We all love summer when we emerge from winter’s hibernation and begin tending our garden, planting seeds to grow fresh produce and planting colorful annuals. We are filled with excitement and ready to literally dig in with each new planting season.
Soon we start seeing signs of uninvited guest’s that planted themselves, perhaps having had help from birds, soil disruption or from seeds that have flown to our backyard on nature’s breeze’s and the looming task of ridding these weeds from our gardens and walkways begins. Almost overnight these unrelenting pests grow, threatening to take over our garden. They would if we didn’t intervene.
Here are some ways I’ve managed these invaders in my garden.
Mulch: A layer of cypress mulch spread early in the season immediately provides a fresh look and works wonders at suffocating unwanted seedlings. The mulch layer works best if it is 4-5 inches deep around the base of emerging perennials that have started to grow.
Old Fashioned Hand Weeding: For some folks, including myself, getting out and spending time pulling weeds is a great way to relax, a good excuse to get outside, plus something is accomplished all at the same time. Wetting the ground beforehand or going out soon after a rain helps to get both weed and root system out easily and intact.
Herbicides: Roundup is a popular weed killer that is liked by some, not so much by others. I admit I use it here and there. I limit its use to areas away from my house and vegetable garden and use it where weeds grow in areas mulched with rocks. It’s a product that claims it becomes inactivated when it lands on the soil. Sprayed on the weed Roundup is drawn into the plant, delivered down into the root system and destroys the plant. Shortly after application the weed becomes withered and dries. It can then be easily removed. If left alone it will eventually disintegrate on it’s own.
Distilled white vinegar works as a natural herbicide for those who prefer an organic solution. Sprayed directly on the unwanted plant the acid causes the plant to wither and die but the root system below will not be damaged and the plant may sprout again.
Be careful with these or other spray products as whatever is sprayed will suffer the effects of your bio-warfare attack. If by accident a non-weed is hit by your spray an immediate bath with fresh water from your garden hose will help to diffuse the effects. You may see the plant wilt but if washed off quickly you can usually resuscitate the affected plant as the poison has not worked it’s way down to the plant root system.
Fire: Fire is gaining popularity by some gardeners. Last season I purchased a long handled torch type thing that had a spike on one end. The idea was the ignited propane fueled torch would burn the weed and you would poke the hot spike into the ground, hoping to burn the root, giving the weed a dual attack. I was not a fan of this type of weed eradication. I felt it was very time consuming to rid a small area of weed’s and very tedious doing the spiking. I was also a bit afraid I would brush the ignited torch across my shoes if I did not pay close attention to where I was aiming it.
My sister sold the apparatus at her garage sale this spring. She told the gentleman who purchased it that I had not been impressed with it. He decided for a buck he would give it a try. She wished him good luck!
Hoe: Using a hoe is a great way to keep garden paths groomed. It’s fairly easy to maintain weed free path’s if you hoe as soon as weeds emerge. A sharp hoe with a long handle alleviates bending and an aching back. I use a hoe to disrupt sprouting weeds that take hold in my newly applied mulch. I work the sprout out and fluff up the mulch at the same time.
I confess hand weeding is my preferred method of keeping my flower and vegetable garden’s weed free. It may be the most time consuming but it is also the most thrifty. A pair of gloves, a beautiful afternoon and I am ready to get to work.
Hand weeding provides me the opportunity to enjoy my lovely garden up close. It’s a great way to monitor the health of my plants and watch Mother Nature’s season of summer unfold.