Your garden is in and your seeds are finally starting to poke above the ground… Hurray! But there are 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.
4 SIMPLE SOLUTIONS TO IDENTIFY IF IT’S A WEED OR A PLANT
1. use a Garden Planner
Prevention is the best medicine, and half the battle of figuring out if what’s growing is 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! Waiting a week or more to let everything grow so you can figure it out and hope that you get it right is not an efficient or enjoyable way to garden.
You can avoid this whole mess by documenting everything you grow! I have created two garden planners that I am really proud of: the Pretty & Practical Garden Planner and the Flower Farmer Garden Planner. No matter whether you are a beginner vegetable and flower gardener, a farmer florist with a successful cut flower business, or anywhere in between, I’ve got you covered! Writing down what you planted where is integral to any gardener’s success.
2. 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 (that you hopefully wrote down in your garden planner!) or used the seeding square if you’re square foot gardening.
Not every plant will germinate perfectly, but likely most of them will germinate enough that you will start to see a pattern begin to emerge. In the example with the seeding square below, you can see that the green plants make a pattern that makes it easy to determine what needs to be pulled and what can stay.
Plan the Perfect Garden
Get your free Garden Planner and worksheets and start creating the garden of your dreams.
3. 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 them. In fact, that weed looks so much like carrots, that one year I let it grow until it started to get the yellow cones. I thought my carrot crop had come in so well that year, but once the difference was clear and I pulled the weeds out, I realized that I barely had any carrots.
Wait until the plant-in-question is in the four or six-leaf stage. By then you can usually figure it out quite easily.
GOT A LARGER AREA TO WEED? FIND MY FAVOURITE WEEDING TOOL IN THIS POST OF 10 VEGETABLE GARDENING ESSENTIALS
4. 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 meantime, don’t worry if you pick a few vegetables along with the weeds. Every new gardener has done it at one point or another!
Just know that no matter how long you’ve been gardening, there will still be times when you are not 100% sure if it’s a weed or a plant, and that’s ok! It will make itself clear eventually.
If you want extra help, join the Growing Roots Gardening Community and post a picture of your “weed or plant” area. We have gardeners from all across North America and abroad who are more than willing to help you out! You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for regular vegetable and cut flower gardening advice and to follow my gardening journey in real-time!
Wish you could weed with confidence, knowing you weren’t accidentally pulling out your entire garden?
Weeds vs. Plants is a visual guide that will help you quickly identify the most common vegetables and flowers at the beginning stages, so you know exactly what to keep and can pull everything else. No more guessing!