Intensively planted raised beds do not require weeding as often as other types of gardens due to the living mulch that the plants create. Usually, our beds only need to be weeded once, about a month after the bed is planted. A bed prepared in a new area may have to be weeded more often at first, however, since many dormant seeds will be raised to a place in the soil where they can germinate readily. Over time, as the soil becomes richer and more alive, you will probably have fewer weeds, since they tend to thrive more in poor and deficient soils than in healthy ones.
There really is no such thing as a "weed." A weed is just a plant that is growing in an area where you, the gardener, do not want it to grow. In fact, many so-called weeds, such as stinging nettle, are quite beneficial to the soil and to other plants. (This will be discussed in more detail in "Companion Planting.") Instead of weeding indiscriminately, you should learn the natures and uses of the different weeds so you can identify and leave some of the most beneficial ones in the growing beds. Until they are removed, weeds help establish a more quickly nourishing miniclimate for your current crop. Add the weeds you pull to the compost pile. They are rich in trace minerals and other nutrients and will help grow good crops next season.
Weeds are generally hardier than cultivated plants since they are genetically closer to their parental plant stock and nearer to the origin of the plant species. They tend to germinate before broadcasted cultivated plants. You should usually wait to remove these plants from the beds until the cultured plants catch up with the weeds in height or until the cultured plants become established (about transplanting size)—which-ever comes first. Weeding before this time is likely to disturb the germinating cultured plant seeds or disturb the developing new root systems, causing interrupted plant growth and weakened plants. However, be sure to remove any grass plants that develop in the beds after the first weeding. These plants put out incredibly large root systems that interfere with other plants in the competition for nutrients and water.
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