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Protecting New Garden Beds From Weeds

a garden bed border that prevents weed invasion

Weeds can be a problem in any garden. Weed seeds blow onto garden beds and germinate but luckily they're easy to pull out when they're young. Weeds that spread into your garden bed by runners can be harder to control. Here's one way you can help protect your garden beds.

Things you'll need:

  1. Pick a garden bed.
  2. Use your finger or a garden tool (or even a stick) to create 2 or 3 shallow trenchs or furrows that goes all the way around the outside of your bed. These furrows should only be at most, a finger's width apart. Roughly 2-3 cm (1 inch) is a good depth.
  3. Place lucerne seeds in each furrow so that they are very close together - no more than a centimetre (less than half and inch) between each seed - the closer the better.
  4. Cover the seeds with the soil that was displaced when you made the furrows.
  5. Make another 2 or 3 furrows just inside where you created the furrows for the lucerne.
  6. Fill these with barley seeds just like you did with the lucerne seeds - barley seeds are larger than lucerne seeds so you won't need as many
  7. Again, cover the seeds with the displaced soil
  8. Water in the seeds.
  9. Water daily until the seeds sprout. Barley only takes 3-7 days usually to sprout, lucerne takes a few extra days. Barley will only sprout one seed initially so don't confuse it for a weed.
  10. Plant whatever you want to grow in your garden bed. It's as easy as that!

The reason it works is because lucerne is deep rooted so it helps stop weed runners from creaping into the bed by physically getting in the road. Barley helps prevent weeds from moving in chemically. Barley is an annual and you can harvest the seeds for eating, to grow more barley or for feeding animals such as chickens. Lucerne is perennial so you don't need to replant it each year. That, coupled with its grassy nature, means that you can mow the lawn around your garden bed (if you have a lawn there) right up to the garden bed and it doesn't matter if you mow some of the lucerne. In fact this will release nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil, benefiting your plants and any cut lucerne can be used as a nutritious mulch for any area of your garden.

Other plants can be used instead of or as well as lucerne and barley. For more ideas check out this companion planting book.

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