Vegetable gardens require rich, nutritious soil, plenty of water and full days of sunshine for growing, and generally grow best during the summer season. All that nutrition and water encourages lush growth for vegetables and fruits, but also succors a range of uninvited guests. Weeds, grasses and pests take advantage of the garden's welcoming atmosphere and spring up around and even in vegetable plants. These weeds can steal moisture and nutrition from the vegetables, drain the soil and become unsightly problems. Instead of using synthetic herbicides, which can poison all plants, approach the problem in a natural, organic and safe way.
Cultivate the vegetable garden regularly with a rake or hoe, to dig up any encroaching weeds or grass. Rake the soil to a depth of 2 inches to keep from disturbing any vegetable plant roots, and pull all grass and weeds from the soil. Try to rake your garden at least once a week, to keep it healthy. Throw the grass and weeds away to keep them from spreading seeds. Do not put them in your compost pile.
Spread organic or plastic mulch in your vegetable garden. Use a layer of black plastic or 2 inches of organic mulch (wood chips, gravel, sawdust, straw). The mulch shades the ground and keeps weeds from taking root or growing. If you're using organic mulch that breaks down, replenish it once a month with a new layer.
Plant a crowded garden. Intense interplanting in the gardens takes up all available space and shades the ground, to discourage weeds and grass. Interplanting also increases your harvest.
Build a raised bed to keep soil clean and weed free. Lay 2 inches of newspaper on top of the old vegetable garden, then lay down 2 to 3 inches of peat moss, compost and quick-draining soil. Repeat this process at least twice to construct a raised bed, high above any old weed seeds or roots. Plant in the raised bed.