Our acreage used to be pastureland. Here in Kansas, that means weeds. Keeping the weeds at bay is the single most time consuming task in my “lawn” and garden – and no doubt in yours!
And it’s not my favorite chore. I have not-so-fond memories of weeding around my mother’s prized fruit trees. By the time weeding gets serious, the weather has turned hot and the bugs are out in force. Still, weeding has become a “must-do” part of my routine. Once they get away from me, I might as well hang up my hoe. Now that I have lots of time, I have a commitment to weed at least two hours a day. No matter. I continue to look for that “magic bullet” for weeds.
Sadly, I haven’t found one, though I did learn a lot at the Miami County Extension Master Gardener class on weeds. Not surprising, I’m doing some things right and a lot more things wrong.
So what is a weed? Some wonderful definitions from class. A weed is a plant that is not valued where it’s growing or a plant that you can’t get rid of no matter how hard you try! And my favorite “that’s not really a weed” story: about ten years ago, my friend Lenora gave me a wonderfully invasive vine when I needed privacy on a lattice fence. I’m still picking new vines out of my lawn!
So, what did I learn about weeds? First and most important, use a lot of mulch. Two to three inches of mulch will prevent weed seeds from getting the sunlight needed to germinate. Mulch also keeps the soil cool and holds moisture; good for the desirable plants!
Second, I need to sharpen the “blade” of my hoe. Like a lot of people, I turn the soil when I hoe around plants. This brings new seeds to the surface, giving me a bumper crop of new weeds.
Finally, the type and timing of chemical treatment depends on weed type. Is that weed an annual or a perennial? Is it grass, broadleaf or spurge? Take dandelions, for instance. We sprayed about an acre of dandelions in the spring and, yes, by now we can’t see them. Since dandelions are (apparently) an annual that germinates in the fall, spraying in October will prevent that carpet of yellow next spring.
So many different kinds of weeds. So much to learn!
Special thanks to Lenora Larson of Longlips Farm for identifying my various “interesting” weeds and a shout-out to Dennis Patton, Johnson County KS extension agent, for a great presentation.