Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds!

Does this...
                              Or this...
                                                      look familiar?

                           WEEDS, WEEDS, WEEDS ARE EVERYWHERE!!!

Now that the garden has been planted whether it was early, late or exactly on time, there is no stopping other plants that weren't planned to grow along with your garden and yes you guessed it...WEEDS!

Weeds are everywhere, they are not just in your garden, they are in your neighbors garden, down the street, across town, you get the picture.  Like I say, they are everywhere, but it's up to us in how we deal with them. It could be much more of a challenge if you had an area like this to weed by hand.

But even large areas like this can successfully beat out weed competition.

Some experienced gardeners are familiar with certain types of weeds that present themselves in the garden each year (you know who you are). You have all the tricks of the trade, however, there will be the odd time where there maybe a different type of weed that will attempt to exist in your garden, but if you catch it early enough you can prevent it from co-habitating which will later result in spreading. 

It's amazing how this time of year seems to train us into experts on weed ID. It is very important to know the types of weeds that make pests of themselves as this is part of your first defense on keeping control over what grows. You know, weeds aren't all that bad and please don't let the daunting task of weeding or worry about which is a weed and which is a plant deter you from planting a garden. What I always find works best is to get out there right away when the weeds are small and that will help make your garden more manageable. It is important to learn of the "repeat offenders"  as recognizing and eliminating them when they first emerge at a young stage will save you much anguish and long hours weeding during the growing season. This will also help you make sense of how to keep ahead of their growth and spreading characteristics making it easier to treat before it becomes an issue.


I'm sure most of you can ID the weed pictured on both left and right in its seedling and adult stages.

     As I mentioned, keeping ahead of the weeds is key in the success of growing your own vegetable or flower garden.  If you are new to gardening and have trouble with identifying a weed from a plant, you are not alone.  Instead of getting discouraged, think of this as a positive challenge as well as a learning experience. I have heard gardeners indicate that they don't mind pulling a few weeds. I can honestly say that I agree with them, as weeding is thought to be therapeutic and can be embraced as quiet time and reflection.  

We need to get out of the mindset that it all has to be done in one day and not think of it as a stressful job.  Besides it's our choice to grow a garden and with it comes this type of maintenance that will help our vegetable and flower gardens grow successfully and weed free like the one pictured to the left.

As I begin weed ID 101, year 2016, LOL...these are the types of weeds that have crossed my paths multiple times here on PEI and are quite common elsewhere.

The one to the left,                      
I'm sure you can
identify and have
 seen it many times
 in your own garden,
 is called Lamb's-
quarters, Chenopo-
dium album L.,  
annual species                                                          

                     This well known weed
                     to the right is called
                     Quack grass, Agropyron 
                     It can be a challenge to
                     eradicate as it has
                     underground rhizomes
                     otherwise known as 
                     horizontal creeping roots.                         


Another common 
weed to the left is 
known as chickweed. 
Chickweed, Stellaria 
media has a shallow
root system and is
generally easy to pull 
out the entire plant. 
Pulling out the whole
plant of any weed is 
essential for complete



                                 This one is very commonly
                                 seen in many types of gardens,
                                 it is called Capsella bursa-
                                 pastoris, otherwise known as


I'm sure many of
you can identify this
one. It even has set
a flower that can make
your garden more
vulnerable to being
polluted with multiples
of this weed. As I'm sure
you are all well aware
that Dandelions,  
Taraxacum officinale,
have two growth times 
during the growing

Pictured above is another assortment of weeds. The largest weed is called Broadleaf Plaintain as I'm sure many of you have seen not only in your garden but all through your lawn. As mentioned, the best way to manage these weeds is to identify them and pull them out as soon as possible. You may have your own method in weed control that works best for you from year to year. I could go on and on with identifying weeds because there are so many, but the ones mentioned above are most commonly seen anywhere.

The following is what I can describe as your best defense in protecting your garden from weed competition. As I had mentioned a few times, the first step in weed management is identification. Once you know what you are dealing with, it will make it much more manageable. 
When you start to weed, keep in mind of how the saying goes...get going, while the going's good! This applies in weeding practices as well. It is most beneficial and most effective to weed when it is hot and dry. During this weather, the weeds that are completely pulled by their roots to the surface, will dry out in the sun preventing them to re-establish. If they were pulled and left on the soil while it was still wet and cooler, they could possibly re-root and then you are no further ahead. You can still weed after it rains as the weeds pull out with ease,however I will recommend that if you do this you may want to gather the weeds instead of leaving them laying in your garden. Cool, moist weather will only aid these weeds to re-root and allowing them a chance to spread again.

Some weeds show a pretty little flower once they grow, but within this pretty little flower are numerous weed seeds that want to be released into the air to do their job of spreading. If you don't have time to dig the whole weed the best advice would be to clip the tops off as soon as possible. When time allows, you can go back and pull out the rest of the plant.

Many people choose to apply different types of mulch for their gardens, as this is a great defense against weeds. What mulch does to ward against weeds is that it provides a thick layer over the top of the soil making it hard for weeds to see light and emerge successfully. Mulch has many other benefits for your garden and can come in different forms.

In most gardens, especially flower gardens, choosing plant spacing according to the proper recommendations will help to impede weeds.  As the plants and foliage mature, plants will shade out weeds and compete making it harder for them to grow and prevent them from taking over. Keeping the soil healthy and enriched with organic matter  also benefits your garden and makes it harder for weed seeds to germinate. Weeds generally thrive in poor soil conditions, but find it hard to survive in healthy soil enriched with organic matter. Rich and well-drained organic matter is known to impede weed germination and growth, providing healthy  grounds for your plants.   

Now that you are a master of knowing what to do, it's time to put your skills into practice. You may ask what types of tools and supplies will provide you with the best defense for weeding.  There are many available and as it seems, each individual gardener has a favorite that seems to do the job just right. Two of my favorite tools for weeding a large area such as a vegetable garden is the wheel hoe

You can check this handy tool out and how it works by watching our youtube video. In this video, it gives you a testimony that has been tried, tested and true! Of course my next favorite tools for weeding are the old reliable straight edge hoe when weeding veggies and a garden claw for weeding and cultivating around perennial and shrub gardens.

With all of this weed information I hope it doesn't overwhelm or deter you from growing or adding to your gardens My hope is that it helps and makes it much easier for you this growing season as well as future garden years ahead so that you can do more of this...