How Does Your Garden Grow?

Methods to control weeds

By Katherine Clarkson
Posted 8/7/20

What type of plant produces multitudes of seeds, establishes rapidly, and can flourish in conditions where other plants would fail? I am referring to a weed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson described a weed …

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

Methods to control weeds

Posted

What type of plant produces multitudes of seeds, establishes rapidly, and can flourish in conditions where other plants would fail? I am referring to a weed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson described a weed as a plant whose virtue has not yet been discovered. After devoting a day toiling in the blistering sun pulling out these intruders, it’s challenging to detect anything virtuous about them. However, there are effective weed control methods and the first is to let sleeping weeds sleep.

Digging and cultivating brings hidden weed seeds to the surface, allowing them to sprout. When you remove a weed, cut at the root with a sharpened tool and cause little soil disturbance.

Keep in mind that some weed seeds can live dormant in the soil for decades. For example, 11 mustard seeds germinated that were from mustard excavated from a monastery garden 600 years ago.

This next method to be discussed keeps weeds in the dark. Whether you use wood chips or shredded bark, mulch will smother out the weeds by bereaving them of light. Adding 2 inches of mulch will not only act as a weed preventive, but it can also help keep your soil moist. It is imperative not to apply over 3 to 4 inches of mulch; it can deny your soil of oxygen. Some light will pass through your mulch so weed, when the weeding is good.

Have you ever heard of the saying, “Pull when wet, hoe when dry?” There is truth in that because when the soil is wet, weeds are more prone to come out by the roots. Using a garden hoe when the soil is dry allows you to cut out the dry wilted weeds.

Another vital element to take into consideration before you weed is identification. Is it an annual or perennial? Annual weeds typically spread by seed, are carried into your garden by your four-legged friend, or even by sticking to your clothing. Sunny days are perfect to clear away annual weeds and do so with a sharped edged device. Just slice the weed about an inch or two below the surface before they go to seed. Then let the sun shrivel them up.

Perennial weeds have powerful and strong roots, often taproots, which help anchor plants and protect them from the wind. These roots are powerful enough to anchor a plant to withstand a tornado. Last, if you are seeking a weed control method that can lessen stress, lop off their heads.

If you do not have adequate time to eradicate weeds, the next best thing is to chop off their heads. Cutting off the tops of perennial weeds will buy you some time before it goes to seed and spreads. This also forces them to use up food reserves and exhaust their supply of root buds, thus hindering their spread. Besides these techniques, enriching your soil with organic matter will help prevent weeds. Oddly, weeds do not germinate well in soil that contains good compost and organic matter. 

If you are clearing on a wild and weedy area, the initial season will be an arduous one. Your schedule might look something like this, Monday kill weeds, Tuesday kill weeds, Wednesday kill weeds …

No need to worry — your time, energy, and vigorous toil will pay off! Or perhaps your garden is established, then these tips will help you maintain a weed-free flowerbed. Thank you for reading and if you have questions please reach out to me at katheirneclarkson2@gmail.com.

 

(Katherine Clarkson is president of the Park County Master Gardeners. She lives in Wapiti.)

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