Controlling weeds is more critical for small fruits than for nearly any other crop (except vegetables). Many fruits have shallow roots, which can't compete with more aggressive weeds for water and nutrients. Weeds also harbor insect pests that feed on your fruits. Perennial weeds often cause the most trouble because their roots persist from year to year and often sprout if even a small piece remains in the soil. Annual weeds come in the form of seeds blown by the wind or are carried by people, pets, birds, and rain.
Weeding a mature berry patch is a strenuous chore, because most of these plants have shallow roots that don't allow cultivation or that grow in such a way that hand-pulling each weed is the only solution. Weeding thorny brambles is an especially onerous job, so prevention is key. See Chapter 11 for information on controlling weeds.
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