Garden maintenance is often viewed as a necessary evil, but I think that opinion should be rethought. I like to call this part of garden work “caretaking.” It’s a great way to feel refreshed and alive, exercising your body and your spirit, and giving your mind time to rest from daily work and hassles. Weeding represents continuation, as you shape the garden into a reflection of your relationship with the plants living there.
You will find that some time is required for garden maintenance, but often herb gardening is less time-intensive than vegetable and flower gardening. And the reward is immediate, as you get the gratification of a tidy garden and plants that are healthy and thriving. The plants will appreciate your handiwork, and the results of your efforts will leave you smiling.
Spring moisture is usually followed by warm temperatures. This means weeds begin to grow. When my daughter was little, she used to believe that the weed fairy came every night and danced over the garden, planting seeds to grow weeds. She may have been right. Weeds never seem to have any difficulty growing, and they pop up almost overnight.
Weeds can be a problem if you let them get out of control. The good news is that if you stay on top of the situation, the task of weeding is not a big deal and actually becomes a part of the many therapeutic benefits the garden offers us.
The bad news is that there are few natural herbicides that meet certified organic standards and are safe to use in your garden. Do not be deceived by companies that promote their weed-killing products as earth-friendly and with no residual effects. Upon closer look, you will discover that these products are not harmless. They often kill beneficial insects and pollinators like honeybees, and many times the company will say in the cautions not to use near water supplies. This is because these products can be damaging to water quality and toxic to water wildlife like fish, frogs and salamanders (all of which are great critters for gardeners to welcome, as they help manage insect pests).
Even with all of the new products on the market, there aren’t any safe chemical herbicides. There are a number of ways, however, by which you can keep weeds under control and rest assured that the plants you harvest have not been subjected to dangerous chemicals and are safe to use for foods, medicines, body-care products and other herbal applications. By utilizing nonchemical weeding methods, you will also have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are taking care of your piece of the earth in a responsible and ethical fashion. What better reason can there be for doing the job by hand?