Your garden is in and your seeds are finally starting to poke above the ground. . . hurray! But there’s also some other things growing in your garden, and frankly, you’re not sure which is which. While I can’t possibly know every single weed in North America, I can give you some tips and things you can try before planting to help you figure out which plants are weeds, and which plants are those vegetables you worked so hard to grow.
Write Down What You Planted Where in Your Garden Planner
Prevention is the best medicine, and the half the battle of figuring out if it’s a weed or a vegetable is knowing what you planted in the first place! There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a ton of little green bits coming up, only to realize you have totally forgotten what you planted! Now you have to wait a week or more to let everything grow so you can figure it out and hope that you get it right.
You can avoid this whole mess by documenting everything you grow. Download this free planner, which contains 4 different planning grids and lots of checklists and trackers for you to keep everything organized.
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Look for Plants That Are Growing in Rows or Patterns
Chances are, you didn’t just seed willy-nilly. You probably planted your vegetables in rows, or you used the seeding square if you’re square foot gardening. Yes, it’s possible that every plant didn’t germinate, but likely most of them did–enough that you can see some sort of pattern.
Using this example with the seeding square, you can see that the green plants make a pattern, and it’s easy to then determine what needs to go. Unfortunately, not every seed germinated and the birds are in love with my spinach.
When in Doubt, Let the Weeds Grow a Little Longer
Sometimes you just don’t know. There are some weeds that look exactly like vegetables, especially when they’re in the two leaf stage.
For example, spinach looks an awful lot like grass, and carrots look a lot like the weed that gets these cute little yellow cones on top of it. (Sorry, I don’t know the name!) In fact, that weed looks so much like carrots, that one year I let it grow until it started to get the yellow cone. I thought my carrot crop had come in so well that year, but once the difference was clear and I pulled the weeds out, and realized that I barely had any carrots.
Wait until the plant-in-question is in the four or six leaf stage. Usually by then you can easily figure it out.
Got a larger area to weed? Find my favourite weeding tool in this post of 10 Vegetable Gardening Essentials
Learn from Experience
The longer you garden, the more you’ll get to know what weeds in your area look like. You’ll also learn what different vegetables look like at different stages, and be able to pick weeds with confidence.
In the mean time, don’t worry if you pick a few vegetables along with the weeds. Every new gardener has done it at one point or another.Everyone picks some vegetables with the weeds.Click To Tweet
If you want extra help, join the Growing Roots Gardening Community on Facebook and post a picture of your “weed or plant” area. We have gardeners from all across North America, and even a few in Australia and the EU who are more than willing to help you out.
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Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.