Well the funky weather has created a weird pattern in my garden. The perennials are taking their time waking up, but the fruit trees all burst into flower at the same time. Then the heat and lack of rain added a little stagnation – to everything but the weeds. My goodness, the garlic mustard, ground ivy, chickweed, and the dreaded bindweed sprang up and went to flower over night.
Where do they all come from? And how do we get rid of them.
Sadly, there are only 3 approaches to this problem.
1 – Prevent them from getting in your yard and garden – not easily accomplished.
2 – Pull them. Ugh.
3 – Spray them. Double ugh.
For a plan of attack, you need to know if it is an annual weed or a perennial.
Annual weeds can be controlled if we catch them before they flower and go to seed. Once they produce seed, they can be spread near and far by birds, your dog and even your own clothing. They are notorious for clinging to passers-by. All they need to do is find a bare patch of ground and they will take hold and grow.
So the best approach for annual weeds is to get down on your knees and pull them – early. Fry the whole bunch in a plastic garbage bag left in the sun for a few weeks – then start all over again. You could also use a hoe to cut them off at the roots, although this could take several tries before the plant throws in the towel. Eventually they will start to fade out.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are cool weather annual weeds and others won’t show up until the weather warms. The warm season annual weeds won’t start growing until later in the spring, but they’ll stick around all season and you’ll have amble time to pull them before they flower.
It’s the cool season weeds that are really tricky. They can sprout in the fall or in the spring and usually go to flower in late spring or very early summer. You think they’ve disappeared after that, but you’ll see them germinating again in the fall and starting their cycle all over again. You really have to catch them before they flower and go to seed.
Some annual weeds you will likely encounter include: chickweed, crab grass, knotweed, lambs-quarters, mallow, pigweed, purple deadnettle, groundsel, nettle (common), purslane, speedwell, spurge and yellow oxalis.
Perennial weeds are a tougher job. Since they don’t die at the end of the season, they have really healthy root systems. So they don’t just spread by seed, they let their roots creep about your garden. And if you try and pull them – and miss a piece of the root – that root piece can grow into another plant. Perennial weeds are survivalists.
It takes a lot of fastidious hand pulling to get rid of perennial weeds. Sometimes it’s easier to simply carry your shuffle hoe with your every time you go into the garden and hoe them all off at the surface. This won’t kill the roots, but if you keep at it, it will eventually exhaust the plant (if you’re not exhausted first) and the weed will succumb.
Perennial weeds to be on guard for include: bindweed, burdock, dandelion, dock, ground ivy, horsetail, Japanese knotweed, plantain, poison ivy, quackgrass, thistle, ragweed
Perennial weeds are usually the first to sprout in the spring. It’s not everyone’s idea of getting out in the garden, but if you can start pulling them in early spring, you’ll be well ahead of the game.
We will never be weed free, but you can tame the beast if you get in the habit of pulling a few weeds every time you are in your garden. Hey, maintenance is 90% of gardening – and we love it.