July 28, 2011 at 8:35 a.m.

Three weeds that can control your garden

Three weeds that can control your garden
Three weeds that can control your garden

It's not news that weeds are everywhere, even in the cracks of cement and asphalt, and farmers are always fighting thistles, lambsquarters, ragweed, etc. Gardeners deal with weeds as well and I will write about three that you don't even need a website to identify.

There are many words and phrases that describe quack grass, some I can't put on this paper. Also known as couchgrass, it is a cool-season perennial that easily survives frigid winters. It spreads by seeds and rhizomes (underground roots). These rhizomes produce buds that sprout underground into new plants. Quack grass has rings of root hairs every one fourth to one inch along its long white rhizomes that can be several feet long beneath the ground.

Digging and pulling up quack is always the best way to kill it. Tilling may make your garden look nice but the blades just chop the rhizomes up, helping them to spread faster. Mulching is good providing the roots are completely removed; otherwise the mulch protects the quackgrass while the rhizomes spread underground.

Sometimes the blossoms on weeds can be just as pretty as the flowers we plant. Bindweed is one of them as the flowers look like morning glories. In fact another name for bindweed is wild morning glory. In 1922 California proclaimed it the worst weed because if left alone it can sprout a root anchored several feet in the ground with horizontal roots several feet in all directions. Bindweed loves to wind around blueberry bushes, raspberry canes, sweet corn, and anything that grows vertically. All you can do this time of year is to keep pulling it up by the roots.

Purslane is an annual weed with smooth, shiny, succulent stems and leaves. Seeds sprout when temperatures reach seventy degrees. It forms a low mat up to two feet wide. Small, yellow flowers open for a few sunny hours each morning. It is said that purslane is used as a salad in many countries. Although I am getting better in the control of this weed there was a time when I could have provided salad for a third-world country.

To control purslane, pull or hoe young plants before seeds form. Remove stems and leaves from the soil's surface or they may take root. Flowers can bloom and set seed after the plant is pulled. Pre-emergent herbicide, applied in late spring, will prevent seeds from sprouting. Most weed killers are slow to kill purslane.


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