Gardeners growing edible plants in a garden have a special challenge when grass and weeds threaten to encroach on the plants. Because you should not use herbicides around garden plants, your options for weed control lie with mechanical and horticultural controls. Remove the grass and weeds by disturbing or pulling them or smother them with thick mulch. Many gardeners opt to use both options for a complete and effective way of removing grass and weeds around edible plants.
Water the growing area thoroughly approximately 24 hours before you plan to pull weeds. Alternatively, wait until after a soaking rain to pull weeds. Both options will provide a loose soil that will more easily release the weeds as you pull them.
Pull the grass and weeds by hand around your edible plants. Grasp the unwanted growth close to the crowns and pull so that you remove the entire plant including the root from the soil. Discard the plants in the garbage bin as you pull them.
Use a hand rake or hoe to skim the top inch of the soil often. This disturbs the small seedlings as they begin to grow among your edible plants. Leave the small seedlings to dry in the sun on the disturbed soil and they will die. Skim the soil once or twice per week.
Apply between 3 and 4 inches of shredded mulch on the soil around your edible plants to smother grass and weeds and discourage new growth. Spread a thick, even carpet of mulch over all exposed soil to control undesired plants. Over time as you continue to skim the soil with the hand rake or the hoe, you will be working the mulch into the soil. This will add nutrients to the soil and benefit it. Reapply the mulch as necessary to keep it at least 3 inches thick.
Monitor the growing area daily and remove new grass and weeds as you see them. Pull them by hand, use the hand rake or hoe to disturb the seedlings.