Friday, March 30, 2012

Weeds and more weeds...the experiment.

By Michele Koskinen

My garden is a tiny little vegetable and perennial garden at the shore. The weather is beautiful and I need to get my hands in the soil "dirt", we said road trip. Upon arrival my daffodils were in full bloom, the magnolia is blooming and the hydrangeas are throwing out buds. as well as this beautiful white flower I bought and planted in the spring of 2010. I have no idea the name of this plant but it is a beauty. Early spring blooms and low growing. And the award for the most prolific grower goes to ajuga and chickweed. It is everywhere.

As ground cover in an area like a hill of other erosion prone areas, or as food and protection for pollinators, "weeds" are great. I have actually let the weeds/wild flowers grow being careful they don't take over in a few areas.  Usually in the summer our garden is well mulched and I have stone crop growing as ground cover, as well as plants so tightly planted they do not allow the weeds to take hold. Whatever stray plant that appears is usually taken care of.

The vegetable garden, heavily mulched in the summer, is usually exposed in the winter. We have tried plastic and it blew away with the ocean winds,  a cover crop, and the weeds still came.
Failed experiment

Last fall my husband and I were at a nursery and he talked to another gardener who told him of something he read. Using burlap and pulling the weeds out after they grow through the burlap. I said "I don't think so". But two guys and curiosity got the best of him. He covered the raised bed and put down the rock so it would not blow away. The weeds grew through and you can see there are many. He tried to pull and see if it indeed would pull up the weeds. No luck. Well, maybe a few. He was so disappointed. I laughed and said ok the weeds win again, start pulling. It just goes to show that people will try anything to avoid pulling weeds.

Next year we are using, newspaper or cardboard and then the burlap for the winter coverup on the vegetable garden. No light for the weeds to germinate and hopefully no winter winds. The trick as always is to keep ahead of the "weeds".

So what are the best practices for weed prevention? Mulching, crowding out with plants, weed killing sprays are all the norm. You could also just let them grow and not expend the energy. After all, Ralph Waldo Emerson said "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered."  

Happy weeding.

Check out the articles on weed control. Some we know, some reinforce our knowledge and some may make us rethink.

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