Illinois gardeners find chemical-free way to control weeds

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Research from the University of Illinois Extension is finding a new way to battle an old problem.

Now there's a green way to get rid of weeds.

Weeds aren't welcome in the vegetable garden.

"Weeds are a problem for everybody," said Extension Educator Kyle Cecil.

They pop up.

"Foxtail is everywhere in the state of Illinois," he continued.

They spread and rob nutrients from the growing veggies.

"The whole goal is to keep these weeds controlled," he said.

That's why Cecil is trying a new technique at the UI Demonstration Farm in Monmouth. He's using a cover crop called Cereal Rye.

"You want to get it right before it heads out," he said.

They add garden fabric to do the trick.

"I never had any idea that we would have this good weed control," he said.

He planted the cover crop last fall.

"There's a lot of organic matter in there," he said.

It works wonders with the black fabric. They move the piece every two weeks. It provides season-long weed control without chemicals.

"There's virtually no weeds," he said.

This research will help commercial gardeners and backyard enthusiasts, all with the goal of creating better crops.

Cecil expects to get more veggies from the test farm garden. He'll harvest tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic and sweet corn from the same soil.

Some Western Illinois growers are trying the technique this year. It could especially help those who sell to farmers markets or restaurants.

"Any time you're going to be able to save on labor and not have to hand weed, it's going to be really an advantage," he concluded.

An advantage to help win the war on weeds with a garden triumph.