Serious Eats

The Urban Gardener: Weeding Stinks

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A lovely plot of weeds. With a few beet greens struggling through. [Photographs: Lauren Rothman]

My least favorite part of gardening is weeding. Sure, I try to get all zen about it, and just plop myself down in the dirt, tune out the cars on the highway nearby, and listen to the birds singing in the trees that line said highway. I strive to enjoy the sunshine warming my shoulders and back, and the feel of the soil, so rich with life-giving potential, pushing itself up under my fingernails. I attempt to take in everything that I see going on in the earth as my fingers rake through it—the worms and pillbugs fleeing for their lives (as fast as bugs can flee, anyway) as I, a giant mutant, dash apart their homes; I see if I can identify the loathsome plant species as I tear them out of the ground; I stay still as the mockingbird who lives nearby arrives, like clockwork, only a few minutes after I start messing around in the soil, to eat up those insects I've dislodged.

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Can you see 'em? Little crimson beet tops amid the green weeds.

And sometimes—sometimes—it nearly works. If it's a particularly nice day—warm, but not hot; dry and breezy—or if I've got nothing much else planned, I can almost manage to achieve the tranquility I so often find when engaging in other gardening tasks like watering, transplanting, staking, and checking for bugs. But, you see, I've never been a patient person. So it's hard for me to spend hours—and it can take hours—studiously examining and then ever-so-carefully plucking little plants from the ground.

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Oh hey, another forest of weeds—this one with carrots attempting to survive.

The thing is, weed control is absolutely essential to a thriving garden. Weeds rob each and every vital element—sunlight, water, and nutrients—from the plants you actually want to flourish, inhibiting their growth and development. So as tough as it can be sometimes, I make sure to squeeze in as many weeding sessions as my busy schedule will allow.

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Another Where's Waldo: can you spot the frilly carrot tops?

So today I'd like to humbly offer you some weeding tips. Here we go!

Weeding 101: Some Tips

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Weeds gone; beets found!

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Weeds gone; carrots found!

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The aftermath: huge pile of vanquished weeds.

Tomato Surprise!

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A sprouted-from-compost tomato seedling in the garden.

One fun thing I've discovered in the last week of weeding is that there are hardy little tomato seedlings popping up all over the garden—they've sprouted from seeds that were in my compost. Tomatoes are definitely my favorite edible crop that I grow, so I always leave them be—I'm not totally sure I'll have room for then once they grow large, but for now, they're staying (I've also found about a million summer and winter squash seedlings, also sprouted from compost, but I definitely don't have room for them).

What are Your Best Weeding Tips?

Share them in the comments below!

About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a freelance catering chef, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.

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