WEEDS! The battle starts in the spring. Weeds are the first to germinate, they survive freezing temperatures and drought and rob nutrients and water from the crops. I have gotten a lot of questions about how we are going to deal with weeds in the garden. It is something we are already dealing with and something we have thought about A LOT!
Not all weeds are created equal. Some I know I can handle easily while others require strategy, constant diligence and some special anger. It is all about knowing and understanding the enemy and having the best weapons to destroy them.
Kochia, redroot, lambsquarter, mustards, burr buttercup or cheatgrass: All of these are annoying to look at but easily cleared with a hoe while they are small. Stop the seed cycle for a couple years and you can start to see dramatic gains in these weed populations on your property. These germinate in waves based on temperature and tillage so I have learned to handle them at the opportune moment (miss this perfect window and they become much more trouble).
Quackgrass, morning glory, goats head, thistle and common mallow: A dangerous group that is much more time consuming to fight. Most of these show up on the state’s Noxious Weed list and for good reason. Hoeing isn’t very effective and they can take over an area in short order.
What have I already done this spring to get a jump on the weeds?
· I scout and monitor constantly. While the boys play in the dirt, I wander and make mental notes. It is a great way to drink a cup of coffee on summer mornings! I know exactly where I have problems and where I don’t.
· I have started to protect my borders. While I do not spray in the garden, I do use chemicals to keep areas around the buildings clear. This prevents fire hazards in the fall and also reduces the potential seed bank that will blow to the garden areas. (I am constantly jealous of high rain fall areas that can have mown grass growing right up to barns and machine sheds.)
· I have attacked the quackgrass in my flower beds. I have 2 very specific areas in my flower beds that have a little quackgrass (I know my problem areas). NOTHING is transplanted out of these beds to a new area. Containment, containment, containment. Digging these weeds (getting every little root) 2 or 3 times a year has been very effective for me. I have spotted some quackgrass in the expanded garden that I am very concerned about…we will see as the summer proceeds.
· I am slowly making my way around the garden borders chopping out any mallow that over-wintered.
· A blanket of kochia sprouted just before the potatoes popped through the surface. A quick raking in the soft dirt took out the majority of the little weeds in just a few minutes.
It sounds like a lot, right? Not really. Having a specific plan that attacks the most dangerous weeds early means my time in the garden is effective and the benefits will be seen in the upcoming months. I prefer spending the 15 – 30 minutes attacking a specific issue to starting at one point and working to the other end. Not having a plan has often resulted in me coming across a huge patch of weeds that will take all day to tackle that would have taken a few minutes 3 weeks earlier.
I make it sound easy, right? I fully anticipate wearing out a couple pairs of gloves and sharpening my hoe many times this summer. There are always those times in the summer when you get behind and the weeds look like they are going to win…good thing I am stubborn and enjoy the fight!
Do you have a weed that is causing you problems? Need help identifying it? Want to know how to destroy it? Do you have a great method for controlling weeds? Let us know!