If you have a garden, you’re probably ready to head out to your backyard and start hoeing. But is there a better way? Some experts think so. Here are just a few of the myths about hoeing that we’ll debunk today.
Hoeing is necessary to prepare a garden bed.
Hoeing is not necessary to prepare a garden bed. You can do hoeing at any time, including before planting or after you have planted your garden. Hoeing is also done between plants. If you are planting a row of carrots, for example, and you need to hoe between the rows of carrots once they are established (after the first growing season), this would be considered hoeing.
Hoeing brings weeds up to the surface where they can be removed.
Hoeing weeds to the surface is another myth. If you’ve ever hand-weeded, then you know how difficult this can be. That’s why we recommend using a mulch layer or an herbicide instead of hoeing to control weeds in your garden. Weeds can be removed by these methods without disturbing the soil, allowing you to keep it healthy and productive for years to come!
Hoeing works deeper weeds out of the ground.
A hoe can be used to break up soil and weeds, but it won’t get deep-rooted weeds out of the ground. If you have a lot of these, you need to pull those weeds by hand or use another tool (like an old toothbrush) to dig them up before they reseed themselves and make matters worse.
Hoeing compacts the soil, which promotes good growing conditions.
Hoeing compacts the soil. This is bad for growing conditions. Compacting the soil makes it harder for water to penetrate, which can lead to plants that wilt or develop root rot. It also makes it harder for air to circulate and roots to grow over time.
Hoeing is the only way to keep weed seeds from germinating.
There are many ways you can manage weeds in your garden, but hoeing is not necessarily the best way to keep weed seeds from germinating. It’s important to remember that when you hoe, you’re actually breaking up the soil and making it easier for weeds to grow. In fact, if you do too much hoeing in one area of your garden, it’s more likely that some weed seeds will find their way into the disturbed soil than if you had left the ground undisturbed.
Although this may sound counterintuitive for a gardener who wants to keep his or her garden free of weeds, there are other methods that will help prevent germination without damaging your soil or breaking up its structure as much as using a hoe would. For example:
- Use mulch in certain areas of your garden where weeds tend to grow most often; this will smother any seedlings before they have a chance to come up through the topsoil.
- Plant cover crops like oats or buckwheat between rows of vegetables; these plants trap sunlight and nutrients so that other plants cannot compete with them for resources (and also provide nitrogen back into the soil).
You may not need to hoe after all!
The first myth is that you need to hoe in order to prepare a garden bed. But with good planning and preparation, you may be able to skip the hoe and save yourself some time.
The second myth is that hoeing weeds up to the surface will expose them so they can be removed. The truth is that most of the time, hoes don’t even reach down far enough for this to happen!
Finally, it’s not true that if you haven’t hoed your garden bed yet then all those pesky weeds from last year are still lurking beneath the surface waiting for their chance to start spreading again. When we say “down deep” we really mean it: hoed weed roots do not tend to go deeper than about six inches into the ground unless they have been disturbed recently by cultivation or other activities such as digging large holes for plants or turning soil over with a fork (which also does nothing for weeds).
We hope we’ve enlightened you about the myths surrounding hoeing, and hopefully, you’ll use this information to start an informed conversation with your local gardening experts. If you have to hoe after all, remember that it can be an excellent source of exercise and a great way to deepen your connection with the earth—but make sure not to compact that soil! We know there are many opinions out there about hoeing—and we definitely don’t agree with everything we read. As always, it’s important for you to do your own research and decide what works best for you.