good?

Here's the bad news. Landscape fabric has a tendency to compact soil. We've noticed that the soil underneath the landscape fabric does not stay light, fluffy, and crumbly. Rather, the soil becomes harder and more compact as compared to the soil that is not under landscape fabric. While the landscape fabric will reduce the number of weeds under that covered aretendencyhat weeds that do have the strength to emerge can become enmeshed into the fabric and can make a mess. Are harmful chemicals from the landscape fabric leaching into your soil? If the fabric mesh contains petroleum or other chemicals, the answer might be yes. Landscape fabric is also expensive and costly to replace. The long, steel stapes used to hold the fabric down (to prevent it from blowing away) can become easily lost and buried in the soil, and can easily puncture a foot. If holes are made in the fabric to facilitate the planting of seed garlic, the holes may not be large enough to allow the fully-grown garlic head / bulb from being extracted. Therefore, the landscape fabric will need to be removed before harvest, which really can be a difficult and labor-intensive task.

Disadvantages of Landscape Fabric Therefore

  • Not flexible: Each time you make a hole in the fabric (for planting), the fabric becomes less effective. So, it's not practical for gardeners who want to rotate planting areas.

  • Not Idea for Wet Conditions: Garlic does not like the have wet feet. If the roots and growing bulbs stay wet for an extended period of time, they can rot and die. Mold and other diseases may also flourish in the wet environment under the fabric.

  • No more natural nutrients: Organic mulches, like horse or cow manure leach into the covered soil more slowly, and it takes more time for the nutrients to work their magic. It is also more difficult, if not impossible to mix organic material deeper into the soil.

  • Less effective over time: After a while, soil packed underneath loses breathability, and plant roots can suffer from the compacted soil.

  • Not Perfect: Plant roots in search of air and water can grow through the cloth, breaking the weed barrier.

groeat farm
weed fabric used to supress weeds at a garlic farm in montana

(Landscape Fabric and Garlic Production)

Here is some good news. Landscape fabric allows garlic growers to "Tarp and Grow" at the same time. It reduces weeds, warms the soil in the spring, helps retain moisture in the soil, allows moisture to enter the soil (unlike plastic film mulching), and creates a protected and cozy environment for worms to thrive. Landscape fabric reduces the amount of space where weeds can germinate and can also be considered a "No-Tillmoney" operation.

Advantages of Landscape Fabric

  • Helps Prevent weeds: Fabric virtually prevents sunlight from reaching weed seeds, which reduces or eliminates them.

  • Cost-effective: Fabric can last for years, so there's no need to spend time weeding or waste money on other weed-control methods every season.

  • Environmentally-friendly: This cloth limits the need for harsh weed control chemicals. Plus, some are made from recycled materials.

  • Better than Plastic: Unlike plastic alternatives, landscape fabric has tiny holes that allow water to reach plant roots.

  • Conserves moisture: Adding this reduces surface evaporation, so less watering is needed.

8. Burning Weeds with Fire

Burning weeds with fire (Flaming) can be used to kill or suppress the flush of weeds during the growing season. Flaming is particularly effective on garlic crops that have slow-growing rates. Flaming is more effective on small broadleaves than on grass weed species. A propane weed burner furnishes an intense flame directly to the weeds, scorching and killing them. Plants may wilt, change color, or appear unaffected soon after flaming. Even if no change in the weeds is evident immediately, proper flaming causes plants to yellow and die within several days. A weed burner that connects to a standard propane tank delivers a deadly flame directly to the weeds, scorching and transforming them into black char. A weed burner works well between rows of garlic. Be sure weeds are green; Brown and dry weeds can start a fire. Check with local authorities before using a weed torch. Only an experienced operator with demonstrated skill and good judgment should be allowed to flame weeds. Wet conditions during the rainy season or after a thorough irrigation are often good times to flame. Work when winds are absent and when open flames are visible. Keep fire suppression equipment (e.g., a fire extinguisher, shovel, water) handy in case of an accident.  weed killing tool with fire and propane
Garlic Farm Killing Weeds with a Weed Flamer

(Using a Propane-Fueled Flamethrower to Burn Weeds in a Garlic Patch)

IMPORTANT WARNING: SOME PLANTS ARE POISONOUS WHEN BURNED. If poison ivy is burned and the smoke then inhaled, a rash will appear on the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and possibly fatal respiratory difficulty. Other plants that can cause life-threatening issues when burned include: Deadly Nightshade, Jimson Weed, Poison Oak, Giant Hogweed, Stinging Nettle, Water Hemlock, Poison Sumac, and Death Camas.

9. Mechanical Weed Control

Mechanical weed control, such as cultivation, is an important strategy for managing weeds in organic systems. In organic row crops, such as garlic, mechanical cultivation is useful for adequate weed control. Mechanical cultivation can also damage delicate root structures of garlic. Mechanical weed control includes the use of preplant tillage such as plowing, disking, and field cultivating. These types of primary and secondary tillage can help reduce the rate and spread of certain perennial weeds and can also kill emerged weed seedlings and bury weed seeds. To control very small weed seedlings that are just beneath the soil surface or barely emerged, implements such as a rotary hoe, chain-link harrow, or tine weeder are dragged over the field. These implements will displace small seedling weeds and expose them to the drying effects of the wind and sun. Garlic may require many cultivations depending on weed species, severity, and rainfall. Cultivation works best when performed during the heat of the day in bright sunlight; weeds die under these conditions. Rainfall shortly after cultivation may allow weeds to recover and survive. Hand-pulling weeds that escape the cultivator will help prevent weed seed production, which can affect future weed problems. Mowing can also play a role in managing weeds in between rows of garlic crops. Repeated mowing reduces weed competitive ability, depletes carbohydrate reserves in the roots, and prevents seed production. Mowing can kill or suppress annual and biennial weeds and may suppress perennials and help restrict their spread. A single mowing will not satisfactorily control most weeds; however, mowing three or four times per year over several years can greatly reduce and occasionally eliminate certain weeds.

Finger Weeders are a tool used in conjunction with a cultivator. Finger weeders mount to a cultivator's toolbar and will mount on most cultivation systems. The main benefit of finger weeders is that they effectively remove weeds from the plant row itself, without harming the crop. Most finger weeders are ground-engaging tools ground-engaging pecifically designed for in-row cultivation, the finger weeder uproots small and just emerging weeds. The ground engaging steel drive plate turns the flexible polyurethane fingers at a faster speed to "flick" out emerging weeds at the hair stage. Most finger weeders are suitable for garlic planted in rows with a sufficient distance between the rows. They work okay in light to medium-heavy clmanufacturersome manufactures recommend they are best when combined with implements such as vegetable knives or spyders that run in front.

10. No-Till Farming

No-till farming is an agricultural technique for growing crops without drastically disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till farming decreases the amount of soil erosion. No-till farmers grow crops with minimal disturbance to their fields and the organisms that call them home. This apparently builds healthier soils while reducing money spent on fuel and labor. No-till garlic farming is a system in which the seed garlic are planted directly into untilled soil which still contains the previous crop residues. No-till cultivation of garlic minimizes soil disturbance and allows crop residues or stubble to remain on the ground instead of being removed or dug into the soil. You start by covering the soil with four to six inches of organic mulch (dried leaves, grass clippings, or hardwood chips). The mulch helps keep the soil beneath moist, and also prevents weed seeds from sprouting by keeping light from reaching the surface. When you want to plant seed garlic, just push the mulch aside in that spot. Once you’ve established a no-till garden, add a few inches of mulch every year (the old mulch will biodegrade and settle) and push the soil aside as described each time you plant. This no-till approach prevents and reduces weed seeds from germinating and sprouting.

Using Cardboard. If there are many weeds in the area you wish to plant garlic, begin by mowing the area. Some farmers lay down a layer of cardboard before adding organic matter. They then thoroughly wet the cardboard to help it break down. The cardboard will serve as a further barrier to weeds, exhausting and eventually killing most of them off. Reusing cardboard for a garlic plot provides compostable material, kills pesky weeds and develops a bumper crop of earthworms. As cardboard is a highly recyclable material so almost 70% of the new cardboard is made from recycled paper. Cardboard in the garden will also kill lawn grass and help you get a new bed ready for garlic or whatever you want to grow. CAUTION: Some boxes made from cardboard contain a percentage of mineral oils which is toxic for health. Some older cardboard boxes contain a wealth of chemicals. Just a few years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved to ban three chemicals that were traditionally used in a wide variety of popular boxes and packaging such as commonly used pizza boxes.

David Attenborough will make you think about weeds in a different light⁣ 🌱 The Green Planet - BBC

Here are a few suggestions on how to proceed with No-Till Farming.

  1. Don’t Disturb the Soil. When beneficial fungi are present in healthy soils, tilling has the potential to destroy this delicate web of life. By not disturbing the soil, it can begin to rebuild fungal populations and bring soil biological community back in equilibrium. This method can help nitrogen become available through soil biological activity.

  2. Keep plant biomass and plant residue on the soil surface. This helps protect soils from the impact of raindrops, wind, or intense heat. Keep the Soil Covered.

  3. Provide Soil with Food. Soil organisms don’t have enough food to sustain themselves when crops are in the active stages of growth. Plants such as garlic are heavy feeders and take up many of the sugars and nutrients stored in the soil. Make your own soil food. To increase soil bacterial and feed them as well, mix water, molasses, rice and milk together, and let this smelly concoction sit for two weeks in a warm environment. After this liquid food ferments, dilute and pour directly on the soil.

  4. When garlic has numerous green leaves and the plant is growing, the plants produce sugars that attract and feed soil biology that is beneficial to them.

11. Natural Herbicides

Instead of using chemical herbicides, organic farmers can implement a variety of conservation practices that suppress weeds while building soil health. One of those practices is the use of natural herbicides. This may sound like an oxymoron, but natural herbicides do exist.

When looking for a natural alternative to herbicides, a cocktail of vinegar, dish soap, and salt includes ingredients needed to quickly kill weeds. The acetic acid in the vinegar and salt are both very good at drawing moisture from weeds. Acetic acid or vinegar is an ingredient in a number of products, but it may not be currently approved as an herbicide for organic crop production systems. Additional products and ingredients are currently under review for use in organic gardening. Potassium salts and fatty acids are effective at killing unwanted weeds and grasses. You’ll be able to see results within hours and this weed killer won’t travel through the soil to kill nearby plants. Corn gluten meal is sold as a preemergence herbicide in some production systems. However, because of the volume of product necessary and the associated cost, corn gluten meal is generally not practical for larger crop production. Commercially available nonsynthetic postemergence herbicides contain plant-based ingredients, including eugenol (clove oil), garlic, and citric acid, and act as nonselective contact-type herbicides. They will injure or kill all vegetation they come in contact with.

Nonsynthetic adjuvants (such as surfactants and wetting agents) can be effective in weed management. The need for the use of herbicides derived from plant or animal sources should be explained in your Organic System Plan, and you must obtain permission from your organic certifying agencies to use these materials. Here is a list of EPA approved organic herbicides: Matratec (50% clove oil) WeedZap (45% clove oil + 45% cinnamon oil) GreenMatch EX (50% lemongrass oil) Avenger Weed Killer (70% d-limonene; the first Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed and Grass Killer apparently will eliminate any type of weed. It contains 20-percent acetic acid and is four times stronger than traditional table vinegar

For information on the latest organic approach to killing weeds naturally, visit and the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). They list natural weed killers - most of which are non-toxic and odorless, and once sprayed, immediately travels to the root of the weed to work its magic. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a private, nonprofit organization that determines whether or not a product qualifies as organic under the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). Goods that are found to comply are listed on the OMRI Brand Name Products List (BNPL). The list is used by certifiers, growers, manufacturers and suppliers to confirm that an item is approved for organic use according to USDA rules.

Green Gobbler is a product made up of 20% Vinegar and is considered a non-selective weed killer. Green Gobbler 20% Vinegar is a natural and organic weed killer made with vinegar, salt, and soap. It is glyphosate-free, non-toxic, and biodegradable, making it a safe and effective alternative to traditional chemical weed killers. Green Gobbler 20% Vinegar is also a powerful cleaner that can be used to clean a variety of surfaces around the home and garden.

Here are some of the benefits of using Green Gobbler 20% Vinegar:

  • It is a natural and organic weed killer that is safe to use around children and pets.

  • It is glyphosate-free and non-toxic.

  • It is biodegradable and will not harm the environment.

  • It is a powerful cleaner that can be used to clean a variety of surfaces around the home and garden.

Make Your Own Earth-Friendly Weed Killer. A mixture of salt, dish soap and vinegar can be used as a spot treatment for weeds. Concentrated vinegar is a good choice because it is stronger than the typical household variety. This natural method for controlling weeds is to use a mixture of salt, dish soap, and vinegar. This mixture is effective against a variety of weeds, and it is relatively safe to use around children and pets. To make the mixture, simply combine equal parts salt, dish soap, and vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle well to mix the ingredients. Then, spray the mixture directly on the weeds. The salt will dehydrate the weeds, the dish soap will help the mixture adhere to the leaves, and the vinegar will act as a surfactant. It is important to note that this mixture will not kill the weeds' roots. However, it will kill the above-ground portion of the weed, which will prevent it from growing back.

The best time to apply the mixture is on a hot, sunny day. This will help the mixture to work more effectively.

You may need to reapply the mixture several times to completely kill the weeds.

Here are some tips for using salt, dish soap, and vinegar as a weed killer:

  • Use a spray bottle to apply the mixture. This will help you to control the amount of mixture that you use.

  • Be careful not to get the mixture on desirable plants.

  • Do not apply the mixture to wet leaves. This will dilute the mixture and make it less effective.

  • Reapply the mixture as needed.

Roundup Alternatives

Consumer Notice, (here is their website address: has provided useful information on Roundup alternatives without glyphosate. These alternatives are available and can be effective. Organic brand options use naturally occurring oils or acids, and some alternatives can even be made with household ingredients. Farmers may find it easier to use different herbicides or farming methods. Read the full article here:

Another Point of View

Are weeds (forbs) really that bad? Another, more gracious term a "weed" is a forb. A forb is a non-wooded, broad-leaved plant other than grass, especially one growing in a field, prairie, or meadow.

Provide shade, make compost and leave the weeds: six ways to heatproof your garden!

If you are trying to grow garlic, the answer is yes. If we were not growing garlic, we may notice that nature provides these "weed" plants for a reason. Their roots bind soil particles together and keep them from being blown or washed away. Plants with deep taproots break up the soil, improving its structure, and draw up nutrients, improving life for their neighbors. Roots capture water and store it in the soil. In this moist environment, beneficial microbes are able to go about their work in improving soil and plant life. Some weeds provide habitat for other beneficial organisms that provide natural and biological control of certain insect pests. Many of the plants we now call weeds did the dirty work in reviving ecosystems, establishing rapidly to protect and restore soil that had been left exposed by natural disturbances, like landslides or fires. There are thousands of plants that will grow and thrive with absolutely no human assistance. For the soil, all vegetation is good. The plants we call weeds provide a lush blanket of green and can quickly spread over the earth as a healing agent. It’s not much different from a scab on our knee, healing the wound. If left uninterrupted, your garlic patch, garden, the native plant community, scarred forest, prairie or mountain foothills, will eventually restore themselves.

More Resources

Here is a link to an article that provides a possible solution to ‘Permanently kill weeds’ using three ‘everyday household items’ - ‘they won’t come back!’

Cambridge University Weed Science:

Knowing the Weeds that Grow in your Garden and Understanding weed biology is an important step in developing a preventive reduction plan. Some weeds are vulnerable, others are very resilient. Positive identification and knowledge of weeds and their life cycle and reproduction can help us develop management methods.


Wallace, W.S. Curran, D.A. Mortensen, M.J. VanGessel, and B.A. Scott. 2020. Alternative performance targets for integrating cover crops as a proactive herbicide-resistance management tool. Weed Sci. 68: 534-544. DOI: 10.1017/wsc.2020.49.

Moore, V.M., J.E. Maul, D. Wilson, W.S. Curran, D.C. Brainard, T.E. Devine, S.B. Mirsky. 2020. Registration of “Purple Bounty" and “Purple Prosperity" hairy vetch. J. Plant Registrations 14:340-346 (

Wallace, J., S. Isbell, R. Hoover, M. Barbercheck, J. Kaye, & W. Curran. 2020. Drill and broadcast establishment methods influence interseeded cover crop performance in organic corn. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 1-9. doi:10.1017/S174217052000006X.

Champagne, R.J., J.W. Wallace, W.S. Curran, and B. Baraibar. 2019. Agronomic and economic tradeoffs between alternative cover crop and organic soybean sequences. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 1-9. doi:10.1017/S1742170519000437.

Reed, H.K., H.D. Karsten, W.S. Curran, J.F. Tooker, and S.W. Duiker. Planting green effects on corn and soybean Production. 2019. Agron. J. 111: 2314-2315.

Caswell, K., J. Wallace, W. Curran, S. Mirsky, and M. Ryan. 2019. Cover crop species and cultivars for drill interseeding in the Mid-Atlantic corn and soybean. Agron. J. 111: 1060-1067.

Wallace J., W. Curran, and D. Mortensen. 2019. Cover crop effects on horseweed (Conyza canadensis) density and size inequality at the time of herbicide exposure. Weed Sci. 67: 327338.

Parker, E.T., M.D.K. Owen, M.L. Bernards, W.S. Curran, L.E. Steckel, and T.C. Mueller. 2018. A comparison of symmetrical and asymmetrical triazine herbicides for enhanced degradation in three midwestern soils. Weed Sci. 66:673-679.

Tags: Garlic, hardneck garlic, softneck garlic, cultivars, varieties, garlic types, montana garlic, hardneck grown, when to plant, zone 4, zone 5. Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, California. Tags: #Garlic, #Hardneck, #GarlicFarm, #LocalFarming, #StoringGarlic, #WhentoHarvestGarlic, #Storage, #Curing, #CuringGarlic, #FarmersMarket, #Ranch, #Farm

Jere Folgert is the owner of GroEat Garlic Farm in Bozeman, Montana. GroEat Farm is a small, sustainable family farm located in the beautiful Hyalite Foothills, in the shadows of the Gallatin Mountain Range. The hardneck varieties that they grow on their farm flourish, due to the combination of the cold winters, temperate summers, moist spring, and the dynamic alluvial soils, washed down from the Gallatin Range.  garlic
Hardneck Garlic Grown in Montana

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