Category Archives: Weeds

Weeding Blues

Weeding - 2

I left my  garden during the height of the summer for a month. The weather was hot and rainy while I was gone evident by the profusion of weeds I found when I came back.  Photo is not great, but yes, there is basil under all those weeds!  At first I could not even see the plants from the weeds.  This particularly pesky weed is Prostrate Knotweed, Polygonum aviculare. An annual weed, it spreads widely and very difficult to eradicate. Just finding the root is a real challenge!It covered all my vegetable beds even in places where I had laid black weed prevention cloth.I also found abundant Crabgrass some plants as wide as a child’s swimming pool! Not exaggerating… In my perennial beds, Prostate Spurge, Euphorbia maculata, Ground Ivy, Healall, Deadnettle, Dandelion and my archenemy, Canada Thistle! Clearly, I had a lot of work ahead!

Weeding - 1

Here, one small area after weeding.

This brings me to the purpose of this essay. WEEDING. It requires tenacity, discipline and above all, the right frame of mind. To all those who have asked, no, there are no shortcuts. I always advise against using synthetic herbicides . Besides affecting our health and that of our beloved pets, they disrupt the delicate web connecting the millions of organisms that populate our soil.  I do recommend the use of organic controls such as corn gluten which is a pre-emergent that prevents seed from germinating. A very economical -and eco friendly-  homemade herbicide mix I use: 1 Gallon vinegar, 1/4 cup of Dawn and 2 cups of epson salts. Mix in sprayer and apply.  Works quite well on hard surfaces like  brick patios and driveways, or applied directly on deep rooted weeds like dandelion. Best sprayed on a sunny day. A cover of mulch on bare areas is a good option too. Here are some more tips to make weeding more manageable:

Be consistent.  Pull them when you see them and do not let them go to seed or you will have them forever.

Get those roots. If you are doing the work, might as well get the whole plant.  Most can regenerate within weeks if some of the root is left behind.

Do one area at the time.  This has the benefit of giving you that sense of accomplishment by seeing your results without being overwhelming. You will be surprised by what you can accomplish in just one hour a day.

Plant densely. Weeds are opportunistic.  If there is available exposed soil they will be the first to populate.  So use perennial ground covers in the front of your borders to keep them out.

Make the best of it. Look at all the positive aspects:  Spending time outdoors, can be a great workout once you incorporate some stretching and moving around, music or podcasts really help, my IPod happens to be an indispensable tool when weeding. Or just tune in to the sounds of nature. I am always surprised of how much is going even in a very small garden! So, get “in the zone”and weed on…

“Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be.  Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony.  It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have encountered a relative’s latest example of unreasonableness.”  ~Christopher Lloyd, The Well-Tempered Garden, 1973

 

 

July Garden

 

The mixed border

The mixed border: Echinacea, Yarrow, Monarda, Coreopsis and Rudbeckia

 

In July the garden is filled with activity.  My perennial beds are in full bloom and the pollinators are out in force performing their annual dance from bloom to bloom.  Thanks to my resolve to have a complete organic garden, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are abundant and collecting nectar for their daily sustenance and the birds are busy in and out of the plants looking for food for their broods.  It is a whole world of complex life out there.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Equinacia.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Echinacea.

All photos in this post courtesy of the very talented photographer, Audrey Davis.

Busy Bumble Bees

Busy Bumble Bees

As many of you have noticed, our hot steamy weather and tons of rain, have promoted and abundance of weeds as well.  Just the kind of weather they need to thrive.  I have spent most of the last week revisiting all my beds and doing a thorough clean up of all emerging weeds.  The thing is, we must get them before they bloom and are able to set seed.  You will save hours of weeding in the fall and next year by weeding now.  For all of you who hate this particular chore, my advise is get yourself some good music or book on your iPod, wear something cool, and consider it your exercise  for the day.  Take a little time to observe wildlife while you are out there!

Euphatorium dubium, Joe Pye weed.

Eupatorium or Joe Pye weed.  A favorite of all pollinators.

Hemerocallis, Day Lilly.

Hemerocallis or Day Lilly. My personal favorite variety.

“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day-like writing a poem or meditating”   Anne Morrow Lindberg

More Weeds?

Weeding in the spring seems to be never ending.  If you are lucky to have a landscaper that comes to edge and mulch, you are free to battle the war on weeds.  This year has been a bonanza for those opportunistic invasive plants that benefited from a very mild winter. Do I say this every year? Here is my rant about Garlic Mustard just last year.  although, I noticed that I wrote that in May, and that was an eye opener to me, as I have been weeding since March this year.

wavy bittercress, woodland bittercress Deutsch...

Bittercress, Cardamine pratensis

The worst offender this so far, and also a close relative of Garlic Mustard, and from the same family, Brassicaceae, is  Bittercress or Cardamine pretenses, also known as Cuckooflower, for the crazy way in which it bursts and tosses its seeds in all directions, just like Garlic Mustard.  And, it is everywhere:  In lawns, garden beds, paths and in between garden pavers.  It is a ferny floret with a ten to twelve inch shoots topped with small white flowers (Granted, early pollinators benefit from this early bloomer). But as with all invasive weeds, the ideal is to pull then before they set seed.  Fortunately this plant comes out very easily.  Mulch or plant your beds densely so there is not too much available real state for the unwanted weeds to establish.  Not my favorite pastime, I make it more bearable by listening to music or a good book while I work.  So I soldier on and dream of a day when I am finally done and I can flop on a chair and admire my work.

“A good garden may have some weeds.”
Thomas Fuller