1. K-State home
  2. »Research and Extension
  3. »Johnson County
  4. »Lawn and Garden
  5. »Agent Articles
  6. »Vegetables
  7. »Heat Waves and Humidity

Johnson County

Research-based Information You Can Trust — Localized for your needs

Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday,
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

(913) 715-7000
(913) 715-7005 fax

Map to our office

K-State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Johnson County Extension at (913)715-7000. Notify staff of accommodation needs as early as possible.

Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Weeding the Vegetable Garden

By Anthony Reardon

Among experienced gardeners, it goes without saying that weeding is essential. Although many people’s least favorite gardening task, weeding goes beyond making your garden look good. The practice assists your plants, mainly your fruits and vegetables. Essentially, you are encouraging the healthiest garden plants.

The technical definition of a weed is “a plant that is out of place.” But what hindrances do these ‘out of place’ plants bring about? As it turns out, it can be quite a bit.

Weeds act as energy siphons, deterring available water, nutrients, and sunlight from reaching their intended recipient –your fruits and vegetables. They also act as “pest hotels,” offering a safe harbor for insects that can otherwise be treated and accounted for, prolonging infestations. If you’re looking at the nitty-gritty of it, they can even encourage pathogen development as they maintain a more humid microclimate around your plants by preventing air movement.

When caring for fruits or vegetables, one of your primary thoughts should always be, “What are the outputs of my inputs?” Have you added the correct fertilizers for your soil to your garden? Great! You should now be seeing larger, healthier, more-productive plants as a result. Are you providing full sun and even soil moisture? Awesome! You should see non-leggy plants with uniform fruit. All these aspects become impeded as weed growth is allowed to persist, putting the outputs of your inputs elsewhere from their intended targets.

Though a touchy subject, there are both organic and inorganic options for weed control in your produce gardens. If you are going the inorganic route, spot spraying with glyphosate is your best bet, as this chemical does not tend to volatilize, where it evaporates and turns into a gas. It will stay applied to its intended target if you apply at a proper temperature and wind, in this case, 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit and (ideally) below five mph breeze.

Not a fan of inorganic chemicals near your produce? Understandable! Even the FDA will tell you that trace amounts of applied pesticides may remain in production even when the “waiting period” for deterioration has been observed. For you, your weed control will fall mainly into “mechanical” options –the labor that you can do to prevent weeds in the first place.

Once-a-week shallow hoeing of your garden soil will prevent sprouting plants from growing as their stems are severed. A thick layer of organic mulch (wood mulch, straw, shredded paper, etc.) will impede weed plants from sprouting in the first place, as they prevent sunlight from reaching the seedbed of the soil. And, yes, good old-fashioned hand pulling will also get the job done, so long as your back can tolerate the strain.

The month of July will see many weeds sprouting in gardens, as a vast majority of the plants favor heat. So, take care of those weeds today.

Return to Vegetables Agent Articles

Lawn and Garden Questions

Do you have lawn and garden questions? Please direct all gardening questions to our Garden Hotline, staffed by trained Extension Master Gardener volunteers and backed up by Extension staff who will assist you with your questions.


For more information, visit our page on composting.