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  Weeds for You & Me
  May 14th, 2005

A Weed or Not a Weed, That is the Question

A weed is any plant growing where you don’t want it to be. That can include flowers too!

Why weeds are a problem:

They are aggressive, look bad and crowd out desirable plants. Some are toxic and attract pests as well. This month we will get some hints about how to remove them.

Annual weeds are like annual flowers. Their life cycle is complete when the flowers go to seed. Removal when they are young, before they go to seed, will be much more successful.

Since many prefer to grow organically, myself included, perennial weeds are more of a problem. If you remove them, roots and all, when they are young you can eventually get rid of them. If they have a tap root get it all or they’ll be back! Dandelion and stinging nettle, for example, have taproots.

Some favorite flowers can become weeds if their growth becomes out of control. Vines are an example, especially the beautiful morning glory vine. They can choke out their neighbors – but are so beautiful they’re worth the trouble. Just keep an eye on them if they start getting carried away. Be prepared to do a little clipping and guiding. They’re great for covering old fences, sheds and tree stumps. Perennial morning glories are best; the annual types drop lots of seeds.

And some plants that are normally considered weeds have their uses! Consider clover. Although it is thought of as a weed in your lawn, it works great as a “cover crop” for a bare spot to enrich the soil. When you turn it in, it has nitrogen fixing qualities. And purslane is considered a weed, but it is edible! You might want to consider transplanting some of your weeds instead of getting rid of them completely.

Fighting back against weeds:

Weeds are seasonal, just like some insect pests. Sometimes the time of year gives a clue to their identification. In the summertime, for instance, you will see purslane and spurge. These are annuals — hoeing, mulching and hand picking (before they go to seed) are usually successful. Hint – if you’re turning your soil, don’t go too deep or you may bring up dormant weed seeds to the surface.

Seeds need moisture and warmth (the sun) to sprout. so a good thick mulch will do much to prevent weeds. Or you can pick weeds when they are small and, with a little elbow grease, you may be able to avoid chemical control. But be sure to get the roots – or they will be back. We also carry many effective herbicides – but if you are unsure of what weed(s) you are fighting, please talk with our professionals before using one. The wrong choice will not work as effectively (or at all) and may harm desirable plants.

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