Thursday, July 10, 2014

Weeding Tips

Weeding—the dreaded job.  I hate it and I’ll do almost anything I can to make it as easy as possible.  In a previous blog post dated May 19th, I explained how I do most of my weeding in the spring which is a proactive approach. Do it once—and you don’t have to do it again. (No, I’m not kidding.) But if time didn’t have time for that or you’ve just acquired a weed-infested perennial garden, then here are a few tips:

Get them when they’re young.  The best time to yank a week out of the ground is when it is small and the roots have yet to be established.  The longer you let the offensive weed grow, the bigger the root system and the more nutrients it will pull from the soil, thus depriving your plants of needed water and vitamins.

Weed when the ground is wet.  Like after a long summer rain or a thorough watering.  The key is to pull out the entire plant, roots and all.  But if the top 3 or 4 inches of the ground is hard and dry, the plant will break off leaving a portion of the root below ground . . . and I will promise you, the weed will reappear. A moist ground makes it easier to pull the whole plant from its moorings.

Forget the hoe. Some individuals—my husband included—believe it’s easier to chop the weeds off with the hoe.  This may help deter the spread of a weed, even keep it from going to seed, and in a pinch be the answer.  However, as I just explained, it doesn’t get to the “root” of the problem—or the root of the weed.

Tackle the worst first. The important thing to remember is—weeds spread.  Whether it’s by reseeding themselves or the attack of an invasive root system, they multiply and increase in size. So analyze your garden, pick the area that has the largest weed penetration, and start there.

Yes, there is a garden under there.  If you have more weeds than plants, it may mean you’ll need to take the aggressive approach. If this is the case, I have found it easier to dig out the plants I want to keep, pull as many weeds as possible, and re-till the ground.  The key to that is to rake out the pieces of roots and leaves left behind prior to replanting my plants or the weeds may reappear. Also, make sure there are no weeds integrated into the plants before putting them back into the ground. I know this sounds hard, but it is much, much easier than trying to eradicate weeds that have taken over a patch of ground.

Mulch and mulch often.  I believe in the power of mulch.  It keeps the roots of your plants cool and moist, but it also deters weeds from growing. This is the best weed deterrent I know.  If you mulch right after you weed, it will almost eliminate the need for heavy weeding for the rest of the summer.

Pat yourself on a job well done.  But, never assume your weed woes are over.  Revisit a site frequently for weeds determined to resurface. I know I promised you only have to weed once a year, and if you catch the weeds early followed by a heavy coat of mulch, your hours of weeding and re-weeding are over. However, I always make it a point on my nightly walk around my gardens to pull what weeds I have overlooked or sprouted in the interim—because they will come!

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